“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.” — Kahlil Gibran.
Music is known to be the universal language. It transcends all borders. But still, artists of African heritage are struggling to find their voice.
Afro-Italians are individuals who were born and raised in Italy and are of African descent. They compose 1.5% of the total population of Italy. It is the only European country with two heads of state of African heritage and has always been multicultural, multiethnic, and multi-religious. But due to the strong traditional ties, it fails to admit it. The flawed racial laws and propaganda against blacks shoved the contributions of Afro-Italians in the history of Italy under the carpet.
The Struggles Of Afro-Italian Musicians
Afro-Italian music developed in the late 1970s and mid-1980s but only recently gained popularity. In the strict knitted society which cares less about people of color, it was extremely difficult for Afro-Italian artists to raise awareness about racial discrimination and hate crimes against black and promote exclusivity and diversity.
Ghali Andouni, who is undeniably the most famous Italian singer of African descent, released the song Cara Italia. This song touched on sensitive issues such as the struggles of being mixed-race as the lyrics go like, “The newspaper abuses it, talks about the foreigner as if he were an alien”. And how they are politicized by affluent individuals for personal gains. He also raised the issue of an identity crisis.
Tolulope Olabode Kuti, who goes by the stage name Tommy Kuti is an Afro-Italian rapper who suffered from identity crises. He was born in Nigeria, raised in Italy, graduated from the UK, and lives in the US. He says that his multi-rooted personality makes it difficult to fit in one box. He also points out the repulsiveness of the Italian government against Afro-Italians in his lyrics.
Oumar Sall, whose stage name is FULA which stands for Free and United Lands of Africa, is an Afro-Italian artist. He is a Senegalese-born rapper. His music focuses on young Afro-Italians having an identity crisis. He prefers to stay away from politics and focuses on turning the hearts of the people with his music.
Epoque identifies as an Italian-Congolese singer. She is a multilingual artist and expresses her struggles with identity in her lyrics. In an interview with New Frame, she says that at home, her whole family was African, while at school, her friends were all Italian. She did not make it where she fit and questioned her identity as a child. But now that she’s all grown up, she has found her answer. She knows she belongs to both identities.
Afro-Italian musicians are playing a prominent role in raising issues like an identity crisis. They are also making their mark in the global music scene and spreading awareness about racial discrimination and birthrights.