Abstracts Africa e Mediterraneo n. 83, 2015

Dismas Masolo, Reality and Exoticism in the African Landscape. A Tale of the Disappearing Mirage

The Western fascination with the pure and uncontaminated African landscape has strongly contributed to the recognition of the African continent as a terra nullius that could be conquered and exploited. At the same time, the belief that the African culture is based on mystical assumptions, as opposed to the materialist and rationalist Western background, strengthened the perception of freedom in invading and exploiting the continent. But the West is not exclusively responsible for that: generations of African élite have colluded with the “white man” in this race to exhaust the African resources and harm the African landscape.

Marina Castagneto, The Relationship between Man and Nature through the Mirror of the Kiswahili Lexicon

This work aims to show how in the Swahili world, as well as in the Kiswahili language, there is no separation between the human being and its environment, and thus no need for words like “nature” and “landscape” to exist. God did not endow man with the power to govern the world, to transform and even ruin it as he wishes. The structure and features of the Kiswahili language prove such a unique concept of nature within the Swahili culture.

Gaetano Mangiameli, Environmental Divinities and Enduring Creation. A Case of Sacralization of Nature in North-Eastern Ghana

The “sacralization of nature” may appear to be a cultural tool to protect “Nature” and consequently to preserve an ancestral and immaculate past. The absence of a clear distinction between Nature and Culture, however, makes this issue more complex. Among the Kassena people of Ghana, sacred sites can be understood not in terms of the preservation of “Nature” as a bounded object, external to human life, but rather in the context of a never ending process of creation involving both humans and non-humans.

Elisa Magnani, Millennium Goals and Climatic Resilience Strategies in Mozambique

Mozambique has always scored very low in the human development index parameters. However, today, significant financial and human resources are being invested in the country to improve its socio-economic situation, with particular attention being given to the protection of the environment. The article analyses the policies and practices set up in Mozambique to achieve the Millennium Goals, focusing on the seventh Goal of environmental sustainability, which affects the Country the most. Most practical answers to the dramatic drought and climate change which affect Mozambique are the result of a synergy between the Government and a long list of NGOs, International organizations and foreign Countries.

Aude Nuscia Taïbi, Desertification. Re-Assessing the Concept in the Light of African Examples

Throughout history, studies on the evolution dynamics of the landscapes of North and West Africa very often offered catastrophic descriptions. The article analyses this trend, through a detailed examination of the concepts and interests that such descriptions entailed. This narration of constant deterioration is created by cultural filters which are not grounded in objective realities and was indeed strongly endorsed by the colonial powers to subjugate and deprive the local populations of their natural resources, and in the post-colonial era things don’t appear to be any different, rather paving the way for a new system of exploitation.

Francesca Romana Paci, Bessie Head’s Attainable Agricultural Dream

Though deeply conscious of the unique beauty of African landscapes, the South African writer Bessie Head avoids exoticism and never indulges in lengthy description of scenery, yet can concentrate in few words intense representations of nature in which man is constantly the sentient centre. This article specifically explores parts of the novel When Rain Clouds Gather, where Head, with her keen sense of ecology and ethics, recounts the story of a small exemplary Botswana community that endeavours to make real the project of a new more efficient agriculture. In this context, the African landscapes are not only objects of pleasure but rather signs and summary of human values and human work, Head combining with their representation her radical struggle against racism.

Dominique Ranaivoson, Climate Emergencies and African Writers: a Changing Paradigm?

The article focuses attention on the topic of African ecology in post-colonial literature, with the purpose of asserting Africans’ point of view on the concepts of nature and landscape. While the West represents Africa as a place of uncontaminated beauty and holds this representation of primitive nature, as it was for the first explorers in the past and is today for Western ecologists as a good to preserve, African literature reveals a broader perspective which starts from the human being and its primary needs before focusing on its relation to nature.

Francesca Davoli, The Mirage of Composting in Maghreb Becomes Reality in the Oasis of Dgache, Tunisia

This article tells the story of the first experience of composting organic waste in Tunisia. The international cooperation project was led by AICA (International Association for Environmental Communication) and financed by the Waldensian Church in the small oasis of Dgache, in the governorate of Tozeur. From the first steps in 2010 to the creation of the first compost heap in June 2015, the article summarises every step of this experience, focusing on the local relationships that were fundamental to the project’s success.

Mauro Armanino, The Independent Tree of Niger

In this short fairy-tale Mauro Armanino, anthropologist, missionary and humanitarian worker, tells us the story of one of the trees planted around Niamey, the capital of Niger, following the country’s independence as a way of protecting the city from the surrounding desert. Using ironic and bitter words, the author guides us through the history of modern Niger from the point of view of the tree, witnessing the fall of hopes born with the freedom from colonialism, and leaves us with an open, bittersweet ending.

Lorenzo Orioli, Tchikandji: From Local Naturalistic Heritage to International Economic Asset. The Symbolic Passage of the Use of Mining Resources in the Republic of the Congo

The author Lorenzo Orioli describes the tchikandji traditional ceremony, that is performed in the Republic of the Congo in order to win the geni loci’s approval to use a place or a resource. The event, witnessed by the author, was accomplished to bring about the construction of an oil extraction site and signals the transformation of the site from cultural and traditional to modern, based on its economic exploitation.

Carlo Semita, Angela Calvo, Paolo Barge, Yacoub Idriss Halawlaw, The RUSSADE Project: North-South Relations in the Social and Environmental Inclusion of Young Sahelians

The article starts with the economic and labour struggles of Sahelian youth. It examines how overcoming these struggles requires new and inclusive ways of managing resources as well as the sharing of knowledge from the North, tailoring it to the local situation. These principles inspired the experience of RUSSADE: a cooperation project for higher education aimed at specialists who combine local and foreign technical skills with strong practical expertise. The project led to a Master’s Degree at the University of Niamey.

Valeria Magnani, 1950-1985: Literature in Equatorial Guinea Between Consentimiento and Identity Awareness

Equatorial Guinea, the only African country where Spanish is the official language, has been incessantly plagued for 47 years by one of the world’s most savage dictatorships. First colonialism and then the dictatorship, the cultural development of the State like that enjoyed by other African countries following their independence has been hampered for decades, and has forced many intellectuals into exile. The article analyses the exordium of Hispanic-African literature, which, due to political stagnation, only saw a rise in the 1980s thanks to Donato Ndongo Bidyogo.

Sandra Federici, A Comics Festival between Africa and Europe

Started in 2008 by an initiative of the Algerian Culture Ministery, the International Comic Festival of Alger is one of the most important comic art events in Africa. The festival is very successful in attracting the Algerian public and it represents an unmissable date in the calendar for comic professionals from Western countries, Asia and Africa. Willing to institutionalize its importance, every year a prize is organised with several categories and a qualified international jury.

Sara Esposito, Bitter Oranges: Underpaid Labour, Unfair Trade

This article sheds light on the current situation of harvesting citrus fruit in the town of Rosarno in Calabria, where migrants work in the fields under severe conditions of exploitation. Anthropologists Diana Reiners and Gilles Reckinger, together with photographer Carole Reckinger, explored the activity of migrant workers in this context, visiting their makeshift town and speaking with the inhabitants. Their research is illustrated in a travelling photographic exhibition entitled “Bitter Oranges”, whose aim is to involve and inform the public about migrant labour abuse in this context.

Pietro Pinto, Immigration in Italy: the IDOS/Confronti 2015 Report

The article summarises the results of the Immigration Statistic Dossier 2015, with a brief focus on the situation in Emilia-Romagna. On a national level there is an upward trend in the immigrant population (although the growth rate is slowing down). Other trends include a steep rise in social, labour and demographic integration processes; the persistent positive balance between public expenses and tax incomes deriving from immigrants; the improvement of penal statistics; and growing difficulties in overcoming discrimination and in orienting immigration and integration policies.