A group of young Africans form an association called “Stra Vox” to fight for the dignity and rights of Africans in Palermo, Italy

I met a group of young ambitious African men who have been in Italy for over 5 years, each had a disheartening story to tell. Karim Ahmed tells me about his journey and the reason why he decided to join forces with other young Africans to form “Stra vox”.

He says, “when I came to Palermo, I saw the Africans seat around in groups, afraid to even enter a bar with friends to share a beer. The black struggle is seen as a cliche but it is existent and alive, the death of George Floyd proved this to many all over the world.

Our life here in Italy as immigrants is based on Submission, it is even worse if you are black. Everything other people say goes, because you have no rights, you cannot even fight for yourself. Whether you have documents or not, you cannot have a life considered worth of dignity. Most of the conditions set for us here have made us loose confidence as human beings. I pay my taxes, I work hard, I deserve to be treated and to live like every other human being in Italy. Yes, we have the local people fighting for our rights, but I think it is the right time to stand up for ourselves.

Omar Barry talks about discrimination during the world refugee day in Palermo, Italy

We formed “Stra Vox” to enable people to come together and enjoy free human rights and liberation, not as blacks, whites, Chinese, Asians, poor but simply as humans. This is an association for the voiceless, we believe that everyone has the right to dream and hope for a bright future, it does not matter who you are or where you come from.

We as an association hope to achieve respect, Africans are not respected here. Africans really aided the growth of Europe, but the lack of resources, corruption and poor wealth distribution in our own countries has created lack on our side, this however, does not mean that we should be treated less than human.

I have shared my classes in University with other immigrants who are non-European, but they go on to get better dignified jobs and better treatment, but, I am denied every other job no matter my qualifications, this for me is not an immigrant situation, but this is personal, this is a skin situation. I have worked as a waitress in a restaurant only for me to tutor someone else to waitress and that is how my job was taken. I was made to clean tables and floors henceforth. These are some of the many unfair situations we have to deal with.

Karim Ahmed introduces “Stra Vox” and the main objectives for the newly formed association during the world refugee day in Palermo, Italy

People here say that all lives matter, but in real sense, that is only in theory, when it comes to actual practice the situation on the ground is extremely different. This is not only my case, but it is a story recurring with many other Africans in Palermo.”

The association’s quick growth in number is a clear indication that people are tired, and wish to receive respect and dignified treatment. I finish with a great statement I heard from One of the members.

“We do not wish to be treated better, or be handed a free ride, we just want a life of equality, dignity and respect”

Nyawira Mithayo

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