Friday, November 14, 2008
The term "Magna Graecia" means "Greater Greece," referring specifically to the ancient Greek colonies in Southern Italy and Sicily. There were also Greek colonies all over the Black Sea coasts, the Mediterranean coasts, North Africa coasts, around Asia Minor, and up to the British Isles. I think they were more-or-less autonomous, but don't hold me to that point. During Alexander the Great's conquests, the empire was expanded to a huge area, but I doubt that much of it reflected the culture of Greece, due to it's sheer size. What we're discussing here is the Greek influence, over centuries, that was made in small steps apparently, and not really by conquest, and did indeed reflect Greek culture. Specifically, how it affected Northern Italy.
On the Italian peninsula, Naples was the furthest northern colony of strong significance. I said of "strong significance," and not of any significance. Southern France also had a number of colonies, but not much in Northern Italy. The reason is that the Etruscan civilization was flourishing, encompassing from roughly north of Naples, to the edge of Lake Garda. Not all of the north, but most of it.
We see, stretched across Southern France, an underrated amount of influence. Similar to Southern Italy. One colony outpost was at "Massilia," which is modern Marseilles. West of Marseilles is the coastal region of the Languedoc, also a former Greek colony. In fact, incredibly, up to the nineteenth century, they actually spoke a Greek dialect! The following text is from pages 91-92 of the book 'Rule By Secrecy' (Jim Marrs; 2000), in the section regarding the Cathars:
"The Languedoc, formerly known as Occitania, encompassed the Mediterranean coast west of Marseilles, the Black and Corbieres Mountains and the Pyrenees, which separated the area from Spain. An independent state, the region was more closely tied to the Spanish frontier and the vestiges of the old Septimanian kingdom than to the newly forming French nation. Languedoc was a crossroads where travelers passed to and from the Middle East via Muslim Iberia and the sea.
"With the breakup of the Carolingian empire created by Charlemagne following his hard-won conquest of the area in A.D. 801, this corner of the old Roman Empire fell under the control of various kings of the Francia or Franks, the name of which soon would be applied to the entire nation—France.
"Languedoc was home to a number of ancient towns, many of which traced their origin to the Greeks and early Romans. It had its own traditions, culture, and its own language. The language of Occitania or Langue d’Oc gave the area both its identification and its name.
Perhaps due to this convergence of ideas and traditions, the Languedoc was more cultured and prosperous than its neighbors."
Greeks in Northern Italy
Genoa: I had always heard that Genoa was once a Greek colony, but apparently not. I can't find a bit of evidence to suggest that the ancient Greeks where there. Certainly there must have been trade with the Greek world, but it appears that Genoa was in the Etruscan sphere of influence. Maybe someone out there can help us out here?
Nizza (Nice, France): From the Wikipedia entry for Nice: "Nice (Nicaea) was probably founded around 350 BC by the Greeks of Massilia (Marseille), and was given the name of Νικαία ("Nikaia") in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians (Nike is the Greek goddess of victory). The city soon became one of the busiest trading ports on the Ligurian coast; but it had an important rival in the Roman town of Cemenelum, which continued to exist as a separate city until the time of the Lombard invasions. The ruins of Cemenelum are located in Cimiez, which is now a district in Nice."
Tarquinia (in northern Lazio): From the Wikipedia entry for Tarquinia: "Tarquinii (Etruscan Tarchnal) is said to have been already a flourishing city when Demaratus of Corinth brought in Greek workmen. It was the chief of the twelve cities of Etruria, and appears in the earliest history of Rome as the home of two of its kings, Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus. From it many of the religious rites and ceremonies of Rome are said to have been derived..." Apparently, not a Greek colony, but a strong "Greek influence." Probably a better way to look at it, a center of the Greek to Roman passing of the torch.
Spina (Wiki says: "Etruscan port city on the Adriatic at the ancient mouth of the Po"): From the Wikipedia entry for Spina: "Spina was an Etruscan port city on the Adriatic at the ancient mouth of the Po, south of the lagoon which would become the site of Venice. The site of Spina was lost until modern times, when drainage schemes in the delta of the Po River in 1922 first officially revealed a necropolis of Etruscan Spina about four miles west of the commune of Comacchio. The fishermen of Comacchio, it soon turned out, had been the source of "Etruscan" vases (actually originally imported from Greece) and other artifacts that had appeared for years on the archeological black market.
"The archaeological finds from the burials of spina aerial photography. Aside from the white reflective surfaces of the modern drainage channels there appeared in the photographs a ghostly network of dark lines and light rectangles, the dark lines indicating richer vegetation on the sites of ancient canals. Thus the layout of the ancient trading port was revealed, now miles from the sea, due to the sedimentation of the Po delta. Spina had a Hellenized indigenous population."
Lombardy: From the Wikipedia entry for Lombardy (wine): "The winemaking tradition of Lombardy dates back to its settlement by Greek colonists from Athens along the Po river. Archaeological evidence suggest that these settlers traded wine with the Etruscans in nearby Tuscany. In the late 19th century, the Italian wine writer C.B. Cerletti wrote a book for the French market that described the wines of Italy. Of the wines of Lombardy he noted that the Valtellina were still being made in a Greek style and the wines of Oltrepò Pavese were the preferred wines of the Milanese.
3 - H. Johnson Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 39 Simon and Schuster 1989 ISBN 0671687026
4 - H. Johnson Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 421-422 Simon and Schuster 1989 ISBN 0671687026"
Battle of Lepanto
There were three "Battles of Lepanto" actually, during the Ottoman-Venetian Wars. I'm having a difficult time linking this information, due to this, so you can find all of the Wikipedia links regarding this period here. The most significant of these three battles, and one of the most significant of all time, was the one in 1571. A Venetian-led combined force of European-Christian allies defeated the Ottoman Turks at Lepanto (Naupaktos, Greece), and prevented their designs on conquering Europe.
A Shameful Event
Apparently, at one point during the Venetian Empire, there was a conflict between the Venetians and Greeks. Although I don't feel like looking this up at this time, I recall some type of Venetian admiral ordered a volly of cannon fire at a Greek city (Athens?), and this did at least some damage to some ancient ruins. It possibly may have even been the Acropolis. I don't recall. There was no justification for this dishonorable action, regardless of what political or economic dispute may have occurred.
Greeks and Phoenicians
Predating what we know as ancient Greece, was the Phoenician culture. Despite the fact that Phoenicia was not in Europe (Phoenicia was based in what is now Lebanon, and probably a territory that stretched beyond that a bit), the Phoenicians provided what was much of at least the initial spark of what was later transformed into Western Civilization. The Phoenicians were not Arabs, who lived in the Saudi Peninsula until the seventh century. They were ancient Mediterraneans.
The Phoenicians also had many colonies, and a large "trade empire" (I use this term loosely). What is interesting is that it appears that the host peoples were basically pretty receptive to Greek and Phoenician influence. The Phoenicians had colonies, concurrently with the Greeks, also along the coasts of the Mediterranean, and even up to the British Isles, and many other places. There's even evidence that they were mining in southeast Africa at one point. The website Phoenicia.org has a lot of information of how far and wide they traveled.
The Phoenicians didn't, as far as I know, affect Northern Italy much. Of course, there must have long been Phoenician-Etruscan trade. They did have colonies all around the Mediterranean (the western Maghrib coast, southern Iberian coast) as well as even in Italy (western Sicily, parts of Sardinia). I don't really see where there was much conflict. Maybe someone can clue us in on that point. There seemed to be much cooperation between pre-Roman Greeks, Etruscans, and Phoenicians. At this time, Egypt was still very much viable, but they didn't appear to be colonizing northwards, just as the Etruscans seemed to be happy in their general area.
11-18-08 Note: I had meant to point out that Carthage, possibly Rome's greatest foe (see "Punic Wars"), was a Phoenician colony. Another way to look at this is that Etruscan civilization gave rise to Rome (which stamped out Etruscan culture), and the Phoenician trade empire gave rise to Carthage. Two true empires, as opposed to peaceful trade networks, could not co-exist in this manner for very long.
Monday, November 10, 2008
There seems to be some unscholarly dispute regarding just how many Lombards entered, invaded, and conquered Northern Italy in 568. Some would exaggerate the numbers, while others would trivialize them. I believe that the following quote gives us an idea of the general consensus among historians.
"Estimates of the number range between about fifty thousand and two hundred thousand adult males, so we may be talking about a population of four or five hundred thousand people altogether." --Professor Thomas Noble, Chairperson, Department of History, University of Notre Dame, on the Lombard invasion population numbers in 568 AD.
It doesn't even make that much difference to us, as the Etruscans and early Italic tribes (Ligurians, Venets, etc.) remain the heart, soul, and root stock of Northern Italy. The north was loosely united under one culture by the Etruscans, and centuries later, officially united under the Lombards. The two southern Lombard provinces were largely autonomous.
More and more, admittedly slowly, we are seeing a revisionism regarding the ancient Greeks as the undisputed founder of Western Civilization. All one has to do is compare the Greek and Etruscan dates and achievements to see that the evidence is contestable. I still think that Greece is the symbolic start of Western-European Civilization, in any case. Also, the Etruscans have an origin in the pre-Hellenic regions, which confuses the issue even more.
"We keep on believing the teaching that the Greeks and above all the Romans are the peoples to whom the Western world owes its origins. All of this is considerably exaggerated and based on historical falsehoods. However, I have ascertained instead that it is the Etruscans, coming from the East, who are the true founders of our European culture." --Professor Graziano Baccolini, University of Bologna, 'Reflections on the Etruscan Civilization'
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
[Above: North Beach after Italy won the World Cup in 2006]
This blog started a few months after the 2006 World Cup of soccer, in which the Italian team won. I had always planned on writing something about it, but never did. I did mention it at least once, and had written a piece on the Torino Winter Olympics aftermath. Looking back, especially from our perspective, the Torino Winter Olympics of 2006, and the FIFA Soccer World Cup of 2006, had some amazing similarities. Both represented some amazing worldwide links, that were, at least temporarily, reconnected. In that way, there was an added excitement to those times. At least for me.
We had featured a video on our YouTube page, which showed a celebration in North Beach, San Francisco, just after Italy had won. What I found amazing is that it was mostly locals, who almost like, rediscovered their roots, with a mixture of Italian nationals, and others. That also was an interesting dynamic, as Italian nationals (chiefly tourists or those working abroad) mixed with the long-standing local Italian-American population, thousands of miles and seventy-plus years disconnected.
Of course, there's the issue of our concept(s) of "Italy," which I think is best saved for another time. I saw where a couple of east coast posters, on message boards, said they didn't care about the World Cup because their families were from Southern Italy, and most of the team was from the north. That's very unusual, as with the vast majority, it was "Italy, Italy, Italy," all the way.
What it boils down to, is that I wanted to send a message to our Padanian friends, that we are here. North Beach is indeed known in Italy, and there has always been at least a trickle of immigration from Italy. However, as a whole, we Californians are not well-known in Italy. Not remotely as much as those in New York, Chicago, or Philadelphia are. I realize that I'm mixing apples and oranges here, but it's difficult not to in this subject.
For me, Torino 2006 sewed stronger connections. It was in Piemonte, located in the same northwest Italian region where so many of us have roots. Then there was Californian Julia Mancuso, being cheered by the Italian fans as she won the Gold. That was an amazing moment!
However, it was in the World Cup period that we saw celebrations in the streets of the "Little Italys." Not only in cities like Rome, but in New York City, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco, San Diego, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Melbourne, etc. You can still see them on YouTube.
Just a side note, but I find the World Cup of Rugby to be more exciting than soccer. Rubgy is the English sport which was the origin for American football. It's played with a ball that is like a hybrid of an American football and a soccer ball. The best teams are from the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. A very up-and-coming team is the Argentine team, which seems to be made up of mostly Northern Italian-descended players. I would also like to add that, possibly, the greatest rugby player of all time was David Campese; an Australian of Northern Italian descent.
I wanted to finish with a little story that I already had written once here I think. I still remember how after Italy had won the World Cup in 1982, there was a huge amount of noise in the Southern Hills district of Daly City (just south of San Francisco), which had a sizable Italian-American population then. I visited the same neighborhood to watch the World Cup in 2006. After Italy had won, there was an eerie, almost complete silence.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Like the canton of Ticino in Switzerland, the county of Nice, France, had belonged to the Italian speaking world. They were Ligurians in culture and dialect. Unlike Ticino, however, they were not allowed to maintain their language and culture. What is particularly amazing about this, is that one of the three founders of the modern Italian state, Giuseppe Garibaldi, was a Nizzardo! Yet still, the region was lost after the Risorgimento.
As mentioned previously, there is a local connection to the Nizzardi. While a large proportion of local Italians were/are Ligurians, there were also others from what we have coined "the Italian Riviera circle," which includes Ligurians, northern Tucans (Lucchesi), Corsicans, Nizzardians, and even once I met someone whose family had originated in Monte Carlo in Monaco. The term is an obvious play on "the Italian Riviera" coast.
Nice is a city in the county of Nice, which is one of six counties in the French province of Alpes-Côte d'Azur. From the Wikipedia entry for Nizzardo Italians: "Nizzardo Italians were the Italian- and Ligurian-speaking populations of the County of Nice (Nizza), who formed the majority of the county's population until the mid-19th century. The term was coined by Italian Irredentists who sought the unification of all Italian peoples within the Kingdom of Italy. During the Risorgimento, in 1860, the Savoy government allowed France to annexe the region of Nice from the Kingdom of Sardinia in exchange for French support of its quest to unify Italy. Consequently, the Nizzardo Italians were shunned from the Italian unification movement and the region has since become primarily French-speaking."
Nice may have originated when it was a Greek colony. It later became a Roman possession, and later was under Frankish rule. All throughout, it's soul seems to have remained, as it had always been, from the early Ligurian tribes. While we are on the subject, what is most facinating, is that the neighboring Languedoc region, along the the south French coast, until the latter nineteenth century, was mostly Greek speaking! Just like England, Germany, Italy, and even America; France had loved to stamp out any strong local culture within their boundaries. Any sovereignty or autonomy, apparently, was against their creed. Although Nizza should have remained part of Liguria, the Languedoc should have remained as a cherished local Greek speaking culture.
The following are related links from Wikipedia:
County of Nice
County of Languedoc
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Story by Janice Winter
Early Italian immigrants – and, more recently, prisoners of war – brought a cornucopia of food, fashion, furniture, industry and ingenuity, as well as passion, perseverance and a tradition of family values, to our country. While we often acknowledge the role of the Dutch settlers, French Huguenots and British colonists in forming our nation, the significant contributions of the Italians seem to have been overlooked along the way. It’s a great pity.
A trickle of Italians began settling in South Africa from as early as 1689. It was only from 1861, though, that they starting flooding into the country, as refugees from the Italian War of Independence. But rather than arriving as helpless victims seeking aid, they brought fresh ideas and skills and began developing our nation.
Italians have constantly pioneered new ventures in South Africa. In 1878, for example, Oreste Nannucci opened a small laundry in Long Street, Cape Town, and that was the beginning of dry cleaning in South Africa. The first soccer club, the ‘Italia Football Club’, was established in Cape Town in 1929 by Giovanni Perosino. In 1937, Umberto Pomilio and Giuseppe Raimondo started a paper mill, inventing and pioneering a process that’s still used around the world today. Their company, the South African Pulp and Paper Industries Limited, is now known as Sappi. In the 1880s, a small community of Sicilian fishermen arrived in Langebaan, on the West Coast, modernising our fishing industry, importing motorised engines, setting up a fish canning industry and developing the area by building bathing facilities for leisure, and roads for the distribution of fish.
Many more of our central industries are peppered with Italian influence, and some iconic national symbols that we’ve taken as our own inventions owe their existence to early Italian immigrants. Some of our world-renowned Cape vintage wines are of Italian lineage and, yes, even our supposedly traditional and ‘proudly South African’ biltong is likely to have had its true origins not on the plaas, but in the Alps, as this method of curing meat has been used there for centuries.
During the Great Trek of the 19th century, Italian merchants followed the trekkers’ oxwagons, selling groceries, gunpowder, pots and pans – virtual delis on wheels long before they became a trendy way of eating ‘out’ at home.
And, of course, no discussion on Italian food is complete without reference to pasta, especially the name that’s in almost every South African kitchen cupboard today: Fatti’s & Moni’s. Luigi Fatti built a pasta factory in Johannesburg in 1912, after working as a grocer for several years. The Moni brothers (Giuseppe, Giacomo, Pietro and Roberto) were also grocers in Johannesburg and opened their own pasta factory which they then transferred to Cape Town. The two companies merged in 1920 to form the United Macaroni Factories Limited – not as catchy as the brand name we know today! Initially selling just egg pastas and ice cream cones, the company soon became a roaring success, diversifying their products and processing several thousand tons of grain every month.
But these men were far ahead of their time. It was only in the 1950s that most Italians began opening restaurants, in order to feed the many Italian workers who were rebuilding South Africa’s railway lines. We now travel those railways, and drive over mountain passes, work in skyscrapers and worship in churches, oblivious to their origins and the creative characters who built them. Many dams and bridges throughout South Africa were masterfully constructed by skilled Italian artisans, despite appalling working conditions and rampant malaria. But then, perseverance and perfectionism characterise the Italians, who don’t seem to enjoy anything in half measures.
Take Raffaele Monzali, for example. He was instrumental in constructing most of Natal’s railways. He also brought fresh drinking water to the city of Durban, through his Shongweni Reservoir Dam project. It was he who broke a world record with the 59-metre-deep foundations he laid for the Umgeni Bridge – just one of the many bridges he built around the country.
The Berettas are another example. These were four brothers who immigrated to South Africa and worked hard constructing the railways in Pilgrim’s Rest, Mpumalanga. Before long, though, one was the mayor of the town, and another the deputy mayor – good potential for a spaghetti western! These landmarks typify the Italian ability to start with little and work hard enough to leave a tangible legacy.
Italian builders, tilers, carpenters, contractors and engineers were also at the forefront of the South African construction boom in the early 1900s. From basic design and construction to the finer embellishments of terrazzo flooring, Carrara marble and mosaics, Italian influence pervades our architecture. In fact, many familiar buildings were designed and built by just a handful of highly prolific Italians.
Giuseppe Rubbi is without doubt the icon in this regard. Having completed a diploma in Industrial Arts at 16, he worked in several countries before arriving in the Transvaal to make a lasting impression on the South African landscape. Starting as a carpenter on the mines, he soon rose in status, building the military barracks on Robben Island (during the Anglo-Boer War) and many of the first skyscrapers in Cape Town. The Old Mutual, Sanlam, Southern Insurance and Cape Times buildings, as well as the Alhambra theatre and the Volkshospitaal (today the Cape Town Medi-Clinic), all carry his signature. Rubbi Road in Kommetjie, Cape Town, keeps his name on the lips of locals. He was one of many Italians who laid some of the most enduring foundations of our country.
When diamonds were discovered at Kimberley in 1867 and gold deposits in Barberton in 1882, foreign interest in South Africa exploded. The country was seen as a treasure chest of commercial opportunities and the world’s largest market for dynamite. Italians once again seized the gap. Two men arrived with five cases of dynamite to start an explosives factory at Leeuwfontein, near Pretoria, which not only became the most important dynamite factory in Africa, but also helped establish the largest commercial venture in South Africa at the time. Another factory was soon set up in Modderfontein. Many Italians worked here, among them the so-called cartuccere (‘cartridge girls’), who had the dangerous task, for 12 hours a day, of packing the dynamite cartridges in waxed paper. These workers lived in the vicinity of the Modderfontein factory, forming the first real Italian community and creating the suburb of Orange Grove in Johannesburg.
The discovery of diamonds and gold brought many fascinating characters to the country. Among them was Guglielmo Martinaglia, a minerologist who worked in Kimberley during the diamond rush, finding underground waterways and springs. He was invited to probe for gold in Roodepoort, Pretoria, and hit paydirt in only three weeks. In 1896 he obtained a lease for land at Zwartkrans. He laid explosives, attached them to the detonator, took cover and innocently pushed the plunger, hoping to find limestone. Instead, the explosion left an enormous black hole in the side of the mountain. Fearing that he’d demolished half the hillside, he went to explore. It turns out that Martinaglia had discovered, inadvertently, the astounding Sterkfontein Caves – now one of the major fossil sites in the world and home to the skull of ‘Mrs Ples’, an advanced humanlike ape creature, discovered in 1947 by Dr Robert Broom.
Italians have been part of our military history from as far back as the Battle of Bloukrans during the Great Trek. When the Zulus attacked the Voortrekkers, an Italian woman, Teresa Viglione, rode down to the Bushman’s River, courageously risking her life to warn the Boer laagers and tend to the wounded. A carved marble tablet in the Voortrekker Monument honours her valour. During the next major conflict, the Anglo-Boer War of 1899, over 200 Italians formed the most renowned foreign legion to support the Boer cause, under the leadership of Italian cavalry officer Camillo Ricchiardi. This distinguished officer earned the status of hero as well as gentleman, writing condolence letters to the families of slain enemies and including any personal belongings found on the deceased.
But it was the Second World War that was of most significance, bringing a massive influx of Italians into the country as prisoners of war. They were used for very tough manual labour, quarrying the Outeniqua Pass from the hardest solid rock in the country, and constructing the Du Toitskloof Pass and the Orange River irrigation scheme in Upington.
Up to 96,000 Italian prisoners were held in Pretoria’s Zonderwater, the largest Allied prisoner-of-war camp. This tented camp was grim and the Italian prisoners were demoralised, starved and far from anything familiar. But, once again, they rose above their circumstances. The enterprising prisoners transformed the barren camp into a thriving community, with 50 districts, 30 km of road, 20 theatres, 16 soccer fields, 22 dramatic societies, a large hospital, a chapel and an elementary school. They printed school textbooks, wrote and edited a weekly journal and taught 11 000 illiterate prisoners to read and write. They also set up a training centre where they taught mechanics, joinery, carving, physics, chemistry, painting, design and sculpture. Their artworks, toys, carved wooden boxes, rings, watches, wrought-iron handicrafts and furniture were so exquisite that local exhibitions were held and each worker earned a shilling a day.
Zonderwater established a new relationship and respect between Italy and South Africa. Indeed, thousands of Italians immigrated to South Africa in the 1950s, this time to influence, develop and transform our country, as they did Zonderwater. But what we celebrate even more than their many practical contributions is the passion for food, wine, art, architecture, industry, sport and religion, and the love of life in general, that they have fostered throughout our country. Viva l’Italia!
We would like to thank André Martinaglia and Maria Martinengo for the time and information they so generously gave for this feature.
[Pictures courtesy of the Italian community of South Africa (see link)]:
'Viva Afritalia!' on the Pam Golding Properties website
Saturday, November 1, 2008
It may be unproductive to discuss this area in specifics right now, but we certainly know that there have been thousands of brutal murders of Afrikaner farm families, tremendous crime, and the introduction of a "Black Empowerment Program" by the African National Congress (the South African government). This program demands unconditionally that any "white-owned business" literally hand over 50% of it's ownership to a black person or persons. The ANC even closed down Afrikaner Charities, which provided needed aid to impoverished Afrikaner children.
There have been Afrikaners in South Africa since the 1600s, when most of the region was almost totally uninhabited. These were Dutch settlers called "Boers" (translated as "farmers"). They populated the region with mostly agricultural settlements. They were on peaceful terms with the Zulu tribe, which lived in the southeast corner of what is now South Africa. Only later, during the time of individuals like Cecil Rhodes, was there any significant bloodshed. The long and short of it is that it eventually became one of the wealthier countries in the world. A first-world country which, even all throughout the Apartheid years, had one of the world's worst illegal immigration problems.
We could talk until we're blue in the face about South Africa, but the bottom line is that it's a very bad place for the now predominantly impoverished Afrikaners. Without going into specifics, the crime rate is huge. As many as can leave the country, do leave, and they go mostly to the UK and Australia. However, while the numbers are large, it is not a solution for all. When "Afrikaner-American" actress Charlize Theron once said that there is no future for whites in South Africa, she received some harsh criticism by the same media which has ignored South Africa's plight for years.
"Italo-Sudafricani" means Italian-South Africans. These are the descendants of Italian immigrants, who migrated to the country during Apartheid, and they came from every part of Italy. Whether we use Italo-Sudafricano or Padano-Sudafricano, they are part of the now oppressed Afrikaner population. Actually all citizens are oppressed by the current state of the country, especially the rampant crime rate. It would be a good idea to monitor this situation, because if the ANC can close down a charity, what else can it do?
There are thousands of people of our blood, who are trapped in an extremely difficult situation, and may need our help. It should also be mentioned that Robert Mugabe, president-dictator of Zimbabwe since 1980, has seized many white owned farms away from families who have run them for generations, and without any compensation. This has caused widespread food shortages, largely ignored by the American mainstream media. If an emergency situation were to occur, we should answer the call, no matter where it was, or what the circumstances were.
The following link shows the Italian heritage societies in just two regions:
As can easily be seen, Northern Italian cultures are well represented. Lastly, the following links may be helpful as we move in closer:
La Gazzetta del Sud Africa (Italian-South African community newspaper and website)
Giovani Italo-Sudafricani (Young Italian-South Africans)
Italian-South African Chamber of Commerce (Governments of Italy & South Africa)
African Crisis (Africa's Premier Hard News Website)
There are also a number of embassies, and probably other resources which we have yet to check on. If we don't monitor this situation, one of the world's most underreported news items, who else will?
Note [11-6-08]: It should be noted that Robert Mugabe ascended into the presidency in Zimbabwe via the normal election process. However, afterward, he created an armed political army (ZANU-PF) to use force, including beatings and murders, against anyone who opposed him. This is what has kept him in power since 1980. The ANC has used tactics like this as well, so there really is a danger there that shouldn't be ignored.
Note [12-2-08]: I wanted to add the link to the Afrikaner-Genocide-Archives blog. It's a hard-hitting blog regarding the problems facing Afrikaners. Also, a YouTube search for "south africa farm murders" or something regarding Afrikaners, it will shed some light on the situtation. Many Padanian-South Africans did establish themselves in farming in both South Africa and what was Rhodesia (no Zimbabwe).