Mista Tolu: Italy is “No Sweet Home” for asylum seekers and refugees - The Africa News

Africans in Italy

Two young men have composed a moving hit to highlight the situation of asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants in Italy.

The song “No Sweet Home” by Tommy Kuti aka Mista Tolu and Precious Asemota aka Nell Precious, is dedicated to all who come to Italy looking for paradise, but end up not finding it here. Instead, they find themselves in limbo, far away from home, and without a place to call home.

It gives a hint of why many Africans flee the continent. The song which is done in Italian and English, backs the “Out of Limbo” Campaign by Fondazione Nigrizia Onlus, aimed at raising awareness about the plight of refugees, asylum seekers and second generation immigrants in Italy. The clip of the song was produced by Davide Bedocchi.

Here’s an exclusive interview Mista Tolu granted Africa News.

Mista Tolu, what made you and Nell Precious compose the song “No Sweet Home”?

We were asked to sing it for a project connected to the “Nigrizia” Magazine. Since we generally like to talk about those issues, we immediately accepted, it was a great experience.

Have you released it as a single or do you plan to release an LP?

Both of us used to work on personal projects until this point, but we have now decided to join forces and produce this new CD that will be released in summer. The title of the album will be “Wake Up” and it will be produced by Nigrizia Multimedia.

Mediterranean Sea is full of bodies of people who died while trying to reach Europe. What do you think can be done to stop this tragedy?

We are not really that much of experts about those issues and situations. I know that it is more complicated than it appears. The whole situation is way more complex than how the media present it to us.

The only advice that I could possibly give is to encourage communication between the African and the European countries, more information should be given about immigration rules.

What would you tell whoever considers coming Italy?

The advice that I could personally give to any immigrant coming to this country is to try to learn the language correctly, that is the first step that allows people to be included into the system and to be treated equally. Once they get here they will have to fight for their rights. Being able to communicate definitely makes things easier in this intricate country.

What do you think of Italy’s immigration law asylum policy?

The biggest problem with this country is the lack of clarity of laws and policies governing immigration and asylum. There is so much confusion about the laws even among the institutions supposed to handle immigration. So when the officers are already confused, you can just imagine how asylum seekers and immigrants themselves get confused. No one seems to really understand how the system works.

From your experience, how do refugees or asylum seekers live in Italy?

I can say that their situation is quite dramatic, they find themselves living in a “Limbo”, a juridical prison. They can’t work, can’t travel and their future is not in their hands. They have no idea what their future is going to be and they can’t even make plans for the future.

What’s your message to Italian government as far as refugees are concerned?

I believe they should start appointing people who are competent enough to handle those delicate issues, people who are really inclined to take the time to understand, people who have had experience and are ready to fully dedicate themselves to this mission.

Clarity needs to be made about these complicated laws. It can be said that Italy has never had any political party which took the task of coming up with concrete solutions to immigration related problems.

Politicians generally speak a lot about immigration and refugees, but they mainly just clarify their standpoint, only saying whether they are for or against immigration, but none of them has ever come up with an idea to improve the situation. They lack concreteness.

How does it feel to be an immigrant in Italy?

As an immigrant in Italy, it’s quite easy to feel left out. You really feel alienated from the society, even when you perfectly understand the language and perfectly integrate yourself into the Italian culture.

For example it is easier to feel accepted and integrated in other European countries. A child born in England to African parents will grow up thinking that he’s British because he will surely posses a British passport and he will have the same possibilities as a native British child.

But when a child is born to African parents in Italy, he will find it quite difficult to state that he is an Italian, that is because he will probably not even posses the Italian passport by the time he’s 18. Being an immigrant will prevent him from having the same chances of finding a job or even travelling compared to a child born to an Italian citizen.

In the song “No Sweet Home”, you say some immigrants are living in Italy but are way apart from Italians. Why do you think this happens?

Because the Italian media hardly give positive coverage to immigration and immigrants. The average Italian only knows about the social deviant immigrants, the thieves, prostitutes and the drug dealers, the ones that he reads about in the news. One can say that the Italian media are kind of racist, this unavoidably leads the average Italian to view immigrants as a threat to them. As a result Italians and immigrants hardly interact.

Where can our readers obtain a copy of “No Sweet Home”?

It will be soon available on iTunes, and the physical copy of the CD will be available from June. However the video can already be found on YouTube.

Mista Tolu  

Nell Precious    

Fondazione Nigrizia Onlus

By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a