“Cronache dalla polvere” by Zoya Barontini

This article is also available in: Italiano

10 stories by 11 different authors to fully immerse you in the Addis Ababa Massacre, 10 ghost stories to remember the Italian infamies in Ethiopia

Cronache dalla polvere

In 1936 the Italian army conquered the capital of the Ethiopian empire, Addis Ababa. For those populations a new beginning: Roman peace, as Benito Mussolini defined it. Cronache dalla polvere tells this page in the history of Italy that has been forgotten and for too long unspoken: the occupation of the territories of Abyssinia by the fascist troops. The regime aimed to make it the flagship of the Italian Empire but found itself repressing the resistance of the proud Arbegnuoc guerrillas with atrocious violence. The Italian troops together with the black shirts became the protagonists of roundups, destruction and massacres of men, women and children, abandoning humanity and piety, lost forever in those lands far from Rome. Local populations have never forgotten that past of unprecedented violence.

To not to forget

As Italians, we were raised with the myth that, after all, in Africa we were “the good ones”, people who, unlike the French and the English, had been made in those lands as the fate of “Santa Claus“, ready to give roads and schools to the uncivilized poor; this book kills that absurd idea, using fiction to better focus those moments. 10 stories by 11 authors to better understand “The Abyssinian episode“, treated starting from the Addis Ababa massacre in which thousands of Ethiopian civilians were murdered by the Italians following the failed attack on General Rodolfo Graziani.

Cronache dalla polvere

This element will be the starting point of all the stories which, however, are extremely heterogeneous from each other, providing a 360 ° version of those facts. From this point of view, very interesting “Ethiopian volunteer register here!” which also tells the story of Memnon, the king of Persia and Ethiopia who fought together with the Trojans in the Iliad, combining it with that of a young African-American.

Ghost stories

Another very interesting peculiarity is that, in most of these stories, the figure of the “ghost” is present. The way in which it will interact with the protagonists depends on the individual stories, but its presence provides even more ideas to the plot, increasing its symbolic value. The risk, in works of this type, is that of becoming a sort of “news from the front”, eliminating its narrative and / or poetic value. This choice, on the other hand, allows the reader to fully enjoy the horrors told, exploiting the symbology to identify with them and understand even more.

Cronache dalla polvere

Moreover, it makes it a text suitable for a younger audience as well, so much so that, if I were a professor, I would see it very well as a read in a high school. Furthermore, the magnificent illustrations by Alberto Merlin simplify everything also from the visual aspect, making the eyes enjoy with drawings of impressive beauty.

Our story

“Cronache dalla polvere” enchanted me from the cover, so much so that last Milanese Book Pride I also went to see its presentation. I remember that moment with great pleasure, because, in a certain sense, it showed the “gem” of this work: the life of the writers. In fact, just before the end of the book, each author tells the story of his family in those years, making us really reflect on who we are and who we were.

Cronache dalla polvere

Personally, I remember returning home thunderstruck: they were themes and thoughts that I almost never set myself, convinced that fascism, after all, was something horrible, distant and external; their stories, of “normal” women and men, however, are a precious testimony able to help us analyze the phenomenon, which is more relevant than ever.

Smooth, intelligent, pleasant to read, with beautiful graphics; a text that deserves to be read in every school for the value it brings.

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