In the last decade, we have witnessed a media revolution: digital technologies have enabled anyone with an Internet connection to express himself freely. Voices have multiplied and now it is no longer just journalists who tell us stories. Often, those directly involved in an event tell us what they have seen. This also happens with tragic events, far from the common experiences of the West.
A case in point is Dagmawi Yimer, an Ethiopian director who arrived in Italy from Lampedusa, the terrible and often bloody gateway to Italy and Europe. For years, he has produced documentaries on the experiences of migrants. He has been talked about recently following publication of his new work, “Va’ Pensiero, the stories of the dispossessed.” Dagmawi has become somewhat of a media personality: the TV networks have accepted his work, it, national media have explored his personality, and he paints colourful pictures of the stories of those who have lived as foreigners in Italy. The image that reaches the public is direct, raw, and without cultural filtration.
Are there as many people listening as there are speaking? I suspect not. Yet listening is a crucial skill. Dealing with different voices, like those of foreigners, is difficult: it requires us to be open to others and to differences. We must recognise that labels such as ‘migrant’ or ‘immigrant’ are defence mechanisms that impede true contact. They impede us from becoming citizens of the world.