MICHAEL DAY Author ROME Thursday 28 August 2014
The senior politician who caused outrage by comparing Italy’s first black minister to an orang-utan, now claims he is under siege from vengeful African spirits.
Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli invited national and international opprobrium last summer when he said the then Integration Minister, Congolese-born Cécile Kyenge, resembled an ape. He issued only a mealy-mouthed apology, however, and has refused to resign.
In November, he took legal advice when it became clear he was to stand trial in Brescia, charged with defamation aggravated by racial discrimination. The trial is ongoing.
Roberto Calderoli claims video evidence from the Congo shows Cécile Kyenge’s father – a tribal leader – putting a ‘macumba’ on him as punishment for the insult
But today it has emerged that he is also taking mystical advice, after claiming video evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo shows that Ms Kyenge’s father, a tribal leader, has put a “macumba” – an African curse – on him as punishment for the insult.
After a series of misfortunes since the “orang-utan” comment – six surgical interventions (two live-saving), the death of his mother, fractured bones and, just last week, the discovery of a 6ft snake in the kitchen of his house in Bergamo, northern Italy – Mr Calderoli is in no doubt about the magical nature of the threat, and has consulted a mystic.
Roberto Calderoli compared Cécile Kyenge to an ‘orang-utan’ (Getty)
Oggi magazine last year filmed Ms Kyenge’s father, 75-year-old Clement Kikoko Kyenge, leading a ceremony in the village of Katanga, in the DRC, in which he prayed to God for the racist politician to repent. A less orthodox part of the service saw Mr Kyenge place a photo of the Deputy Senate Speaker on an enclosed termite mound, while seeking to communicate with the spirits of the elders.
Mr Calderoli told Oggi: “The photos and the video were unsettling. They put a picture of me in the middle of a termite mound. That is not a friendly message.”
He said that after the video emerged and he suffered the series of health scares, two friends gave him a lucky charm supposed to possess mystical healing properties. “Two days later, it broke in two by itself,” said Mr Calderoli. “A wizard has told me that there are terrible forces acting against me.”
The latest comments from Mr Kyenge, provided to Oggi, might be less than reassuring for the beleaguered politician. “A snake in the house is not a good sign and I’m not sure Calderoli did well to kill it,” said Mr Kyenge. “If when he apologised to Cécile he was sincere, he can feel comfortable. If, however, those excuses were insincere, the ancestors might become angry.”
Footage filmed by ‘Oggi’ magazine is alleged to show Cécile Kyenge’s father putting a curse on Roberto Calderoli
Now, in addition to battling ill health, anti-racism campaigners, the courts and tribal relations, Mr Calderoli is facing demands from animal rights activists that he be prosecuted for killing the snake, which they say was a non-venomous, protected species.
Following Mr Calderoli’s comments against Ms Kyenge, racist protesters threw bananas at her during a public appearance. Ms Kyenge had been calling for legislation to automatically grant citizenship to the children of legal immigrants who are born in Italy.