Artistic webzine on migration, borders, human rights

Io non ho paura – I am not afraid

One of the most effective antidotes to fear, whether personal or collective, is to write about it, or better still, to sing about it. Awarded the ‘Premio Demo’ in 2013, Io non ho paura (I am not afraid) is an uplifting song of courage and hope that crystallises Giacomo Sferlazzo’s world view from the standpoint of Lampedusa, the island at Europe’s border with North Africa that finds itself doubling up as a Mediterranean gravestone one summer after the next.

Sferlazzo’s lyrics of solidarity and humanist commitment are inextricable from his work with the grassroots Collettivo Askavusa, striving to portray the realities of migration in a broader context – with emphasis on the hidden links between immigration policy and economic and military interests – through the organisation of cultural and political events, short films, and PortoM, a permanent exhibition of migrant belongings lost or left behind in Lampedusa.

Following a short summer tour in Holland, France and Switzerland, Giacomo Sferlazzo will perform at the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival on Thursday 4th September, followed by an interview with Adrian Grima.

I am not afraid

Whether your eyes are green or blue, whether you pray to Mohammed or to Jesus
we hail from the same impulse that enlivens the wind, that burns in the sun
we are the same dust that meanders in the universe, awaiting love

Whether you come from the north or the south, whether you speak French or Hindi
we breathe the same air, the same gas, the same aroma
we fight the same system open to all forms of torture in the name of money

I am not afraid, I am not afraid

I would like to know more about you, your home, your revolution
I’d like to know how anyone could wish you not to walk in the street
how television frightens the people locked away in their homes

I’ve seen you sweat in the fields, with no workers’ rights
and I’ve seen someone shaking the spectre of invasion
and someone else shouting that shooting at them is the solution

I am not afraid, I am not afraid

I’ve seen many Lampedusans stay human amidst the inferno
in the silence of those who govern us with malice and indecency
forgetting that the Mediterranean is a sea of immensity, a sea of love

How much does the life of a man cost, how much does human dignity cost
and when the tragedies you have created are accomplished
take your tricolour flags and pay homage to those you have condemned

I am not afraid, I am not afraid

Translated from the Italian by Antoine Cassar

Click here to read the original lyrics in Italian


Lampedusan singer, songwriter, artist and activist Giacomo Sferlazzo is the author of four albums, most recently the experimental Nella pancia della balena (In the whale’s belly, 2013), composed with Jacopo Andreini. He has also directed a number of short films and musical videos. Since founding the Askavusa collective in 2009, he is responsible for the artistic and political side of their activities.

One comment on “Io non ho paura – I am not afraid

  1. valletta2018

    Reblogged this on valletta2018 and commented:
    Giacomo Sferlazzo, performing at the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival and one of the speakers of the Dialogue in the Med conference.

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This entry was posted on 16/08/2014 by in activism, events, music, poetry and tagged , , , , , , .
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