The common thread of the XVII edition of the Award for Mediterranean Culture – Carical Foundation, which took place in the Alfonso Rendano theater in Cosenza, is travel. A journey that is the history of humanity and our current affairs with the theme of emigration at its centre. «There is nothing more beautiful than the moment before the journey, the moment in which the horizon of tomorrow comes to visit us and tell us its promises». These are the words of Milan Kundera, the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, who passed away this year. Verses that reflect an intimate perception of travel. It is the journey as a metaphor of human life, of man’s change through the knowledge of the new, of his aspiration to improve his existence, even of his escape in search of freedom. A perennial challenge, by sea, by land and through the air. It is the history of humanity and its civilizations.
It is precisely in this introductory setting by Rai journalist Laura Chimenti, presenter of the awards evening, that the curtain opens with readings, interviews with the protagonists of the awards ceremony, singing performances in a packed and attentive theatre. For the Narrative Section “Saverio Strati” is among the 4 finalist works The smuggler by Stéphanie Coste (The Ship of Theseus) to take the podium. Her novel puts the spotlight on one of the central characters of the tragedy of immigration, the smuggler, the monster and the number one wanted man when the topic of landings is addressed in politics, but Stephanie’s novel costs – the fruit of two and a half years of research, study, and an endless vision of reports and testimonies – manages to build his character in the undertaking of bringing history as close as possible to the truth, humanizing a figure unknown and obscure to most. An extraordinary story emerges.
For the Human Sciences Section Luigi De Franco wins the Cristiana De Filippis prize. She is one of the brightest young mathematical minds on the Continent: together with 29 other European colleagues she has just been chosen to join the newly created Young Academy of the European Mathematical Society, which includes the 30 most important young mathematicians in the world. You won the G-Research Prize in Great Britain and the Iapichino Prize of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the latter awarded to you by Nobel Prize winner Giorgio Parisi. Despite the international recognition received and with them also prestigious teaching and research opportunities, you decided to continue to stay in Italy. She is currently a researcher at the University of Parma. Her professional and human path highlights that, in Italy, due to her age, due to the fact of being a woman in a historically male field, she has had to work much harder than her foreign colleagues to establish herself and to continue to exercise her scholarly activity. Here, with respect to the journey, we find the so-called “stay” as a value. Choosing Italy, at a time where the brain drain is continuous, can only be a courageous act and ultimately an important message to give hope.
With a look to the south of the Mediterranean, Morocco is the protagonist this year with the presence of Mahi Binebine, winner of the “Giustino Fortunato” Civil Society Section award. Mahi Binebine is an internationally renowned multifaceted artist, originally from Marrakech, and it is from here that he developed a profound passion for art from an early age, thanks to the vivid colors and hypnotic shapes of his red city. Painter, sculptor and writer (his books have been translated into numerous languages) with a strong sensitivity that accompanies his career with important and concrete social initiatives that delve deeply into the problems that his country is experiencing for a long time and managing to overturn the perspective. Before returning to live in Marrakesh in 2002, Mahi Binebine traveled extensively and lived between Paris and New York.
His travels are the founding pieces of a cultural baggage that he makes available to his fellow Moroccans, with art, culture and social activism in the field. If today his name is internationally renowned and his works are welcomed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, in Morocco since his return he has managed to combine his artistic sensitivity with social issues, creating spaces of commitment towards the weakest categories , poor and disadvantaged, starting with the many young drifters and without protection, otherwise destined for marginalization and delinquency: thanks to the proceeds derived from films inspired by his books, he has given life to social initiatives with the creation of various cultural centers scattered around the country, in the most fragile areas. In Marrakesh in 2022 he gave birth to the African writers festival, inaugurating an unprecedented event. Now in Venice he is the curator of the Moroccan pavilion for the biennial. In short, Mahi Binebine is certainly today a fundamental pillar for his country and for the civil society in which he operates. But even in this case he makes us reflect on how much the free “journey” can be a tool for enrichment and reconstruction on the way back. Mahi Binebine is an example of this, because he was able to make that journey and those many journeys, from the south of the Mediterranean to the north. Trips, which we remember, many populations in the world cannot do.
And we return once again here, to the tragedy of migration. Which is a bit like that right to travel where a part of the world is still deprived of it, while instead what could be an instrument of enrichment even in return for the countries of origin, the return that creates energies that develop, wealth and future . At the evening, the speech by the Italian Ambassador in Rabat Armando Barucco further explored the theme of dialogue between Mediterranean countries and how to be able to enhance a neighborhood that is at the same time a community of destiny, and regarding the calamity that affected the Morocco with the earthquake that hit Marrakech, he recalled how in the hours immediately following the earthquake, Italy immediately presented a very important offer of help for emergency healthcare, logistics, the complete supply of tents suitable for harsh climate of the region, heritage protection. Similar offers have arrived from many Italian NGOs, some of which are already present in Morocco and are already operating through their Moroccan sisters. «A topic that is very close to our hearts – explained Ambassador Barucco – as reiterated by VP Tajani to the Moroccan Foreign Minister Bourita, is that of the damage reported to the very important historical and artistic heritage of Marrakech and the region. The Moroccan authorities are completing the evaluation phase. We are ready to provide our help in the conservation and restoration of this heritage. It is a sector in which Italy has experience and institutions of excellence that are unique in the world. Some of which include the ICR of Rome, the Venaria, the University of Siena which have already been working in Morocco for some time.” Here, they are important words that indicate concrete actions of those who actually work towards the consolidation of a Mediterranean neighbourhood, not as an abstract but concrete idea on a geographical area in which coexistence, closeness and development must be the turning point in every action. Political, economic, social and cultural.