By Lizzy Davies
Cécile Kyenge, whose groundbreaking term as Italy’s first black minister has been repeatedly marred by racist insults and protests, has reacted with defiance after bananas were thrown at her during a political rally.
The minister for integration, who is a naturalised Italian citizen born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reacted with stoic irony to the incident when it occurred in the town of Cervia on Italy’s Adriatic coast on Friday evening.
After the bananas narrowly missed the stage on which she was giving a speech, she chided the unknown culprit for “wasting food”.
On Sunday she said that, although the unrelenting barrage of hostility she had faced since becoming minister in late April was more vicious than she had anticipated, it would not stop her from doing her job.
“I cannot hide that at times I feel tired of the repetition of such serious insults. I did not expect them to be this strong,” she told daily newspaper La Repubblica. “But I will not stop or dwell on the attacks themselves. I am trying to look ahead, to reflect on the discomfort that we must understand is behind these incidents and on how politics and society as a whole can best respond.”