Cécile Kashetu Kyenge (Italian pronunciation: [seˈsil ˈkjɛŋɡe]; born Kashetu Kyenge, 28 August 1964) is an Italian politician and ophthalmologist. She was the Minister for Integration in the 2013–14 Letta Cabinet. From 2014 until 2018, she was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). Kyenge is of Congolese descent.
Cécile Kashetu Kyenge
Kyenge in 2013
|Member of the European Parliament|
1 July 2014 – 2 July 2019
|Minister for Integration|
28 April 2013 – 22 February 2014
|Prime Minister||Enrico Letta|
|Preceded by||Andrea Riccardi|
|Succeeded by||Ministry abolished|
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
26 February 2013 – 18 February 2014
|Born||28 August 1964|
Kambove, DR Congo
|Political party||Democratic Party|
|Spouse(s)||Domenico Grispino (1994–2019)|
|Alma mater||Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore|
After moving to Italy in 1983 at the age of 19, she became a qualified ophthalmologist in Modena, Emilia-Romagna. She has founded an intercultural Association (DAWA) to promote mutual awareness, integration and cooperation between Italy and Africa, particularly in her country of birth, the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is also the spokesperson of the association "March First", which works to promote the rights of migrants in Italy.
In February 2013 she was elected member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Democratic Party in Emilia-Romagna. Two months later she was appointed Minister for Integration in the grand coalition government formed by Enrico Letta, becoming Italy's first black cabinet minister. She supports the introduction of a Jus soli law to grant citizenship to children of immigrants born on Italian soil.
Kyenge was born in Kambove (Haut-Katanga District) in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 28 August 1964. She arrived in Italy with a student visa in 1983. She has been married since 1994 to an Italian engineer, Domenico Grispino, and has two daughters named Giulia and Maisha. She lives in Castelfranco Emilia. She has a degree in medicine and surgery from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome. She is a specialist in ophthalmology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.
In 2002 she founded the Association for Intercultural DAWA ("dawa" is a Kiswahili word meaning "medicine"), with the aim of promoting mutual understanding of different cultures and develop processes of awareness, integration and cooperation between Italy and Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Kyenge focuses mostly her efforts. Since September 2010 she has been the national spokesperson of the Italian association "March First" that works to promote the rights of migrants. She collaborates with various organizations and associations in national campaigns on the rights of citizenship. She collaborates with many Italian magazines, including Combonifem and Corriere Immigrazione, an online newspaper and a weekly journal on the culture of Italy of the present and future.
On 7 June 2009 Kyenge was elected provincial councilor in Modena for the Democratic Party (PD) and joined the committee Welfare and social policies. She is also responsible for immigration policies in Emilia-Romagna for the Democratic Party.
On 25 February 2013 Kyenge was elected member of the Chamber of Deputies for the PD in Emilia-Romagna.
Immediately after her election to the Italian Parliament, with the support of other signatories (Pier Luigi Bersani, Khalid Chaouki and Roberto Speranza), she began to promote a plan for a law granting citizenship to children of immigrants born on Italian soil (a so-called Ius soli law).
Minister for Integration, 2013–14Edit
In April 2013 Kyenge was appointed Minister for Integration in the grand coalition government formed by Enrico Letta, becoming Italy's first black cabinet minister. Her ministerial nomination was repudiated in some circles on cultural and/or racial grounds, being met by racist insults from individual politicians belonging to the Northern League such as Roberto Calderoli, VP of the Italian Senate, who called her an orangutan, in addition to racist campaigns orchestrated by the New Force party and other far-right groups. Her treatment as Italy's first black minister has been described by The Economist as "shameful" with "limited condemnation". Writer and University of Tokyo Professor Flavio Rizzo further analysed the climate around Minister Kyenge in the context of Italian inability to relate to diversity and "the emergence of institutional racism".
Member of the European Parliament, 2014–2019Edit
Kyenge was elected to the European Parliament in the elections of 2014 as a candidate for the Democratic Party from the constituency of North-East Italy. During her time in parliament, she was a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. In addition to her committee assignments, she served as vice-chairwoman of the parliament's delegation to the ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. She was also a member of the European Parliament Intergroup on Integrity (Transparency, Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime), the European Parliament Intergroup on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights. She was an MEP from January 7, 2014 through January 7, 2019.
- Bacchi, Umberto (3 May 2013). "Italy's First Black Minister Cecile Kyenge Shrugs off Racial Attacks". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "Cécile Kyenge, per la prima volta nel governo un ministro di colore". Il Messaggero. 27 April 2013. Archived from the original on 29 April 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- "Kyenge: Presterò la voce a chi non ne ha possibilità". Gazzetta di Modena. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Scritto da: Guido Del Duca – sabato 27 aprile 2013. "Cecile Kyenge; Ministro dell'Integrazione. Governo Letta". Polis Blog. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
- Faris, Stephen (6 May 2013). "In New Job, Italy's First Black Minister Confronts Culture of Casual Racism". Time. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- ""Kyenge zulù": insulti razzisti sui siti della galassia nazi". La Repubblica (in Italian). 30 April 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- "Mario Borghezio (Lega Nord) a La Zanzara: "Kyenge? Con le sue idee ci vuole imporre tradizioni tribali"". La Zanzara (in Italian). 30 April 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- "Italy: Northern League councillor sparks row over calls for black minister's rape". Adnkronos. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
- https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21584376-italys-first-black-minister-has-had-tough-political-baptism-educating-c-cile Racism in Italy: Educating Cécile
- "Minister Kyenge Meets the Good Italians". Warscapes. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
- "Kyenge elected to the European Parliament". Africa News. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- "MEP Kashetu Kyenge". The official website of the European Parliament.
- Members of the European Parliament on Integrity (Transparency, Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime) European Parliament.
- Members European Parliament Intergroup on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.
- Members Archived 27 March 2019 at the Wayback Machine European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.
- "Personal profile of Cécile Kashetu KYENGE in the European Parliament's directory of members". Retrieved 10 June 2020.