How a Nigerian refugee found artistic success in Italy


Fasasi Abeedeen, 32, is from Nigeria who arrived in Italy in 2015. He speaks about his long and arduous journey to Europe and the feelings he experienced through his art.

“In Nigeria, I studied fine arts at The Polytechnic in Ibadan, specializing in sculpture,” Fasasi told ANSA. “I finished my studies in 2013 and then did my military service.”

During national elections, Fasasi was one of the policemen in charge of monitoring the vote and discovered the theft of ballots by armed individuals. After reporting the crime and being threatened for this reason, his home was burned and he left Nigeria. “During the trip from Nigeria to Italy I saw much suffering. I crossed the desert and the sea. I have never seen so much suffering like I did during that trip,” Fasasi said. ”I did it to save my life, and I thank God and Italy for having helped me.’

Fasasi Abeedeen / Photo: ANSA


Looking death squarely in the eyes

Fasasi left Nigeria in July 2015, going first to Benin and then Libya, which he left on a large boat carrying migrants across the Mediterranean. “There were 500 people on two boats that were travelling together,” he said. During the journey, the boats capsized and everyone ended up in the sea. “Three hundred people drowned that day. I saw this with my own eyes. I do not know how I managed to survive. I feel ill when I remember those moments and I try to forget them,” he remembered.

After being rescued, Fasasi landed in Sicily on August 29, 2015. “They took me to Foggia. I filed an asylum request, but it was rejected,” he said. After the rejection, “I filed an appeal and it was granted. I am now here legally.”

Fasasi was transferred from Foggia to Rome’s Casa Benvenuto reception center, where he lives now. His works were exhibited in Rome from 26-28 June in an exhibition entitled “The Landing: after many dangers, arrival in a safe port.”

“All my works deal with my journey from Nigeria to Italy,” he said, adding, “I want to tell about what I have inside, my identity, in order to make people aware of what I am doing as an artist.”

Change for the future

“I want to stay in Italy. I would like to bring my father, mother and sisters here. They are not in Nigeria any longer, since they had to flee due to conflicts,” Fasasi said.

“I would be happy if I had the chance to bring them to Italy. I have been able to speak to them only twice on the phone in a year and a half.” As concerns his work, Fasasi has many plans for the future. “I changed country, from Nigeria to Italy. I changed home: from Foggia to Rome, and my future sculptures will be on this theme: change. Everything concerns change.”



Courtesy:  The African Courier Verlag


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