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Cécile Kashetu Kyenge: the Congolese ophthalmologist that has become a minister in Italy.

Cécile Kashetu Kyenge

“If we are born African, we remain African for life, no matter the country where we live!”

Cécile Kashetu Kyenge was born on August 28th, 1964 in Kambove (Congo-Léopoldville, today Congo-Kinshasa). His father, Catholic, is polygamous and she has 37 brothers and sisters in Congo!

She succeeded a brilliant career by becoming member of Democratic Party (PD) then, the minister for Integration of Letta government.

She has been living in Italy since 1983 where she studied medicine and surgery at the catholic university of the Sacred – Heart. She was then specialized in ophthalmology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and then became ophthalmologist.

She was elected during the municipal elections in June 2004 in Modena under the colors of the Left democrats (DS). In 2009, she became member of the Democratic Party. On February 25th, 2013, candidate in Emilia-Romagna, she was elected Member of Parliament.

On April 27th, 2013, she was appointed minister for Integration, without portfolio, of the government of Enrico Letta’s big coalition. She took an oath in front of the president of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and the president of council, Enrico Letta.

She became the first minister of African origin to have entered Italian executive. She is the subject of numerous personal and racist attacks.

The Member of European Parliament for the League of the North, Mario Borghezio insinuated that she was appointed a minister because of her relation with a member of the Democratic Party. Cécile Kashetu Kyenge was married since 1994 with Domenico, an Italian engineer. The couple has two girls, Giulia and Maisha.

In July, 2013, the Senate vice-president, Roberto Calderoli compared her to an orangutan. “I am not a woman of color, I am Black. And I proudly say it.”

“What gives me courage to continue, is the idea that if we, Africans, are not represented in institutions where the decisions are taken, we shall be the first ones to regret it.”

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