Teranga: a discoclub founded by migrants in Naples

Wikimedia Creative Commons

“Whenever you get into Teranga you feel safe what we are doing is not think about those things that we passed through. We dance to forget, we sing to forget”

These are the words of Fata, at the beginning of the documentary of the Guardian on the African community that gave birth to Teranga, a discoclub in the heart of Naples where the afrobeats act as glue between the local community and migrants.

From 2014 to 2018, around 60,000 of migrants arrived in Italy by sea as reported by UN news.

But there are also many migrants who didn’t arrive and died in the Mediterranean sea. In 2019, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, an estimated 15,459 people have risked their lives while reaching Europe by sea so far this year, and 427 feared drowned.

Before the sea, they risk their lives in the Libyan prisons: the first nightmare that almost every migrant travelling along the African route has to face in order to reach Europe.

Fata and Yankuba are the protagonists of the documentary of the Guardian about two young Gambians who fled from the dictatorship and poverty of their country. After arriving in Naples, they discovered a new type of violence, made up of racism and immigration policies that are insufficient.

A view of Naples from the Castello Sant’Elmo (Wikimedia Creative Commons)

The only escape from the traumas caused by the journey to Europe and by the time spent in detention centers is a small night club located in the heart of the city.

The Teranga club offers migrants a safe space to meet young Italians and overcome the discrimination they face every day.

“The Teranga is not like other locals. It is a place where we go to scrape away the thought of our friends dead at sea or in the desert, the thought of prison”, says in the video Yankuba. “We need to feel alive”.

Yankuba made it and now he can cultivate his dream of becoming a DJ. During the day he sells umbrellas to save money to buy the equipment for playing music. In the evening he puts the records to the Teranga and makes everyone dancing — a various audience of people, some of them has crossed the Mediterranean like him, but there are also people from Naples.

In Italy, examples of integration like this are increasingly rare, since the leader of the Italian populist party, Matteo Salvini founded his campaign and government on racist rhetoric, anti-immigration slogans and policies for closed harbors and expulsions.