Alberto Varnero27 Jan 2016, by Work in
In this recording, Alberto Varnero talks about his experience of working in the construction industry in Ethiopia from the late 1960s and about the world of work in Ethiopia as it has been lived by many members of the Italian community in the decades since the end of the Second World War. The Ing. Varnero was born in 1942 (his father having moved to Eritrea in 1920), he took his degree in civil engineering in 1965 and has worked in Addis Ababa since then. He was for ten years president of Comites in Addis Ababa (1985-95) and has also been president of the Circolo Sportivo Italiano Juventus. In the recording, he talks first about the role of Italian companies in the immediate post-war period and, in particular, of the near monopoly that they occupied in the construction industry. Referring to his own family’s business, he talks about the importance of the experience of working on site and of the construction of some Addis Ababa’s most well-known buildings, including Africa Hall (headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), the Banca Commerciale, and the Hilton hotel. The narration of his experiences is divided into three parts: the period before the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974; the rule of the Derg and of Mengistu (1974- 1991); the period since 1991. In each period, he comments on the position of the Italian community, the privileges that it enjoyed and the many difficulties that it has confronted. The recording moves then to his reflections on the multicultural workplace and the necessity of developing the linguistic capacity to understand how others think. The recording concludes with his thoughts on the meaning of ‘italianità’ for the Italian community in Ethiopia.