5 questions with... Cécile Kyenge

Written by The Parliament Magazine on 24 February 2016 in Opinion

Get to know Cécile Kyenge in 5 questions.

1. Which person has most inspired you in your career, and how?
Former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who swore me in as the first black minister in the history of the Italian Republic. Even though we did not work closely on a daily basis, from the personal encounters I had with him I was inspired by his longstanding view on historical changes and by his profound Europeanism. He is a person that still I hold in great respect today.


2. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?
Martin Luther King's biography and 'Replenishing the Earth' by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wantari Maathai.


3. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
The force of will and determination that brought me to Italy from the Democratic Republic of Congo to study, alone. I had nothing and did not know a single word of Italian, but managed to complete my degree in medicine. Many people are surprised when they hear the story of those difficult - but beautiful - first few years in Italy. Today, working in politics, my personal dream has become a collective one.


4. What is the most humbling thing you have experienced in your career?
Without a doubt, the Italian Senate vote in September 2015 on the Bergamo Tribunal's request to proceed against the Senate Vice- President Roberto Calderoli, who compared me to an orangutan. I felt humiliated by the fact that one of the highest democratic institutions of my country did not recognise the incitement to racial hatred contained in those words.


5. How would you describe your political style in three words?
Calm, determined, hopeful.


Want more 5Qs? Read our chat with Kostandika Kuneva.

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