My father, Robert C. Amerson, had the good fortune to serve in Italy twice during his diplomatic career, meaning that I grew up speaking Italian in the 1960’s and again in the 1970’s. Maybe that’s why this morning’s article about the death of an Italian diplomat caught my eye, but Luca Attanasio’s story is so much more.
The Milan daily eulogized Luca Attanasio, the Italian ambassador to the People’s Republic of Congo, who was gunned down yesterday, along with a carabinieri official and a United Nations driver. According to a New York Times article by Megan Specia and Gaia Pianigiani, were in a World Food Program convoy en route to a school in the eastern part of the country when they came under attack. It is presumed that the ambush was a kidnapping effort gone wrong by one of myriad rebel groups who are vying for control of the mineral-rich area.
If your image of “diplomat” still looks like a stuffy eminence grise in white tie and tails, look at who this man was.
He was just 44, one of the youngest ambassadors on the globe. His was a meteoric rise through the diplomatic corps: commercial secretary in Berne, counsel in Casablanca, chief-of-mission and then ambassador in Kinshasa.
He met and married his Moroccan wife in Casablanca. Zakia Zeddiki is the founder of Mama Sofia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the education of street children. Attanasio was honorary president. They had, wrote Anne Le Nir for Radio France International, dedicated their lives to helping others.
For their altruistic work in the support of humanitarian projects the couple was awarded the International Nassiriya Peace Prize, wrote RFI.
Everything that we in Italy take for granted is not so in Congo where unfortunately there are still many problems to be solved. The role of the embassy is above all to stay close to the Italians but also to contribute to the achievement of peace.Luca Attanasio, Italian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of Congo, quoted by Italy 24 News
Son, Husband, and father
Attanasio leaves behind his parents in Italy, and his wife and their three young girls, twins and a baby, in Congo. The world mourns with them today.
A force of nature, an example for our children. A light in the fog that warmed and illuminated.La Repubblica newspaper