ovvero Pecora Nera II
Like others born in the fair land of Egypt I have a checkered background that I like to call the “University of Life” in poor words I consider myself a self made person successful both in failures and achievements.
I was born on the 26th of December 1940 in the Italian Hospital of Alexandria of Egypt. My mother often liked to remind me that at the time the city was being bombed.
My ancestry as I remember is as follows:
The Italian branch of the family is too numerous to list and anyway is well documented.
Soon after my birth my father was interned in Tantah and held as a prisoner of war for about four years. In the meantime due to the lack of affordable accommodation we went to live at a factory that uncle George and Aunt Androniki owned in Moharrem Bey right on the banks of the Mahmoudieh Canal. I remember my childhood playing in the factory, fraternizing with the Arab workers and in general creating my own amusement with sticks, the pile of sand used in the factory for the fabrication of flooring tiles and my faithful German Shepherd Lucky. My father got the puppy during one of our visits to the prisoners of war camp. Living “out of the city” so to speak I had few friends of my age and Lucky became my companion for the best part of my childhood.
When father was released we continued living in the factory until 1950 when the family finances allowed us to move to an apartment in Mazaritah right in the centre of the city.
My first years of schooling were at Saint Joseph, run by the Freres des Ecoles Chretiennes and continued in Saint Marc, Chatby Alexandria, until 1957 when the college was temporarily closed due to the political upheaval that Egypt was undergoing.
At the time the Italian Government was offering various scholarships to young Italians from Egypt as a means to get out of the country and start a new life in Italy, so I applied and was accepted for a Hotel Management scholarship.
From 1957 to 1968, I drifted through Hotel Management School, worked in various hotels, served my national service in the Italian Navy moved through Europe, established myself in Brussels for a few years and after a stint in Doha, part of the Arab Emirates, I eventually decided to emigrate to Australia where I re-joined my family.
Prior to my leaving Brussels however, I finally discovered my vocation i.e. computers. I resigned from my position and enrolled into a Systems Analysis and Programming full time course. After my graduation, and whilst waiting for my visa to Australia I worked for IBM in Brussels.
Australia turned out to be a disappointment for the first few years. I was expecting an environment similar to Egypt, cosmopolitan, multilingual and overall a friendly place to be and to prosper. Instead I found a British colony, narrow minded and almost hostile to anybody not of British origin. Greeks and Italian were disparaged and treated like factory fodder. When looking for a job, other than in the building industry as a laborer or a factory worker at best one was simply rejected at worst one was told to go and work in a factory.
After a few menial jobs I finally secured a position in the accounting department of a Chemicals Manufacturing company that was just starting to make use of computers for its sales and financial accounting. I had found my “niche”.
I married Carmela Barbagallo, daughter of Italian immigrants originating from Zafferana Etnea and had two lovely children Louise and Alexander.
After ten years in my employment where I had reached the position of IT manager, I discovered that basically I was a “worker” and did not belong in corporate management circles riddled with politics and nepotism where you progressed in your career not because of your abilities but mainly because you had the gift of the gab, could play golf and, generally speaking, take the glory resulting from somebody else’s work and allocated the blame when things went wrong.
In the late seventies, the desktop PC made its appearance and I fell in love with it. I resigned my position and started my consultancy in business systems and software design. My company prospered and grew rapidly to the point where I could no longer manage it on my own. So I took a partner who purportedly specialized in administration and lost myself in the world of software development, customer service and support.
Big mistake! After five years my partner’s mismanagement cost me most of my business, capital and indirectly my family life.
Subsequent to my divorce, I continued in business on my own, only this time I took charge of the administration as well as software development, sales and support and limited my activities to servicing corporate entities such as the Department of Defense and the Shell company of Australia, just to name a few.
This was a very rewarding and prosperous period of my life be it professionally or at home with my wife Gloria, Louise and Alexander.
In 1998, finally work pressures including traveling (I was away from home circa 25 weeks a year) caught up with me and I had a severe burnout which forced me to close my consultancy and retire from business.
Now I am happily retired, not necessarily financially wealthy but certainly emotionally.
In the intervening years Louise graduated from university with a Bachelor of Economics degree, married Robert Badaoui, a lovely young man of Lebanese extraction and now has two beautiful children Daria aged 2 and Gabriel aged 3 months.
Alexander surprised us all by turning out to be an outstanding student and completing two degrees, Commerce and Law, with Honors. Currently he is a Research Assistant to the President of the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission. Shortly he will complete his Practical Legal Training and become a fully qualified Solicitor.
Overall life has been good, but best of all is the realisation that the formative years in Egypt gave me and others like me a solid basis upon which to build a good life.
I am an Australian citizen, Australia has become a thriving cosmopolitan country where West meets East with relatively few racial problems, not unlike the social environment in Alexandria of Egypt.
At heart I am still an Italian from Egypt, a breed apart, we all stand out and in a very indefinable way we are unique.
When people wonder about my accent and ask me what I am, tongue in cheek I tend to say ““In Egypt I was an "Italian Effranghi", in Italy "an Arab", in Belgium “un Italien…” and in Australia a "Bloody wog””. So what am I? I am a very proud Italian from Egypt!!!”
Sadly we are the last generation that can make that claim and I take this opportunity to congratulate my cousin Giovanni Giudice and his AIDE entourage for the excellent work that they are doing in creating archival records bearing testimony to the good bad and indifferent that we have achieved.