People raising funds for Moussa in Palermo | Credit: ANSA
People raising funds for Moussa in Palermo | Credit: ANSA

Thanks to money raised by the community in Sicily, the body of Moussa Birba, who died of a heart attack after devoting his life to help migrants, was brought back to to Africa. Over 5,000 euros were raised for the repatriation.

If racism can be fought with facts and not just words, the solidarity displayed for Moussa Birba sets a great example. 

Born in Burkina Faso but originally from the Ivory Coast, Moussa, who died at 41 earlier this month, was known by everyone as 'Kiliba Mosè' (great Mose). He was an activist for migrants' rights in Palermo and Siracusa. He died of a heart attack on September 1, and people all across Sicily mobilized to raise funds to bring back his body to his family in Africa. Hundreds of people on Facebook, including friends and acquaintances, mobilized to raise over 5,000 euros. 

People donated from Trapani, Siracusa, Custonaci and especially Palermo, where his friends bid farewell to the late activist with a fundraiser held in Piazza Mediterraneo in Ballarò, where Moussa was well-known for his activism. 

A few days after his death, Moussa's body was thus repatriated with a flight from Catania. Many of his friends were there to say goodbye while a religious ceremony was held in Siracusa with a blessing from an imam.

A migrant fighting for human rights 

Moussa arrived in Sicily 20 years ago after fleeing the Ivory Coast to study veterinary and then economy. He was one of the founders of anti-racism association "3 febbraio." As a cultural mediator in Palermo, he helped foreigners who arrived in Sicily get a residency permit. In Palermo, he had also founded an association dedicated to the ''Offspring of Burkina Faso''. In Siracusa, Moussa worked for the territorial commission to recognize international protection. 

"The most beautiful recollection I have of him is his impetuosity, in his life and work," said Graziella Biundo, mother of Zaira, his youngest daughter. "He was able to fight for the things in which he believed and he was always able to succeed: many loved him in Sicily and I am happy for the great solidarity shown. It's an important sign of humanity - particularly now."

More articles