January 5 is Giuseppe “Peppino” Impastato’s birthday. Impastato was a political activist who vociferously exposed and confronted the mafia in his hometown of Cinisi.
After his uncle Cesare Manzella was brutally killed in a car bomb in 1963, when Impastato was 15 years old, his outlook on the Cosa Nostra, of which his father was a part, changed. He founded an antimafia newsletter called “l’idea socialista” and among other social justice activities, he organized events that provoked conversations among young people about the ills of organized crime. In 1976, he started a radio station, Radio Aut, that gave him a daily platform to expose the dealings of dirty politicians and mafiosi. This, of course, compromised his own safety, but he persisted.
There is so much more to this story, which was made into a film based on his inspirational life, “I Cento Passi,” (The One Hundred Steps) that received a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign film in 2001.
Impasto was murdered by the unscrupulous cell in his hometown of Cinisi in 1978. His brother and mother tirelessly fought to uncover the truth about his death, and in 2002, Gaetano Badalamenti, the powerful boss of Cinisi, Sicily, was sentenced to life in prison for Impastato’s assassination. To this day, the antimafia work of Peppino Impastato continues to inspire Sicily’s young people that there is a better way.
(Photo of altar in Palermo center.)