Pierantonio Costa was born on the 7th of May 1939 to Pietro Costa and Mariangela Colombo. The penultimate of seven children, he spent his Italian life between Mestre, Montebello Vicentino and Vicenza.
In 1950, his father left for the Congo, while Pierantonio and his siblings stayed with their mother in Vicenza. He interrupted his studies and, on the 7th of January 1955, left home with his brother Paolo and sister Lucia, travelling to Bukavu in Congo. From there he moved on to Sange to help his father run the plantation.
When war broke out in Bukavu in 1960, Pierantonio Costa experienced the brutality of the attacks for the first time. He and his brother and sister made the decision to ferry groups of refugees fleeing the violence that erupted after the declaration of Congo's independence from one side of Lake Kivu to the other.
The escalation of the violence soon made it necessary to leave Kivu. Pierantonio was forced to flee, moving first to Bujumbara in Burundi and then to Kigali in Rwanda, where he lived permanently from 1965 until 2021. Here he married Mariann and had three children, two of whom still live in Rwanda.
In the 1980s, he became Honorary Consul of the Italian Republic in Rwanda, holding this post until 2003.
During the three months of the genocide, from 6 April to 21 July 1994, Costa succeeded in evacuating a lot of Italians and Westerners, taking them to safety at Kigali airport and embarking them on Italian military flights. He organised rescue convoys from Rwanda to neighbouring Burundi and his efforts saved around 2000 people.
Pierantonio Costa was awarded numerous honours for his actions during the dramatic months of the genocide. These included the Gold Medal for Civil Valour of the Italian Republic, the title of “Commendatore”, Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Chevalier de L'Ordre de la Couronne Royaume de Belgique and Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by the Vatican State. A tree in Padua's Garden of the Righteous and a memorial stone in Milan's Garden of the Righteous have also been dedicated to him.
His story is now a book, “La lista del Console” (The Consul's List), and a documentary film with the same title directed by Alessandro Rocca, RAI Cinema - SGI Turin.
Story collected in collaboration with the Costa - Crivellaro Family.
Pierantonio Costa was born on the 7th of May 1939 to Pietro Costa and Mariangela Colombo.
He interrupted his studies and, on the 7th of January 1955, left home with his silings, travelling to Bukavu in Congo to help his father run the plantation.
When war broke out in Bukavu Pierantonio Costa experienced the brutality of the attacks for the first time.
In the 1980s, he became Honorary Consul of the Italian Republic in Rwanda.