Michele Amatore

Captain Michele Amatore or Sulayman al-Nubi (1826-July 7, 1883) was a Sudanese enslave who became a captain in the marksman regiment of the Italian army. He was decorated for unselfish acts during a cholera outbreak in Sicily.


The early life of Amatore is mostly unknown. The name of Michele Amatore was not given when he was born (probably) in the Nuba mountains of the Sudan.[3] Later he became to known as Sulayman al-Nubi. Much later in his life, Amatore said that he remembered that his father’s name was Bolingia and that his name was Quetto. He recounted that he had been captured when Egyptian slave traders raided their family’s village. They killed many old people and took away mostly women and children. Those captured were marched without food to Khartoum where a slave market was still acceptable.[1]

Amatore first came to notice when he was bought as a slave by Dr. Luigi Castagnone when he was about six years old. This doctor was the physician employed by Mohammed Ali Pasha and it was he who devised the name of Michele Amatore.[2] In Castagnone’s employ, Amatore received a basic education and became a Christian. Eventually he left for Italy, accompanied by a friend of the doctor’s.


Amatore established himself in Italy and took on Italian nationality. He enrolled as a soldier and marksman in the specialisedBersaglieri regiment of the Piedmontese army in 1848, when Amatore would have been about eighteen. In 1848 and 1849 he and his regiment from northwest Italy were involved in a campaign against Austria during the first unrest that led to Italian unification. Ten years later he was again involved in a campaign against Austria; 1859 also saw him promoted to corporal. By 1863 he had attained the rank of captain. Amatore served with distinction during the cholera outbreak in Sicily and was decorated by King Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of Italy.[2]

Amatore retired because of problems with his eyesight in 1880. He died at Rosignano Monferrato in the Piedmont region of northern Italy on 7 July 1883.