Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has his followers and his critics; some say you either love him or you hate him. Well, Anthony Boahene certainly seems to love him, so much so that he has named his son after him.
The 36-year-old Ghanaian immigrant, who lives and works in northern Italy, has just renamed his 4-year-old son Silvio Berlusconi Boahene on his Italian legal documents. The sign of obvious adoration has caused quite a stir in the media here.
"I like the way Berlusconi talks, the way he moves," Anthony Boahene told Il Resto del Carlino, a daily newspaper. "He's a great leader and a great person. He's got a lot of style."
Boahene works in a metal-works factory in Modena but originally arrived in Sicily in 2002. He told the paper he immediately fell in love with Italy and its premier. Such love only grew when he received his official residency papers.
When his youngest son left his mother in Accra and came to join the family in Modena last month, Boahene signed him up at the registry office with the full name of "SilvioBerlusconi Boahene."
Boahene said he owed it to Berlusconi as thanks for his Italian residency documents and wanted to give his son a name of a great politician. He had been toying with the names George Bush and Tony Blair but settled on Berlusconi.
The man at the Italian registry office reportedly didn't bat an eyelid when he heard the name but many Italians were amazed to hear the news today. Berlusconi's government has been known to be tough on immigrants.
"I don't know a lot about politics, but I like everything about Berlusconi and owe him my life here," Boahene said.
As for the immigration laws in Italy, Boahene said, "It's OK. Laws have to be respected and that's it. Each country is the same."
Il Giornale, the newspaper that supports Berlusconi and his government, triumphantly printed a photo of the little SilvioBerlusconi with his father on its front page today and declared, "the next Silvio Berlusconi will be black."
Following in Berlusconi's Footsteps
As for young Silvio Berlusconi, his father said he hopes his son will get an education and study politics. "Maybe someday he'll become a president, too, either in Ghana or here in Italy," he said.
In the meantime, Berlusconi junior has just started kindergarten where the teacher insists on calling him just ''Silvio." He is called "Berlusconi" at home.
He seems happy in his small home on the outskirts of Modena where he likes to eat Italian ice-cream and loves watching Berlusconi's soccer team Milan play on the TV. In an interview with news agency Adnkronos, his father said, "He is a bright and happy child, and a real fan of the Milan soccer team. He even believes that Berlusconi senior is actually his grandad.
"The only things he loves watching on TV more than Milan soccer games are Berlusconi's election spots. When he sees him on TV, he goes crazy and holds onto the remote control so that nobody can change the channel."
As Italy gears up for an important regional vote this weekend and Berlusconi is visibly campaigning on most channels, there must be a lot of Berlusconi-watching going on in the Boahene household these days.
No comment so far from the man himself on his namesake.