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Mafia - Cosa Nostra

Mafia - Cosa Nostra

Mafia - Cosa Nostra

The term 'Mafia' specifically refers to the Sicilian or American Mafia, which is a group of criminal organisations, although these syndicates do share common bonds. However, many peoples refer to the criminal fraternity in their countries as 'Mafia'. For example, 'Mafia!' is a typical insult in Thailand that is hurled at a thief, conman or other criminal, although they are rarely organised.

Organised crime groups in other countries usually have their own names for themselves such as 'Yakuza' in Japan, 'Yardies' in Jamaica, and 'The Tong' in Hong Kong. Although these syndicates are organised, there are, or especially, were, many bloody internecine mafia wars for ultimate control of the group by the various families within the crime group. The overall name for the Sicilian and American Mafia is the 'Cosa Nostra' or 'Our Thing'.

The Mafia started in Sicily when it was an Islamic Emirate and a 'Mafioso' was a swaggering, swanking, bully of a (young) man, although when 'Mafiosi' was applied to a woman it meant beautiful without any negative connotations. The modern use of the word Mafia probably started in 1865.

The Sicilian Mafia has been had to define, but one definition that is widely accepted is that it is a "cartel of private protection firms" that uses its fearsome reputation for violence to intimidate its victims. It has been stated by several Mafia insiders turned state's evidence that the members of the Mafia do not use that term to describe themselves, they prefer the phrase 'Cosa Nostra'.

A fairly-widely accepted description of the beginnings of the Mafia is that when Italy annexed Sicily in 1860, the island was still feudal, but it was changing rapidly. The new Italian government seized some land from the church and the old aristocracy and redistributed it to peasant farmers. The number of landlords increased tenfold between 1812 and 1860.

These people needed a police force to keep law and order, but the law enforcement agency was new, small and inexperienced and could not cope, so they hired local protection. These local, extra-legal protectors later organised themselves into what the general public calls the Mafia.

New recruits are subject to an initiation ritual which may vary from family to family, but it is said to include the letting of the initiate's blood and indelible oaths being given. The new member has to take an oath of silence (omerto), which he must keep if questioned by the police on pain of death.

Mafiosi of equal status often refer to each other as 'compare' and call their superiors 'padrino' or godfather. In general, Mafiosi refer to each other as 'men of honour'

Their code of conduct include:

1] No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
2] Never look at the wives of friends.
3] Never be seen with cops.
4] Don't go to pubs and clubs.
5] Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife is about to give birth.
6] Appointments must absolutely be respected. (probably refers to formal rank and authority).
7] Wives must be treated with respect.
8] When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
9] Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
10] People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values. (Wikipedia).

by +Owen Jones