[i] Hello!

[r] Hello!

[i] Do you have an object that would like to present me?

[r] So, an object that is close to my heart! I’d say my cell phone. My mobile phone is the object that is most important to me for several reasons. The particular reason is that it brings me closer to my country, which has been far from me for more than nine years when I have been in France, settled in France. Thanks to this mobile phone, I feel close to my country, my parents, my friends, everything that has been my life in Africa and especially in my country of origin. So today, thanks to the telephone, I can be reached at any time and I can also reach my relatives if I feel nostalgic for the country, if I want to talk to people. So I think that, with life in Europe, the telephone brings us out of this isolation, that’s it, and out of loneliness.

[i] What brand of phone is it?

[r] It’s a phone, it’s basic. It’s Samsung, so it’s the most common today. It’s a Samsung S, no, it’s a Samsung 7 Edge.

[i] So can you introduce yourself?

[r] Introduce me! I don’t know, well. I am… My marital status name is[name of interviewee] I am the eighth of my family of nine children. I just turned 35 on August 8. I am the father of three children, two of whom are girls and one is a boy, soon to be 13, 12 and 4 years old respectively.

[i] Okay. What country are you from then?

[r] I am from Chad. It is a country located in Central Africa. They say it is the heart of Africa because we are, that’s it… so I come from Chad.

[i] Were you born there?

[r] Yes, I was born in Chad, I was born in Chad, indeed in 1983. After Chad, it was following the events that occurred in Chad in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Automatically, my parents went into exile, and then there it was.

[i] Can you tell us under what circumstances you were born?

[r] So, I was born at the time when Chad was a little divided. The southerners had left, that is, people from the south after the 1979 civil war. Most southern nationals have withdrawn to the south of the country. As they withdrew, my parents who lived in the capital withdrew as well. And at the same time my father, who had also started to be part of the various organizations of political movements, after my birth, he went into exile in West Africa in Cotonou, Benin. And I spent a few… I am… I started by walking and then we went into exile in Cameroon, Cameroon for a few months and then we landed in Cotonou in Benin.

[i] Are you the only son or are you…?

[r] No, there were nine of us in the family, including five girls and four boys. Now we…. With the situation in the country, all this, there are still three boys left, of whom I am the last of the boys, and four girls.

[i] Have you lived in your home country for a long time?

[r] I have lived in Chad intermittently. Because, as I said, I was born in Chad and I started walking in Cameroon. I left, I went to school, at the beginning of my primary studies in Benin. I came back…. My parents returned to Chad in the mid-1990s where I lived… I went home with my parents. I lived from the 1990s until 1995, when we left, my father as a diplomat, we went to Bangui in the Central African Republic. I went to college in Bangui. I came back again, I can say that I haven’t spent half my life in Chad.

[i] Okay, so you didn’t study there?

[r] If, s, I studied, I studied in Chad.

[i] When?

[r] I studied, as I said earlier, from 90 to 95. I did part of my primary education in N’Djamena and after that, I left. I returned again to Chad where I studied from the third to the final year of high school, also in Chad.

[i] Can you tell us about life then, in this country?

[r] Right now or during… ?

[i] During the time you were there…

[r] It is a country that we must say to ourselves that we love it because for every Chadian, there is something special that attracts us, that really pulls us to heart, the love for this country, for this homeland. But it is a country that we must recognize as a hard country, a really hard country where we must live. And as we say, in the joke, joking with friends, with many people, we say to each other our hell, we already knew it in Chad. There is no question that if heaven exists, Chadians will still live in hell because we all have to go to heaven. Because life is hard, the climate is hard, when it is hot, it is extremely hot. Right now, it is the rainy season, and when it rains, it rains abundantly, when it is cold, it is also the harmattan’s cold, it is also excessive. So everything is excessive in Chad. But we love it, we love this country so much.

[i] Do you still have family there?

[r] Yes, I have family. I have my mother who still lives there because my father, he passed away a few years ago. I have my mother living with my sisters, my nephews, a brother who is there because, there, and the second one, he is in France. I have a good part of my family, I would say a good part of my family is there.

[i] Can you tell me a little about your family?

My family is a special family, it’s like all families, there are moments of joy, there are moments of sadness. We eat each other, we fight, and then we still love each other. But, everything is done as in my family, the family[family name], in the family[family name], we can eat each other, we can fight, we can even go to extreme violence but it stays within the family. There is no way anyone from outside the family can get involved in the family. And these are things I miss because they are my family anyway. I’m proud of it because I think, my father had us, we’re new, but when my father died, when we counted, the children my father had and the children we had, our grandchildren, and when I see that today in Europe, my father and mother have released more than 50 people today. And these are things I see, that’s all. My family is special and I love it like that.

[i] Okay. Can you tell me when you arrived in France? I arrived in France at the end of the years, at the end of 2009. So that’s it, I arrived in France at the end of 2009.

[i] And under what circumstances?

[r] In special circumstances because… I had to leave my country because of my political commitments, because I was responsible for the very first organization, a federation of several youth associations that brought together young people from the north and south, all that. And there were political commitments. So, for political reasons, I was forced to leave my country. Otherwise, it was my life that was threatened.

[i] What were the objectives of your organization?

[r] It was… Can I call the name of the association?

[i] Yes.

[r] It was the Camojet, the Collective of Associations and Youth Movements of Chad, which aimed to federate Chadian youth and defend the interests of this youth, in the face of abuses of power and the regime that was… that was not a gift either. We created this association in 2003, and three years later, the first president of our association was killed by the police who came by the house at night to throw a grenade at him and he died. After that, I took over as head of the association. As he was dead, he was very close to us, I was very close to him, all that, and I was in the meantime his Secretary General. I was the secretary general of the association. We held a general assembly where people wanted me to be president, I say on an honorary basis, the organization will no longer have a president, the title president is reserved for the one who was killed. So we changed the title. Instead of having a president, the Camojet will have a coordinator so I was Camojet coordinator from November 2006 until November 2009, when I left Chad.

[i] Before leaving the country, did you work in a trade?

[r] Yes, I worked in a trade. I did a lot of things like a lot of Chadians when you finish your studies. That’s it… When you get your baccalaureate already, you start…. So I was a teacher, I taught as a teacher of French and… in colleges and institutes. And then after that, I also worked as a communication manager, in charge of programmes and advertising in three radio stations. And then I also did… I was also in charge of communication and media for one of the big mobile phone companies in Chad.

[i] Okay. Since you arrived in France, have you stayed in Paris or were you somewhere else before you came to Paris?

[r] No, I stayed in the Paris region. When I arrived in France, I always lived in the Paris region for two years before moving to Paris, for six or seven years now.

[i] Can you tell me about your stay in France?

[r] Well…. the stay in France is the stay of every immigrant, of every person who arrives in France. We already tell ourselves that we came with a diploma, experience or experiences we acquired in Africa, all that. But when you arrive in France, in my country, you are little pashas, little chiefs because there are not many of you. We may be in Chad, in the meantime, less than 10 million people. So, we are little pashas, things like that, but when we come to a country like France where we have 65 million inhabitants and the level of education, the level of education of the French is light years away compared to Chadians, or Africans. So when you come here, you fight first to get papers. When we get the papers. I’m lucky to end up in France and after two months, I got the papers that people were running after for a long time. That’s because my papers were direct[in full]. So I had my papers in less than a month at DRAO, where I had refugee status with residence for ten years, renewable. It’s about to expire soon, by the way. So so there I started by first looking for a job to integrate in France because what many people think is that when you already have the papers, everything is easy. But it’s when you have the papers that the real… the real fight begins. It is the one of integrating, having a home, before having a home, you have to have a job, before having a job, you have to have a home. So all this, I did three almost 2 or 3 years without a job before finding my first job and working.

[i] What are your expectations or expectations when you come to France?

[r] Well, when I came to France, I didn’t come to live there. Until today I am not in France to live there, because my heart, my mind, it is still in my country because I have been ripped out of my country. I was ripped out of my country and when something is ripped out, the pain stays. Whatever we do, the pain stays and I, that pain stayed. For me, today France, I just have protection, I just… protection but my love remains in Chad. I could have been French since then, because… like many other people, because as soon as you have refugee status, you have the possibility to be French, to apply for French nationality, without conditions. But that, I never asked because I believe that my place, it is not in France, my place, it is in my country.

[i] Is that the reason why you don’t apply for citizenship?

[r] Yes, that’s the reason that drives me because I think, France has already done a lot for me. She protects me, I could… she protects my children, and that’s it! So I think it’s already a lot and the French nationality for me… I’m very grateful to France, I like France, I like French culture. I like…. Today, I share many things with the French, but I don’t see what the French nationality will do for me, as long as I work like the French. The only right I don’t have in France is the right to vote, but otherwise… my status gives me the same rights as the French except the right to vote. And that doesn’t interest me, because if you have to vote, what I see, I don’t prefer.

[i] Okay. Can you tell us about your living environment in France?

[r] This is the living environment of… of everyone, the living environment of… of any immigrant where you are lucky to belong to more than one family. First we have the family, the immigrants, but first our compatriots themselves Chadians. We also have this facility to have other immigrants who also come from Africa with all their problems… because we all come differently, there are economic and climate immigrants today as it is… and all that, and also the French themselves. So we have this double opportunity to belong, to have a multiple environment and then rainbow, unlike a Frenchman who perhaps for him, it is…. if he comes to Paris, it may be his French friends or, and others, whereas we have this, and we have… others. Besides, the good thing about me is that I also have…. I arrived in France nine years ago, I have a part of my family that is French today because I have a child who is French, half French, his mother is French. So that’s what the environment is all about! And my environment is also a struggle, because I am very involved in politics. So, it is sharing with Chadian activist friends, African activists and activists from all sides, even French activists. So my environment is characterized by daily struggle.

[i] Okay. Do you have any family in France?

[r] Yes, I have family in France, as I said, I am a father of three children. I have my own family, that is to say my two daughters who were born in Chad, whom I was able to bring three years later… who… The first one is in middle school, the second one is[in] primary and the last one I had with a Frenchwoman here. That’s it, that’s my family already here. Apart from that, I have my older brother who came here as a student and he stayed with… He just finished his studies, but he too has a family. He has a wife with three children here too. So that’s it… Apart from that, there are my cousins, there are my friends as they say, all the Chadian compatriots who are there, who are also my family and the big French family.

[i] How did your daughters join you in France?

[r] As with refugee status, we are covered by the Geneva Convention and many other things in that Convention, it is broad. Any refugee who is removed from his country and others can benefit from the rapid and simplified family reunification system in France. So my daughters, they are… I had arrived in France and when I arrived in France, with anger, with all these things, they were living with their mother. I wanted to file for French nationality, and when I wanted to file for French nationality, they said: “Yes, but sir, when you arrived, you said you had two children in Africa. Bring your children first, because since you are here, if you apply for nationality, you are given nationality, your children will automatically be French, being in Chad, the best way, we can’t apply for this nationality like that, as long as your children are not on French territory. So I started the procedures for applying for family reunification to bring my children to France in order to apply for French nationality. And as soon as I started the procedures, what was it, after four months… after four months, I got the positive answer, my children arrived. And then when they arrived, my daughters, but I said, but that’s not necessary and I dropped out for naturalization.

[i] Okay. Did you study? In France?

[r] No! I didn’t study in France.

[i] Do you intend to continue your studies… in France, or?

[r] Yes, because since I have been in France, I have been working with the Paris Academy of Education for six years now and I have already had experience. And I say to myself, I’m not always going to continue hoping to be a journalist knowing that the reality in the field of journalism and communication is already very closed, it’s very select when you’re not French or when you’re not there…. These are all reasons that I may not mention. But, I couldn’t have, so what should I do as I have been working in the National Education Department for six years? We now have to value this and find another training to be able to continue, because my contract with the National Education Department is for six years. And now I’m already in my fifth year.

[i] Okay. Can you tell me about your work at the academy, at the national education level?

[r] I’m an educational assistant. The educational assistant is a job… we are the support of the teachers, we are the interface between the students and the teachers and also their parents. That is, we take care of the students when they are not in class with their teachers, we take care of their reception. We take care of…. we help them do their duty, help with homework and all that. So we are rather, even if we don’t allow it, we are the people we trust, “big brothers” between the claws[quotation marks] of the students. So they open up more easily to us because there is a relationship created between the teacher and… there is a relationship of distance, a distance between the teachers and their students while we are in the middle. So we get closer to the students because we often take them in small groups. The teachers, they don’t have the time, the teachers maybe take them at 30, but sometimes we have to deal with two or three students, we manage them directly like that so that’s it, that’s kind of the work I do with young people. So it’s very, very, very, very, very rewarding and it’s really good. I had the chance to work in many sectors of Paris which allowed me to know the different problems, which go from what people called before the ZEP: Priority education zone, which became after the REP. And so do single establishments, which are, for example, the 16th arrondissement. I worked for a long time in the REPs and last year I worked in the 16th arrondissement. I came to say, Oh yeah, there are things that people in their offices, they set up but don’t know these realities. These young people who are in the… it’s not the same circles.

[i] What are these realities then, of which you speak?

[r] We have to admit it, we have to say that in France what Manuel Valls called twice, he said it twice in his speech, and people did not appreciate it, he talked about apartheid. The apartheid of the social classes in France exists. It also exists in the field of national education. People think that the children who are in the working-class neighbourhoods, which are the working-class districts such as the 18th arrondissement and others, are failed kids and others. No, it’s just because these kids are very sweet, they’re very polite contrary to what we think. They are hard but polite because these children develop what is called a shell, because of everything they go through, the absence of parents. But it must be recognized that all parents in France are absent in relation to their children. Because people work a lot. The children who are in the 18th, the parents are absent because the parents run to take care of them. For the most part, they are the children of the parents… they are children from immigrant backgrounds. While the children in the 18th century are the children, it is the parents of the children who are in difficult neighbourhoods who take care of them. Those who are in the working class neighbourhoods do not have time to take care of their children because they take care of the children of those who are in the wealthy neighbourhoods. I mean the 16th, I mean part of the 17th, the 8th arrondissement, all these things, the rich neighborhoods. So they don’t have time to take care of their children while those who are rich work so they can have money and pay people to take care of their children. So you see a little bit, it’s a mixture, it’s a little bit of a circle. As a result, parents who are in wealthy neighbourhoods, they have children who are… spoiled. To cover their absence, the children of the rich, to cover their absence, the fact that they are not present for their children, well, h they meet their children, all the needs of their children. That is, they give them what they want. The kids, they’re 14 years old, they smoke cigarettes as they please, they have the latest phones. They have video games where it’s even written, forbidden to children under 16, but children aged 10 or 11, they have that. Because parents do not want to say “no” to their children, they respond in this way. Now those who are in difficult neighbourhoods, parents being absent because they work for them, they do not have the means to give them everything these children want, games and so on. For them, as soon as they come home and their children ask them for things or the children do stupid things, they are angry because they have spent all their time working, working, bearing the whims and rudeness, the arrogance of other children and they come home, their children cause them problems but they do not have the time, and sometimes they use techniques like in the country. That is, “Well, listen to me, I’m taking care of you, I’m the one who’s going to… I get high at work, I do all this and you do this.” Well, it’s what, it’s correcting the child, it’s hitting him and it’s depriving him of a lot of things. So, children in difficult neighbourhoods see every adult as a danger, see every adult as a threat. So when they come….. when they come to schools, since teachers, teachers are not prepared to see this side of things. So, they think that these children behave in a rude way with them, these children are arrogant, these children tell them… Okay, not arrogant, but these kids are hard on words. They can say, “What the hell are you! “. so that’s the term, it’s “You’re crazy!” So the teachers don’t have time for that, the teachers judge them with difficulty, because they don’t know what these children are going through at home. And so it makes… the system in France complicated. And the children, and the worst thing is that the children are not mixed. People are sectorized, ghettoized in corners. So that is to say, the children of the poor, because it is not… not all the districts of Paris are accessible. for all. So the children of the poor live among themselves. So the parents are not here. When parents are at work, the children of the poor are forced to be on the stairs, in the parks, playing among themselves. They develop this technique of resourcefulness. What does this technique consist of? Their elders push them to sell drugs, to do things that are not appropriate, that children should not do, but these children are there because the parents are not there for them. There’s no one there for them. Unlike those in wealthy neighbourhoods, there are workers who are there to take care of them and other children are abandoned to their plight, when they are not in school, they are on the street. And when they are on the street and for the most part from…. all they want is to be 16 and quit school. Because for them, school is something that doesn’t help them. At the same time, there is also this way of arriving in the 8th grade, we push these children towards an exit to vocational training. While these children, they all dream, because no one dreams of being a plumber, no one dreams of being a garbage collector. But we become so because we have no choice. We push these children to be plumbers, we push these children to be garbage collectors, while these children, at first, in their heads, they all dream of being lawyers and they all dream of being journalists, they all dream of being… But they don’t have that chance, because they live among themselves, so they develop techniques and that’s how it is. In any case, I say, when Arab children are put between them, they think in Arabic and they think in Islam. When Jewish children are put together, they think in Jewish and they think for the interests of Jews. So for me, perhaps the best republic is that republic that must break up communities. I give an example that may frustrate people who go to see, but having a Jewish school is to train Jewish children and their children to think only for the interests of Jews. Whereas if there is no community school, there is no Islamic school, there is no Jewish school, people will be mixed. It is like today Henri IV in Paris where they send there only the elites, that is to say the children who all have averages of 17, they go to Henri IV in the 5th. So they’re just geniuses we’re sending over there. In this case, empty barrels are being put in other sectors. So these are things that I had to be at the national education system to see this. And when I was in the 16th, last year, I discovered that, I understood that, and the worst thing people don’t know is that the children who are in the schools in the working class neighbourhoods are not smokers and have no money to smoke cigarettes and have no money to buy drugs. They sell the drugs but they do not smoke the drugs. They don’t use their drugs. So who is consuming this? It’s all the children of the rich who are in the 16th because I saw there, I spent four years in the 18th but I’ve never seen an attack like that. But the first week I spent in the 16th grade, I saw children, 4th grade students robbing the 10th grade students with knives to steal, to pick up their phones and stuff like that. I left, I said to the headmistress, I said: “Now you tell me that the other districts, you call the other districts, you call them ZEP and REP, but the real bandits, they are in these districts. She says to me:”[name of the interviewee], you know, it’s true, but if we call the police, the police won’t come and we don’t want to have a bad image.”

[i] Did you have any particular difficulties during your exercise or in the institutions where you practiced?

[r] Special difficulties! No… no, not especially! Not especially, it’s just that last year, I spent a year in the 16th, and I said no it’s not for me because no, I’m not a person who keeps my mouth shut. I open it up a lot but when you meet the arrogance of… parents in the 16th because in the arrogance of parents… because kids are adorable… But it’s the parents, all that… so I’m saying it’s not for me. This is why many teachers, many people in the national education sector refuse to go to neighbourhoods like the 16th, and others.

[i] Okay. Can you tell us about your daily life outside of work?

[r] Outside of work, when I’m not at work, I’m at home taking care of my two daughters. And when the boy is here too, I take care of my children. Otherwise, it is also my friends whom I see from time to time to discuss, to decompress as much as to stay here. Otherwise, it is also social networks that allow me to be very close to my country, to be able to get the message across, also to get the information across because those who are in the country cannot do so. So they go through me or through other people to get the information through. That’s it! That’s it!

[i] Do you have any other cultural or sporting activities?

[r] Yes, I go to the movies a lot, I go to the movies a lot. I am a subscriber, so I often go to the movies. So at least every Wednesday, I leave on Wednesdays during movie releases. Otherwise, I also do indoor sports. I subscribe in a gym, which everyone does today, because, that’s it, I also subscribe to that. I also travel extensively as part of my political activism activities, which also allow us to travel, attend certain meetings, conferences or even initiate advocacy with politicians and decision-makers around the world.

[i] Can you tell us a little bit about these activities?

[r] It’s the activities, every year already, I work with a Dutch NGO in the Netherlands called “Voice for thought”, directed by Professor Myriam. So I work with her in the African Studies Department. She’s a teacher there. As a result, every year, it organizes… they organize a festival that gives a voice to activists, committed artists who come to express themselves. It’s how to reconcile art and political commitment because many artists are engaged. So we give them the opportunity to express their art with the voice that with what they usually do. So it is the meeting between the academy, the academic intellect and art. So there’s that! I also travel to other countries to meet with the authorities and also to plead the situation in our country, in my country Chad. This has led me this year twice to the United States to meet with American authorities and US Senator and the State Department. Unfortunately, this is not possible for us in France, because for reasons that cannot be said here, the French authorities give us asylum, but do not pay attention to us. It is as if they like it that we stay here and do nothing but return to our country one day.

[i] What was that trip to the United States about?

[r] The trip to the United States was to meet with the American authorities and make a plea on the Chadian political situation. So we went to meet some American senators, to whom we talked about the situation in our country and also to American parliamentarians about Chad, the situation in Chad today, which is untenable. So here’s the thing about it. And also to try to develop new partnerships with horizons other than… than with France, which seems to be very, very close to the current regime in Chad.

[i] Do you work with a particular organisation in France or an association of immigrants in France?

[r] No at first, at first I worked with the association Survie and then I preferred not to be, directly related to…. to French associations and NGOs. Because being linked to these French associations and NGOs means being a little compartmentalized and supervised… because being compartmentalized and supervised, following their instructions rather than being independent and expressing myself freely. Because some of these NGOs and associations, whether we like it or not, are financed by the French State. So that’s it, for me, I don’t want to be told what to do.

[i] Okay. Can you tell me about your relationships with your entourage, neighbours, your community right now?

[r] Neighbors, I have no relationship so here I am, I have no special relationship. I don’t know… what brings us together, maybe sometimes, is… I don’t know if I’ve taken the elevator ten times in five or ten years, I don’t know if I’ve taken the elevator ten times with a neighbour. No, no, no, no, I’m not doing it, so that’s it! After that, there are neighborhood parties, there are things like that, but I’ve never been interested in that. It’s not that I don’t want to, but it’s just….. I’d like to try it one day, take my bottle, go to the neighbour’s house and offer it, but hey, it’s… I don’t know, but….

[i] Because there is the Neighbours’ Day, have you ever been invited to this day, to share a drink or to talk?


[r] No, no, no! However, it is said that neighbours are the closest, the closest relatives. The first to intervene in case of problems, and is this the case in France? I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve never been to that field with the neighbors before.

[i] Is it the contacts that are difficult or does everyone stay at home?

[r] Yes, but in the new apartment where I am, no! There was no such thing, but I know that five or six years ago when I was in the Paris region, there was a neighbour who often… he was right across the street, we were on the ground floor and… every time they had a baby, they were fighting. He and his wife, they fought very often. And I was annoyed to see that they fight all the time, and there’s a baby. So one day I was upset, I went to see him and said, “you must at least respect the baby. You do that in front of the baby, it’s not normal. “He wasn’t, he wasn’t happy, after I invited him, as he was fighting with his wife, I invited him, I told him, “Come take the beer with me. ”

[i] He had come?

[r] Yes, he had come, he took the beer with me. I gave him a bottle of beer, we shared. We drank the beer. Then I talked to him, I said, “Well, look, I think it’s your problem, I don’t need to know what’s going on, but I just don’t want you to fight in front of your child because right now you’re already teaching him about violence.”

[i] Okay. In your community in France, the African community, the Chadian community, what are the reports?

[r] Well, yes, I have very good relationships and I have… people I see regularly with whom I talk, have drinks, share things. There are also comrades in the struggle, activists too, with whom we often organize demonstrations because there is an association or organization that binds us. But I still have this problem, that is, I’m more… I’ll say it when I’m asked to define myself a little politically. I say that I am more of a democrat, socialist and anarchist. So associations and internal regulations for me are two different things.

[i] Why anarchist?

[r] Not really totally anarchist, but I think the rules have always been made to frustrate some people. Rules are not for everyone. The one who writes the rules and regulations, he cuts that in relation to himself. So that’s it, it’s like the judge who forces everyone to get up when he enters the room. And if we don’t get up, but he judges us, condemns us. We don’t have to get up. That’s why I don’t want to go to court. I’m sitting down but why people are going to tell me the court and then I have to get up. Who wrote this rule? These are things, that’s why I tell myself that being in an association, okay, but after I’m told that yes, that you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do that, no, I want to do it when I want. I want to do things when I want, without hurting others, but I want to do things when I want.

[i] Okay. Are you involved in the life of your city? in the different cities where you have been or the different districts… ?


[r] No, I’m not, I’m not involved at all. I’m not involved and the only way for me to be involved is not to destroy what they did.

[i] Okay. Now can you tell me about the major events that marked you when you arrived in France, or in Paris or throughout France, where you have been, are there any major events, any key moments?

[r] A major moment was my commitment as a volunteer at Secours Populaire in 2010, where we welcomed more than 40,000 children from 25 European countries. That was an event that marked me. But how did it go? It was just that I was watching the ads where the kids would talk after, in the fall, there were two of them telling each other how they spent their holidays? One said, “Oh yes, I was on vacation, I was at the beach with the parents,” the other said, “I had gone to this city.” And there was one who was next to them, and sad. He listened to them and with sadness in his regard because he had done nothing during the holidays. After the Secours Populaire launched this call to organize a holiday for young people. There, it touched me I was a volunteer so, that, that, it touched me to meet young people from 25 countries, forty thousand children, to be their tour guide in Paris. We each had seven children. We should show them Paris, take boats with them. That was an event that really impressed me. The second event was the election of François Hollande, the election of François Hollande, who for many, many, many, many immigrants, especially African immigrants, was an “ouf, enfin”, Françafrique! Finally, France has just had someone who will cut off relations with its heads of state. And we all dreamed of the departure of these African heads of state. That is why when we met on the night of May 6, 2012 at Bastille, there were only African flags flying, African flags flying. There had been debates about that. It was as if it was the election of the president of the African Union. Unfortunately, we were… We quickly became disenchanted because this guy who said, “If I am elected, I, the president, would not receive any African dictator at the Elysée.” It was part of his “me, president”, but less than a month later, he rolled out the red carpet to all the heads of state, dictators in addition, Africans! So the event for me was a significant event, on the night of May 6, the vote sanctioned Nicolas Sarkozy. The second major event….

[i] The third one!

[r] Yes! The third is the birth of my son. It was a milestone for me and the last one, it just took place a few minutes ago…..

[i] Can you tell me about the birth of your son? Who is his mother?

[r] His mother, that’s it…

[i] Under what circumstances?

[r] Good! During a trip to Africa, we met in Casablanca with her mother because she was going to Cameroon for an internship with one of her girlfriends. They were six French girls. All five were in an orphanage that… it was a friend of mine, my best Cameroonian friend, that was… it was her association. Except the mother of my son who was in another orphanage in Yaoundé. My friend said to me, “Yeah, well, listen! You take the same flight as French girls who come to us for their internships.” So I met them in Casablanca, we took the same flight. So, it was gone, like that, and I went out with the only one who wasn’t….. We met in Yaoundé. We met in Casablanca. We went out together in Yaoundé for a few weeks. And I had just left for two weeks, I had to come back to France. She stopped her internship to come back with me to France. She’s from Bordeaux.

[i] Is she French?

[r] Yes, she’s French and she moved to Paris with me. We stayed, we had our son. We first… we decided to have a baby. The first pregnancy didn’t work and then the second one worked. We had January 26, 2014, we had a little boy Noah! So there it was, and it was something that made me very happy because we had decided to have a child, and it happened. He is now a very sweet child. Unlike my other children in Chadian culture, I did not see them and also the fact that I came to France, I did not participate in every step of their birth, while Noah when his mother was pregnant, we went to the hospital for ultrasound. I still remember the first poem I wrote for him. I left, it was my first time to go to the ultrasound, to see a woman. Well, there you go, I saw that. With every examination or medical examination she did, I was always there until birth. The day of the birth, I was also there. So she’s done, I had to do that. So this relationship, it remained a little special compared to what I didn’t have with the girls because the culture of my country, we weren’t there, we didn’t take it… It is the women who take care of their pregnancies on their own. We may give money, but after that, that’s what it’s like. That was an important event and the last one was the World Cup. The 2018 World Cup is very special because, for once, we saw France from below lifting France from above. Because these children who made the whole of France dream, I saw in their eyes my students in the difficult neighbourhoods. I saw in Matudi’s eyes, a Lamine Bâ! I saw in Pogba’s eyes, another Ibrahim. I saw in their eyes, all these young people who are not respected because they come from immigrant backgrounds. All they have is that football is just football. Despite all the politics, all the things it has done or all the things it does internationally, France would never have been talked about so many times and in such an enviable way as this year. The whole world has been talking about it! The whole world has talked about it, thanks to these children from immigrant backgrounds, we have had fun counting the origin of each child. And these children made France dream. They didn’t just dream about France, they realized France’s dream. So that was an event. For me, I didn’t feel like an immigrant, but that day it seems that throughout France the word immigrant disappeared in all books and in all… all dictionaries. And the French government even used this to make campaigns and say: “I, French, I am proud to be French, I am proud to be blue”, but it must not remain about that alone. It has to change, people’s mentalities have to change. Every French immigrant or not has an added value, brings something important to this republic and that is what makes the beauty and charm of this country. When we say, South Africa is the country, the rainbow nation…. Ah no, South Africa cannot be the rainbow nation any more than France, it is France that is really the rainbow nation! Instead, the French authorities must develop this side because in France there are Indians, there are blacks. I’ll tell you what: Blacks are found in working-class neighbourhoods in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Asians, Chinese, Japanese Vietnamese can be found in the 13th arrondissement towards Olympiades[metro station] and even in Aubervilliers in 93, they can be found there. Arabs can be found in Barbès, in the 18th century, they are there. Jews are found in many areas, even in Corentin Cariou, Stalingrad, Créteil, towards Créteil Lac. We find… Well, the French, they’re no longer in Paris. We find the Indians to the Republic with all their shops, with everything they have there. Romanians are also found everywhere. So, that is, France is the rainbow nation. Unlike South Africa. Who do we find? Blacks, Indians and Whites. While in France, we have more than that, so it is France that should claim to be a rainbow nation. And that is what should make France strong. To say that, yes, we are the rainbow nation, but not to wait for the election period or for a certain period, to club people, to say that you are worthless, you do nothing. The first time I took line 13, I was great, great… surprised and even wrote a little text about it. I saw, I took line 13, I may ask all the people who are watching… who will watch this video to try to take line 13 one day at 5 a.m., to take this from Basilic Saint-Denis and you will see, that is, in the morning, which ones are in line 13, there. You will see the old Malian, Senegalese women with the old parents. You’re going to see the Romanians, you’re going to see Arabs. In the morning at 5:00, I took this, I think, but where are they going? I asked myself that question. See, it was the youyous, the sounds of these women, it reminded me of African markets. These women do not speak French. And where are these women and men going? They’re going to work. Where are they going to work? They go to keep, as I said earlier, the children of the rich, to allow the rich to go to the office. They’re going to clean the offices before we come to the office, we find the offices clean, but who cleaned it? Do the French people, do the people who work in offices wonder who cleans the offices? These women will open the toilets, open the restaurants when we go to MacDonald’s. These are the women and immigrants who are doing all this. I saw that, I said, it’s just enough if these people decide one day to go on strike one morning and all the people who talk about immigration will understand. Because you will come to the office, you will find all your desks dirty, because you have done anything wrong at the office, the night before you leave, you did not clean up. You’ll find the toilet dirty. You won’t be able to go to work because the non or didn’t come to pick up or babysit your child. The buses will not be able to leave because the buses are dirty. The subways will not be able to leave. So they will understand the importance of each citizen or person living in France.

[i] Okay. Can you tell me what your perception of Paris is, in a rather general way, of France?

[r] I think it’s… Paris is Paris, it’s Paris, it’s magic! Paris is magical! We can hate it so much, hate it so much, hate it so much, hate the French rather, hate the French so much, but Paris remains magical. It is a special city. It is a city with a history. It is special, it has something as they say, Paris is the city even if the inhabitants of Paris are stuck but tourists, immigrants make Paris magical. To go out and meet people who speak, all languages, to go out with my locks and that someone who doesn’t know me, come and talk to me Wolof because I’m Senegalese and to go somewhere else, people will take me for a West Indian, it’s magic! So Paris, for me that’s it, and France is a very beautiful country if we took away the policies. It is a very beautiful country. The French people are a very open people, a welcoming people without these policies. That’s what we don’t understand, me when I talk to Africans who say, “We hate the French, we hate the French.” I say, “Because you don’t know the French.” The French in the countryside, they don’t care, they don’t even know what’s going on in other countries. They don’t even know what Africa is, they don’t even know what’s going on in your countries. They are also victims of the media, they are victims of politicians. What is it…? The French are not Bolloré! The French are not Total! The French are not Bouygues! The French are not… I don’t know… Arnaud Lagardère! The French are not Dassault! The French are the ones, it is this family that is in the village, who does not even know what is called Africa, but who each month writes a cheque to Unicef to fight hunger. It is this family that knows nothing at all, but this family of retirees that makes weekly donations to organizations. It’s not much, but when you put it all together, giving six euros, seven euros to an association is already a lot. These are the ones who are really these French people, who do great things. I say, I am an immigrant, every time I get out, I see that, when I get out of the subway, the young people who are there and who call, who recruit people to make contributions. But no black immigrants, I didn’t see a black man stay with them chatting. Because when we talk, “Oh no, I’m in a hurry, I’m leaving!” But who are they recruiting? It’s these old people, these French people who do. But the immigrants themselves, who have arrived here and succeeded, do not do so. I’m sorry, I did it for the first time, only seven or eight months ago, no last year, it was last year. I understood that it’s nothing, taking six euros a month or seven euros away, I did for two NGOs. And you see, that’s the beauty of France, and that’s what we call the solidarity of France that people don’t understand, when you’re far away, you don’t understand. We must not rely on Joan of Arc’s political France and France.

[i] Okay. You talked about political France, can you tell us how you see social issues in France in a fairly general way?

[r] Well, the social question is that the French people have the same fight as the Chadian people, they have the same fight as the Haitian people, the same fight as the people… It’s just, the people who are at the head, are just… have dressed up differently. The same dictators as we have in Chad, the French have the same dictators here in France. They have the same robbers. They have the same thieves but they do it in a different, smarter way. Each ruler uses the means and knows his limits in relation to the open-mindedness of his people. In Africa, if the dictator kills, it is because death is commonplace there. Otherwise, if death were commonplace in France, Macron would have done the same thing, Holland would have done the same thing, Sarkozy would have done the same thing. But that’s because, here, death… well, human life, it counts. And if in countries where there are dictators, people could already consider themselves, respect themselves, I think dictators would not touch them. Today, how do we kill people in France? It is through the economy, through taxes. That is the real problem. So when will people understand who installed Bolloré? Who installed Holland? Who installed Macron? They will also understand that the same people who installed them, are the same people who installed and continue to install dictators in other countries. I think that’s the way things will look when people understand, that’s where immigration will stop, that’s where the social issue will stop. Because, it is said that France is a country where social law is respected and others, but that is not true. Social law is respected in France, but we must already ask ourselves how much we pay in France as VAT for everything. We pay 20% VAT, unlike in the United States where it is 6%. There is no social security, but you just have to count the VAT. With the 14% VAT paid, we will be able to get what we pay in France compared to what the Americans have on the other side. Imagine that every thing we pay in France, we pay 20% VAT. If we were to remove this 20% VAT, we would not get sick every day. I have to go to Macdo, I have to pay 20%, I have to take the transport, I have to pay 20% more. It’s our money they take and give us back, it’s the same. It’s like in the United States, there’s no VAT, there’s no social assistance and so on, but when Americans pay their taxes at the end of the year, it’s called a refund, we give them back their money. We give them back… Some people end up with $6,000 a year. Other people, if you have two or three children, you can end up with fifteen thousand, twenty thousand dollars. Does the aid we give to families in France, or to people in France, to individuals in France, amount to five thousand dollars a year? If we have to count, if only transport, if we have to count for example, for each family in France, each child for example, for two children I have in France, I receive about a hundred euros for two children. Per year, that’s 3000 and so. But you go to the United States, you have 12,000 euros. We must see this difference already. We should not think that social issues are well developed in France. No, all these politicians and others are thinking about how… there is nothing free. There’s nothing free. It’s as they say, immigration costs France, but never! Immigration costs France… four years ago, immigration cost France 34 billion and so on. But now how much immigration brings back to France? Four years ago, immigration brought 67 billion people into France. So you’re taking 34 billion of the 67 billion, where does that go? Immigration is more about France.

[i] Can you tell me a little bit about health care?

[r] In terms of health, the care, currently in relation to my income and the fact that I have my children, my expenses so I have a care in France that is 100%.

[i] So, we’re going to discuss other questions, to see if you, you haven’t been naturalized, what are your intentions? Are you planning to live in France for a long time or to reconnect with your country of origin or to return or… ?

[r] As I said, today I have a part of my family that is French, a part that is… I always stay Chadian so I don’t… I don’t dream of staying in France, forever living in France. I’m going back to Chad, but I can’t say when?

[i] Have you always stayed in touch with your country of origin, your family, your friends?

[r] Yes, my family, my friends and many people who do not know me but who know me through my political commitment.

[i] Mr.[name of interviewee], we went through almost all the questions, are there any more things to add or anything else we didn’t say?

[r] Life is good! You just have to know how to enjoy every moment, to enjoy the present moments. And above all, do not back down from the truth, and from your convictions. I like life. For me, even if I say that I want to go to my country one day, but, I think that our country is where? That’s where we live. That’s where we live. That’s where you feel safe. That’s where you feel good. For the time being, Chad remains my country of origin, France is also my country, where I live, work and contribute. I like this country and that’s it and as I say, the world just needs to see that our differences must not be what should separate us, but our differences must be rather wealth, must be rather what should unite us.

[i] And how do you see the future of your three children in this world?

[r] Well, I think, for now, the only thing I’m doing is fighting to make them safe and healthy, and the rest they’ll make their choice. They will make their life choices, I will only identify the obstacles that could arise before them according to my ability. The rest is to continue their journey.

[i] Apart from the education received in school, what kind of education do you give them at home? African style? French style? or a mixture of both?

[r] It’s a mixture of the two! And I want them to be able to have a universal education.

[i] What do you mean?

It is not only to see themselves as French, but one day they must see themselves as Indians, as Japanese, as Chinese, as Chadians, as Malians, as Senegalese. Because for me, racism is ignorance of the other! When you know the other one, you don’t have to be racist!

[i] Okay. Thank you. Is there a last word that summarizes all these thoughts?

[r] Let’s be positive and move on, that’s all. [Laughs]

[i] Thank you! Thank you for taking this questionnaire, we’ll see you soon for more things.

[r] Thank you!