[i] Good morning.
[r] Good morning Sir.
[i] Can you introduce yourself?
[r] My name is [name] I’m the mother of a 12-year-old boy. My son is called [name] [name] like me.
[i] OK, what country are you from?
[r] I’m from Congo DRC Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo.
[i] OK. How many years have you lived in Paris and France?
[r] I’ve been in Paris since 2005 in France. I came here in 2005.
[i] You came here in 2005?
[r] 2005, in June.
[i] Have you been living in Paris since you arrived?
[r] Yes, I still live in Paris, in other words on the Ile-des-Frances. Ile-des-Frances. So when I arrived, I was pregnant. So I first moved to Bezons in the 92s. Yes, I was in Bezons. And when I arrived, I was pregnant. And then I was taken back to Bezons hospital. And from Bezons hospital, they sent me back to Créteil, an intercommunal hospital.
[i] And why were you taken straight to hospital?
[r] No, I didn’t go straight to hospital. So, when I arrived, I first spent 2 or 3 weeks like that with my sister. And then I started having pains, just like when I was pregnant. And that’s when I was taken to hospital, to Bezons hospital. When I got to Bezons hospital, they took me back to Créteil. They told me that they didn’t provide much care, so my case was a bit big. That’s why they brought me back to Créteil, an intercommunal centre. Since then, I’ve always lived in the 94.
[i] OK, so your son was born in…
[r] Yes, my son was born in Créteil, at the intercommunal hospital.
[i] And why did you come to France?
[r] Well, it’s really a dream, ever since I was a little girl I dreamt of coming to Paris. Because Paris is the city of stars, you know. Everyone loves Paris, everyone loves visiting Paris. So I always dreamt of coming to Paris. I always liked coming to Paris, except that I had no way of getting there. But it was really a dream come true.
[i] OK, so it was your dream to be able to come to Paris?
[r] Yes, it was my dream to come to Paris.
[i] And can we talk a little about your life, are you willing to talk about your life in Paris? How was the reception, for example?
[r] Well, in Paris really, as it was my dream to always end up in Paris. And when I arrived, I saw that Paris is really respected. It’s really the host country, as they say. As they say, it’s a country of human rights, it’s a welcoming country. At least that’s what I experienced. Because when I arrived, I was considered an undocumented immigrant and I was pregnant. So it really shocked me to know that there was no injustice. So I was undocumented, but they took me in and gave me treatment. And even the days when I was taken to hospital in Créteil. There were ambulances. And then there were even motorcyclists who cleared the road. So it really was just like what you’d see on TV. Just like in the movies. So it really impressed me. It really impressed me. Because I was undocumented and had such a warm welcome. There was no injustice there, really. So they took me in when I was pregnant. They really respected their principles. You have to run away when someone is in danger. So that’s what happened to me. The French really let me go.
[i] OK. And when you arrived, did you come to join your sister?
[r] Oh no, I came to count my life. That’s what I dreamt. So I still have the right to dream and live my life to the full. In my country, as everyone knows, there’s been a war going on for a long time. There’s not really a comfortable situation. And I wanted to live in Paris. In any case, I dreamt of Paris. When I see all the stars who come to Paris. If they want to release their films. They have to come to Paris. So I said to myself, I’m going to go to Paris. I’m going to see the Champs-Elysées. I’m going to take photos of the Eiffel Tower in any case. That was my dream. I’m really happy to be in Paris.
[i] OK. And did you encounter any difficulties once you were welcomed? Were you happy with the doctor?
[r] There were plenty of difficulties. There’s no shortage of them. I started having problems when I left hospital. Because when I left hospital. Now I had to find somewhere to live. So I was still without papers. I started living in hostels, hotel by hotel. So they just gave me the address. Go to such and such a place. You’re going to take this bus. You’re going to take this metro. So I didn’t know. So I was taking steps. I asked the question. I took steps, I asked the question. So I was really annoying people. With my questions. And then there were other people who were nice. There were others who didn’t want to. Especially at that time. So. I wasn’t in good health. My health really wasn’t too good. So sometimes other people. You go to ask for an explanation. They think you’re going to ask them for money. They treat you. No, no, no, I don’t know. It’s as if they see you as too dirty. So I told them some. But there were others who were nice too. They told you no, madam, you have to go that way, so yes. I told them about the difficulties but. That’s how it is.
[i] And how did your integration go with regard to the administration?
[r] Well, I’d say so. Yes, I’d say so. I didn’t really experience any difficulties in that respect. Because already my country. Congo is a French-speaking country. So already from a language point of view. I didn’t experience any difficulties. And in France Or I’d say in Paris. So if you know how to express yourself. Already… it’s a plus point compared to. I’d say perhaps to Francophonists. So on that point I didn’t really have any difficulties. And as I also studied. Back home. So when I got my residence permit. As soon as they gave me the receipts. I went straight to work.
[Oh right.
[r] Yes, I found work with the receipts. As the receipts meant that you were allowed to work. So. I found work with that. And when I had to leave now to go and do integration courses like that. I didn’t have to do that. Because I was already integrated, I already had a job. So for me it went very well.
[i] OK. And what did you study?
[r] Back home I studied management. Financial management.
[i] Financial management at university.
[i] I did that at IEC Institut supérieur de commerce.
[It’s a good school.
[Yes, it’s a good school. It’s a business school. It’s recognised all over the world, even by UNESCO. So its diploma is accredited. Even in France. Its diploma is accredited. Because when I came here I did the equivalent. Here I had to do. I did administrative accounting. As I already knew about accountancy. So I did administrative accounting here. And that gave me the equivalent. I don’t know Bac plus 2 here. But in my country it’s Bac plus 3. That’s what I did.
[i] And what university did you do that at? Or which school?
[r] Here in Paris. In Paris I went to Gréta. MT In Charenton.
[i] Charenton is just next to the 13th arrondissement?
[r] Du 12ème It’s next to the 12th arrondissement.
[What was your first job?
[r] At first I worked as a cleaner. But then I got my diploma. Now I work in administration. Or in accountancy. I did administrative accounting. So I work in accounting or administration. My last job was in administration. It was at Imanis. In the pension fund.
[Oh, right, Imanis. And that was in Paris?
[Yes, it was in Paris.
[And which arrondissement?
[No, I worked there. It was in Paris. It was Val-de-Fontenay.
[Val-de-Fontenay, yes.
[r] Val-de-Fontenay is next to Les Gares de Lyon It wasn’t too far from Les Gares de Lyon.
[i] And from a social point of view, how did it go? Between social relations In relation to French people. Community life.
[r] Life in France. Life in the hotel was a bit difficult. It was a bit difficult because I would say. In hotels often, I don’t know. There were Moroccans. The Arabs, in short. They’re the ones who occupy most of the hotels. So it was really difficult.
[i] And why was it difficult?
[r] I would say the French themselves. The original French. You see? That’s what I get from it. And they’re really welcoming. But us Africans. We have a bit of I don’t know. Like competition. We don’t really want to help each other.
[That’s it. So at the hotel in any case. The bosses were the Arabs and they didn’t treat us very well.
[i] There were other Congolese compatriots.
[r] Yes, there were other Congolese compatriots as well. But the people from the Maghreb, the Arabs, they treated each other well. So it was as if. They were part of the boss. Even at work when I was doing the housework it was the same. So in black Africa we were treated badly. Because the chiefs were the Arabs. But when it came to the French chiefs, they treated us the same, the same way. So I insist again. In any case, the French are open and welcoming. On the other hand. There’s a bit of competition between us. We don’t really want to let other countries win. Compared to others, that is. So I preferred to be face to face with a native Frenchman. I prefer to have my case dealt with by a native Frenchman. He’s welcoming and he knows that I’ve come here to look for my life. In any case, he’ll treat me fairly. Compared to others. I’d say other immigrants. And they will try to give preference to people from his country.
[Originally you’re talking about ethnic French.
[That’s it.
[i] And how is your life in Paris now?
[r] My life in Paris is going I’d say 7 out of 10 compared to my country. I’m not at 10 out of 10 yet. I’d say I’m at 7 out of 10. Because in any case, comparing my country with the life I had in the Congo and the life I have here. It’s really not a picture. Things are really very different. Even with my qualifications back home, I couldn’t find a job. But here in France, I gave birth in good conditions. And I was housed, so I was housed with my son. I had nothing but my son was looked after. So he’s been treated well so far, so we encourage the child to go to school until he’s at least 16. He goes to school. Without paying. So it’s really not a picture. If I was back home with my son. He couldn’t have the education he has today. Because here he goes to school. I only have to pay fees. And then everything is calculated on my income. But back home it’s not like that. So in France, without money, your child can’t go to school. Your child doesn’t have… Already doesn’t have the right to education. Doesn’t have the right to health. All that. Whereas here I’m a foreigner. But my son benefits from all that. They consider my son to be a child He benefits from the rights of all children. Even me too. I have benefited from human rights. Like all men, I have enjoyed security and health. But in my country, you can be there. A bullet falls. It comes from who knows where. So it can fall on you. So there are wars all the time. But here in France. We’re safe. Here in France I can barely get any money. But I’ve got my food in the fridge. You can see. So there’s no shortage of food. There’s no shortage of food for my son or me. We don’t run out of clothes either. So you don’t just dress like the stars, you can dress in designer clothes. If you want to get dressed. Not with designer clothes. But in the same way as the stars you can too. There are shops, cheaper shops. Normal people. So there are well-known shops too. There’s I don’t know, Kim Kardashian’s sister, he does the H&M ad, so you see: he’s still a star. If he wears H&M, then on my salary I can easily buy H&M too. And in second-hand shops too. You can find designer pieces. So clothes. Eating here in France isn’t really a problem. Even transport’s not a problem. Whereas in my country it’s a pain. It’s all a hassle.
[i] And what do you like about Paris? Because you seem to like the city of Paris. Do you like Paris?
[I like Paris anyway.
[i] What do you like?
[r] First of all I like Paris because there are several companies in Paris. There’s work. I see my compatriots living in the provinces. And they can’t find work. On the other hand, I find work in Paris. People can call me. I say no, I’m not going. But on the other hand. So in Paris I’d say there’s everything. You start with work. Almost all the work is centralised in Paris. You can have pennies, annexes. In… On the island of Paris But the big companies.
[i] ‘île de France ?
[Who. But the big companies are in Paris. The main addresses are really in Paris. So I already love Paris. Because of the work and then I love Paris because of its beauty. When you walk down the avenue des Champs-Élysées. It’s the most beautiful avenue, isn’t it? In the whole world. You can see for yourself. When I walk there I always take photos. And one time I even went to take photos in front of La Fouquette. That’s where Monsieur Sarkozy celebrated. When he was in power.
[i] When he was President of the Republic.
[r] Voilà président. It’s at the Fouquette. I went in front to take some photos. To show my compatriots to send back home. I know La Fouquette too, so I’ve already been there. Paris is so beautiful. I visited the shops. There are all the shops there Louis Vuitton, Dior. So. Even before we went in, now we’re going in and there’s always a queue to get into Louis Vuitton. So there’s a queue, but you can still look in from the outside. But to buy bags from these brands, for example, I can’t get them directly in the shops like that. But I can find them in sales depots. You see what I mean? They’re a bit cheap. Or if I want to treat myself, I can get them too. You can see how easy it is to live in Paris. But if I’m back home, I can’t, I’ll always have to make do with the Chinese. Their fake brands. Their imitations. But in Paris in any case, the French have given us the opportunity to live a bit of the life you want. Because if you really want to work. If you’re strong enough, you can even work. Three, you can find three jobs. In the three jobs there you can accumulate your three salaries. When you pay your taxes. It’s none of their business, you do your homework. If you have a job You can combine your work you can do everything you have with your money. So it’s really easy here. And then there’s transport. I know when I left my country. The transport was really difficult, you can stay at the bus stop so the buses come and go. But here in Paris: No, no, no, it’s not like that. We have trams. We have RATP buses. We’ve got … RER We have private buses. And then there are taxis. Now there are even Hitch taxis, here it’s hitch like that. Hitch makes it easier. So now if you can go out in the evenings, at night. I go out with my girlfriends, for example. And we call Hitch. So they pick you up and drop you off. So when there’s transport. It’s really safe. We don’t have any problems. So, for me, Paris is definitely not wrong. It’s the city of my dreams. I’m really happy. I’ve benefited from having understood my dreams of being in Paris.
[i] And you say it’s a beautiful city. What do you find beautiful about Paris? What is beautiful?
[r] First of all, the building. The building in Paris is really beautiful.
[i] The architecture?
[r] The architecture. Already when you see I insist on Champs-Élysées. You can see the scenery. In any case, it’s really beautiful. And then when you go towards… When you go to the Eiffel Tower. It’s really beautiful. And it’s not next to the Trocadéros. Yes, there is some architecture. There are pools of water.
[i] Yes, those Trocadéros, yes.
[r] In any case, it’s very beautiful. It’s very beautiful. I’ve even been there. There’s a park in the 15th arrondissement of Paris where, when it’s hot, there are water features coming out from all sides.
[i] It’s the Parc André Citroën.
[r] In the 15th arrondissement. It’s near Georges Pompadour, like this.
[i] Georges Pompidou l’hôpital
[r] Georges Pompidou l’hôpital. And then there’s the park next door. At the station, I don’t know, there are the trams. The 3 trams go through there. There’s a park there too. In any case, it’s very good. It’s very nice. I often went there with my son in the summer. When it’s very hot. And then he leaves. He learns, he grows with the friends we meet there. In any case, it’s very good. Paris is really beautiful. I’d say: back home there’s no … There’s no beach. In the capital we don’t have beaches. But there are beaches in the provinces. I would say in the lower Congo. There are beaches there. But we don’t have any in the capital. But in Benin, there are beaches.
[i] OK, but to get back to Paris. In Paris I wouldn’t say you have to go, I don’t know, just north of Paris to find beaches.
[i] Beaches or parks?
[r] Parks and beaches. I don’t have beaches. A while ago Mr Delannoye used to give us beaches, didn’t he?
[i] Paris-plages.
[He created Paris-plages. So when you’re hot you can sit by the rivers. So Paris-plages.
[i] Monsieur Delannoye, the former mayor.
[r] The former mayor of Paris. Yes, he’s the one who started it. Paris-plages I know when he started. I’ve been there. So every time I go. Paris-plages in any case. When it’s hot at home. I take my son. There are girlfriends too. From the provinces. And then we go to Paris Plage along the Seine. Yes, we go for walks. We see boats. We go fly-boating. In any case there’s everything. You can have a bit of money. But you can always have fun with it. So everything is done, everything is calculated. In relation to everyone’s income. Just like those who have just arrived. They’re still without papers. But there are leisure activities too. I remember when I was still at the hostel. We used to go out. We used to go out, so we’d go to museums We’d go to museums. We went to cinemas. So everything was done. Everything is calculated to make a person happy. But in my country it’s not like that. In my country it’s not like that. You can be in your corner. You’re poor, you’re unhappy. No one cares about you. No one looks up to you. Even governments. They don’t think about that. But here they do. In any case. They take their time. They consider us all the same. We come from elsewhere. We’re not part of them. But they welcome us. And they know that in welcoming us. We have rights. That we also live as people. You see? So, really, I’d say hats off to the French, God bless them again. It really is a country of human rights. As they say. They respect us in any case.
[i] So that’s from a cultural point of view. What do you think Paris represents? Culture, cinema, music. All that.
[r] In any case, I would say that all cultures are represented in Paris. Because there are several theatres in Paris. There are theatres that also perform. They play scenes from different countries. For example, there are Mexican theatres. And they play in the sense that they show a bit of Mexican culture. So in museums, for example, you see different cultures. There are museums where we visited a museum. There were only Egyptian cultures. There were pyramids and stories like that. So everything is represented.
[i] Musée du Louvre ?
[r] I went to the Louvre too. I’ve been there. We also visited, I don’t know if it’s still there, the Musée du Louvre. We visited Senegalese cultures. So, everything is represented. But if you want to cross. All these cultures across the street. You have to go to Château Rouge.
[i] In Château Rouge It’s an African culture.
[r] 18th Paris 18th. In Château Rouge there are really all the African cultures. So when you go there. When I go there, I find myself. Even the Chinese who go to Château Rouge speak Ugala.
[They know the things I’m looking for. For example pigs’ feet. We call them Makosso. So you tell him: I’m going to buy Makosso. He tells you there’s Makosso. So he sees you. He knows it by name. You go and buy vegetables that we call Foumboua. He knows. He already writes Foumboua there. So, at Château Rouge there are really all kinds of African cultures. You can find them there.
[i] And concerts, cinemas. Do you go there often? Not at all?
[r] When we go out, not really. Religious concerts. I’ve spoken before. When it happened. Now there are no more with the stories of the fighters. They no longer want the concerts to take place in Paris. So our musicians don’t come any more, like they used to. So they come to make their album. And then they come back, but they don’t play here. But what I have continued to do is cinemas. I’ve continued with cinemas. Because here in Belle Epine, next to where I live. There’s a big cinema. That I went to with my son.
[i] To Paris, for example
[Yes, to Paris. In Paris I didn’t go to the cinema, but to the theatre.
[i] Theatres. Oh, right.
[There was a group that did an imitation of Little Red Riding Hood. So we went and watched. And it was really beautiful. There were children there. So we went with the children. I’ve already looked.
[OK. And for you. If you had to choose a symbol of Paris, what would it be?
[r] The symbol of Paris is the Eiffel Tower It’s the Eiffel Tower. It’s really cardboard. It’s the Eiffel Tower. Because even when I came to confirm that I was in Paris. I went to take photos at the Eiffel Tower.
[To confirm?
[To confirm that you’re in Paris. So you have to take photos at the Eiffel Tower. When I sent the photos I was at the Eiffel Tower. So everyone agreed. Everyone thought: yes, now it’s really in Paris. Because before I used to go to Benin, I was trying to get back to Paris. But I couldn’t. So when I said that I was now in Paris, other people didn’t believe me. Others said no, he’s still in Benin. Now to confirm that I’m no longer in Benin. I really am in Paris. So I had to take photos at the Eiffel Tower. So when I sent photos to the Eiffel Tower they said: ah look, that’s my daughter. She’s really back in Paris. She took photos at the Eiffel Tower. So the Eiffel Tower is really the symbol of Paris. When you come to Paris, you really have to go to the Eiffel Tower. You can’t do without the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées.
[i] And you talked a bit about the 18th arrondissement. Which allows you to compare yourself as if you were in the country Why? What’s so special about the 18th arrondissement?
[It’s the food. Ointments, for example. Ointments that are applied to my skin. Here, as here, we have… So I can’t find fruit, for example. There are fruits called, I don’t know what they’re called in French. So I won’t find them here. But when I go to Château Rouge there’s always some. The ointments I use are African. But when you go to Château Rouge, you’ll always find these For example, filmed fish. Here in the neighbourhoods there aren’t any. But when you go to Château Rouge At Château Rouge in any case There are always some. I don’t know where they find it. So, that’s why I say that if you really want to meet people, you have to meet them face to face. You have to go to Château Rouge.
[i] And do you go there often?
[I go there to do my monthly shopping. So I’d say maybe once a month, but not all the time. Because I’m lucky, as I say, I live very close to Paris. So here in my neighbourhood, there are several exotic food shops. Where they sell African things. So what’s missing isn’t really much. So it’s easy to do my shopping here. In the housing estates. And as my son is a French kid, he eats like the French, but not like me. I continued to eat African food. But he eats like the French. So he shops at Monoprix and Carrefour. So it’s right next door.
[i] OK. Apart from the 18th and 15th arrondissements, do you usually go to other arrondissements in Paris? Are there any arrondissements that you particularly like? Or not, and why?
[r] I was lucky enough to spend some time in the 6th arrondissement. So I frequented it in the sense that I went shopping. But it’s also a really chic Paris. It’s a Paris reserved for the rich. And I’d say the 16th is also for the rich. 16th and 15th. I’ve taken off my girlfriends. I have a girlfriend, she was housed in the 15th arrondissement. It wasn’t too far from work because I used to work a lot at Porte de Versailles. So that’s where I started my first job at Porte de Versailles. To this day people still call me. From time to time I’ve worked there. In the exhibition centres. Where there are agricultural shows, car shows. All that. So I often worked there. And then I met a girlfriend. So she was housed very close to work. At Porte de Versailles. We gave her a big flat. He had 5 children. Him and her husband. So he was lucky. He was lucky enough to live next door to the rich. Next to the presidents. If you look at the presidents. Always starting with Mr Sarkozy. I liked him anyway.
[i] Now it’s President Macron.
[r] Yes, now it’s President Macron. But President Sarkozy. When he left the Élysée he went to live in the 16th I think he’s François Hollande too, isn’t he?
[I don’t know. François Hollande … But for Monsieur Sarkozy it’s true. he said Monsieur Sarkozy, who. Paris 16th is where we bought the prime ministers. He’s also the one who’s acquired fictitious jobs. So Paris 16ème is really where the rich live.
[i] So there are two Paris?
[r] Yes, there are two Parises. There’s the Paris where immigrants and normal people can live.
[i] Meaning? What do you mean?
[r] Which are really for the rich. For example, the Paris 13ème. Modest people. They live over there. I had a financier. So he lives in the 13th arrondissement. He had bought his flat. He had bought his flat. He lives a modest life, you see? He lives there. But Paris 16th. He even taught me the difference. He said he wanted to live in the 15th arrondissement at all costs. I said, “Why do you want the 15th? That’s where the rich people are. There really are rich people in the 15th and 16th arrondissements. I really liked living in the 15th arrondissement. But I said, why did you buy in Paris 13ème? When you liked it there. When he went to school. He lived in the 15th arrondissement for a long time, but to buy he bought in the 13th arrondissement. He told me no, he couldn’t buy in the 15th arrondissement. It was much too expensive. But when he went to buy in the 13th arrondissement, he found it. It was a bit more affordable and his parents helped him. To buy his flat. So he already said to himself: Paris 13ème is the Paris of the poor. On the other hand, the 15th is the Paris of the rich. There are celebrities there. Can you imagine? I don’t know, there’s a Mercure hotel. It’s in the 15th arrondissement. There were the players Eto’o It’s Eto’o like that.
[Eto’o? [Yes, at one point he lived there. He also received people. Even my girlfriend used to say: We’ll make an appointment to go and see him. It’s Samuel Eto’o. Yes. He’d tell me we were going to make an appointment to go and meet Samuel Eto’o in his hotel over there. At one point he was staying at the Mercure hotel. I know the Mercure hotel. Because it’s opposite Porte de Versailles. That’s where I used to work. So Paris in any case has more facilities. There are facilities. There’s help in Paris too. When I gave birth, we also went to Paris to Fer-Rochereau. I think it’s the 12th arrondissement…
[14th arrondissement.
[14th, yes We were sent there to get nappies too. There was a time when they gave us nappies. Even though we didn’t live in Paris. But Paris still looked after our children.
[i] And what about transport?
[r] In terms of transport, at least not a photo. Transport in Paris… In Paris you can’t go 5 minutes without having your transport. But there are others, bicycles.
[i] But what do you like? Is there anything you don’t like about Paris? For example.
[r] What I don’t like in Paris is unemployment Unemployment Because finding work is becoming a bit difficult.
[i] It’s getting a bit difficult.
[r] Compared to before. Compared to before and especially compared to my speciality. I’d say for work. I’d say that if you close your eyes, you take what comes your way. You’ll find work. It becomes difficult when you’re trying to do your speciality. Like this one. I’m always being called to do housework. The lady keeps calling me. But when it comes to my health, I’m very tired of it too. And then I’m going to do my speciality, because as long as I don’t do that at Geneser it’s not on. The days when I want to go, they’re going to ask me for experience. So I’ve got to keep working on that. As soon as I find some more placements. So that I can match what I’m looking for. On the other hand, if I only continue to accept. Go and do the housework. It tires me of course, yes but … I won’t practice what I learnt at school.
[And you, do you like Parisians?
[Of course. Of course I like Parisians. I told you Parisians are nice. They’re nice, yes, I like Parisians.
[i] OK. And how do you feel about life in Paris, your life in Paris.
[r] My life in Paris is like this I give it 7 out of 10 I’m not at 10 out of 10 yet. I’d give it 7 out of 10. Because I’m having problems. I’m still having problems. I haven’t found a good job yet. A permanent job, for example. I haven’t found a permanent job. So I’m only working temporarily. I only do replacements. So I wanted to. I still wanted to. Even if it’s not a permanent contract. Even if it’s an interest. I’m often called in accounts. I’d like to. But I’m not there yet. So I’m still having trouble finding a job. A real job. So that’s what I said. These are really the difficult points. It’s really the points that haven’t been resolved yet. But in terms of friends. In terms of health. In relation to others. I’m settled. I’ve found my flat. It’s HLM [social housing]. So I still manage to pay. My rent, my tax too. But I’d still like to find a job. A permanent one. But I only work part-time. All I do is fill in. So that’s really what’s stopping me. That’s what I said, that I’m not at the top of my game yet.
[i] And what has that meant for you?
[i]The city of Paris.
[r]The city of Paris brought a smile to my face. It’s done me a world of good. I’d say to my son: it’s the city of Paris that gave them to me. Because if I were still in my country. I would love it.
[i] I wasn’t going to give birth anyway. And me and my son wouldn’t be in the city. But … Thank God, God knows how to do things. I wanted to come to Paris and just when it was about to happen, I got pregnant. And my pregnancy was really a risky one. But, thank God, when I came to France. As in France, the doctors are wise. They have some, I would say how. And they have… They have science that is really evolved. Compared to my country. What’s more, despite that, they have advanced science. They really want to help, they want to save lives. So when I arrived here, that’s it. I was able to give birth. Normally in my country that wouldn’t happen. Because I was almost 7 months pregnant. I weighed 50 kilos and my son weighed 1 kilo. The same day I was arrested in hospital, the doctors. They were very surprised. Ah, 7 months pregnant and the child is almost 1 kilo. So I’d say I was almost anorexic. And then, I didn’t have any treatment The illness that I have, that’s until now. There’s no treatment, even here in France. There’s no treatment, only padlocks. So, with that already. Just as there was no treatment in my country. Not even padlocks, to get these padlocks. It was really too much. Expensive too. So, if I stayed there with my pregnancy, I wasn’t going to live. Maybe during childbirth. Already in Benin, they refused me, they said that we were going to follow you until 6 months After 6 months, you mustn’t come here any more You must go to … In the CH [hospital centre]. In a hospital. And then, thank God. Everything opened up, that’s when I had to get the visas and then … I arrived in France. And when I arrived in France… Well, I thought I was fine. But the days when I had a bit of pain 3 weeks later, I had a bit of pain and my brother-in-law took me back to hospital. And when I got to hospital, I knew I was going to go back with him. When it was my turn. And then, well. They took me in and asked me some questions. And then they started infusing me straight away. And then they told my brother-in-law. No, you go home, she’s going to stay. So I stayed, and that same night I was doing … Analyses. I was doing tests. Which meant that the next day. Around 7pm like that. My brother-in-law came back to visit me. And we told him straight away: No, but if you go out. I didn’t know why. We told him to get out. And then they started taking care of me. So I went barefoot. I went barefoot. I left my shoes on. So I was in my room like this, I see the nurses. They said no, madam, you’re coming. They took me back to a room and then I started to sign papers, they told me to sign papers, and I said what for. They told me: no, in your condition we’re going to treat you. The child can leave. So we made you all these papers so that the child’s codes. Be a little strong so that he stays alive. So I was barefoot. And then I was in a bank robbery. They started giving me IVs. Some… Infusions, there were sounds, there were really, there were lots of devices. I thought, what’s going on? Then they told me: no, you’re not going to stay in this hospital. We’re going to take you back to where the care is better. So we just told my brother-in-law, no, you’re leaving. Then I said no, I’m going to go and get my shoes. They said no, no, no, madam, you’re leaving just like that. Your brother-in-law will come and get your shoes. That’s it, I said I’d been brought back like a princess when I wasn’t normally allowed. But, but … So, with that, France gave me my child. Without the Parisians I wouldn’t be alive, me and my son. So thanks to their intelligence. Thanks to their science, which is really advanced. I’m alive. Because in my country they wouldn’t know. They weren’t going to save my life. I would have died. France gave me life. It has already given me my child. And I would even say long life. Because I’m not going to die now. And then I continued to take my treatments. France gave me life. France has done a lot. Even to my country. I had crises all the time. But here in France I’ve stabilised. It stabilised me. I had crises when I gave birth. I was in hospital every two months. And my son went to nurseries. So he went to nurseries in Paris. Paris 13e, Paris 14e. All the time. So my son doesn’t eat African food. Because of that. Because when I was outside the hospital. I gave him African food. Seeds. Everything we eat. We also give it to our children. But when he went to nurseries, we gave him jars. Food suitable for children. And at a certain point, he got fed up. He stopped eating African food. He stopped eating. He only took bottles. He took bottles until he was 56. He started eating at the age of 6. At 5 he didn’t eat anything. He only took bottles. Even yoghurt. I put them in his milk. So. It’s really thanks to Paris that I’m alive. Thanks to Paris that my son is alive. It’s thanks to Paris that I no longer have the crises I used to have when I was taken into care. When I got my papers. So I went to see the doctor in charge of treatment. So now they’ve taken me in. And I was offered the treatments I’m taking. And when I started taking these treatments. So I haven’t been in hospital for 2 years. So the attacks have really stabilised. And that gives me time to work too. So if I find work, I work well. I don’t mind. So Paris, in any case, has given me life. And I bless Parisians. I bless the French. I really did.
[Do you have any plans for the future?
[Projects, yes. Yes, I have plans. First of all, I’m going to find a permanent job. And then… And yes, I have plans, I have plans. I really want to stabilise myself. I want to save for my son. For university. That’s already good. He’s going to school. We’re just paying for canteen meals. And school supplies. I’d even say we don’t pay for school supplies, because at the start of the school year we give all the children an allowance to buy school books. But now for university, I have to contribute. I have to save. I’m really going to save for my projects. So that my son can study.
[i] And how does your son feel here? How does he feel?
[r] He feels good. He says he’s French. And I’m not. He makes fun of me because he says he’s French. And I’m not. And I said, but you were lucky. Because I’m the one who came here to give birth to you. So he thinks he’s a real Frenchman.
[And it’s going well then?
[Yes, at least he’s feeling good.
[i] And do you usually go out, go to the cinema?
[Yes. I went to the cinema with him until he was 10. Now I’m suggesting it, but he doesn’t want to go. He wants to go with his friends. His friends often come on Saturdays like this. They say they’re going to the cinema. Sometimes they ask for 15 euros. I can see that it’s a bit much. But he asks. Can I have 15 euros? Because we’re going to the cinema. Then we’re going to eat. And then I see his friends coming over. I give my son the 15 euros. And then they go away together. There are often parties, his friends’ birthdays too. But I started with him when he was 10. That it stopped. Yes, I told you, we went to see the Détiche film. I like that one. When it was released. So I brought him along and we watched it at the cinema.
[i] You usually go to restaurants in Chateau Roche.
[r] Up until now we’ve been going. We often go to McDonald’s. And then to Fletch’s. Bifalo. Yes. And when I was still with my friend from 13ème, he and I often went to Paris Gard du Nord. He liked to eat. He used to write Léon. It’s Léon like that. So with him, we went to restaurants like that. We went to restaurants in Paris with him. He’s a Parisian. He’s a Frenchman on top…
[i] Were you together for a long time?
[Yes, we were together for 8 years. We spent 8 years with him. The only problem is that he says he’s French. The French don’t give dowries. I told him that I’m African. Where I come from we still give a dowry. So it’s not a lot, we’re not going to take your money. We’re not going to take your possessions. It’s just a symbol. It’s just a symbol. But… He doesn’t want to understand. He says he doesn’t want to. I told him if you don’t want it, then let’s go to the Town Hall. Let’s go to the Town Hall. You only go to the Town Hall. We’re going to the Town Hall. And he also says he doesn’t want to go to the Town Hall because he had problems with his first wife. She was African too. So she caused him too many problems. I told him, well, I respect that. But all I want is just that. A symbol. Even 50 euros. You put it in the envelope. He says no. I can’t do that. I told him I work too. Sometimes I earn 1,200 or 1,300 euros. How much is it going to cost me for 50 euros, for example? Or 100 euros in the envelope. Tell my parents no. That’s it, that’s the endowment that… It’s just a symbol. I can do that but I can’t do it. It’s the man who’s going to do it. He says no, I can give you all the money in the world. Except that. So, I also said, well, when he doesn’t want that, it’s as if I were living in training. So I don’t want it.
[i] OK, so you’re 8 years old after all. That’s a long time. Were you still living in Paris? At the time?
[r] He used to live in Paris, he still does. 13th. I was at home there from time to time. So from Monday to Friday I was at home, because my son was going to school. And then on Friday evenings we’d go over there. Sometimes on Sunday we’d stay there too. If he wasn’t working, he’d take Lucas to school. He’d pick them up. But until I wanted to. The stories were a bit official for me. Because carrying on like that didn’t suit me. And as he didn’t want to either. I said OK. I’ll think about it.
[i] And is there any difficulty between Congolese culture and French and Parisian culture?
[r] That’s it. That’s really the difficulty, we don’t understand each other. What’s more, he says your parents are dead. Who am I going to give the dowry to? I said: There’s even a dowry for anerosymbolics. He says that even if it’s anerosymbolic, he’s not going to give it because my parents are also dead, you see? I said: no, at home even if my parents are dead, there are my dad’s brothers. My mum’s sisters are the dowry, so we automatically become her children. We automatically become. Under her responsibility. But … He says you’re of age, so you can’t be someone else’s responsibility.
[i] Why is it important for you to respect your culture, your customs as well as French culture? For me, it’s mainly to do with religion too. If it only depended on the customs of my culture. I could leave it alone. But in the Bible too. I’m a Christian.
[You are a Christian.
[It’s the same in the Bible too. In the Bible too, in the Bible marriages are considered, that’s it. It’s traditional marriages. It’s customary marriages. Customary marriages are like that. Where the woman’s family asks for stories like this. Brooms, glasses, plates. Stories like that. So, as he’s French, he doesn’t know all that, so I wanted him to represent everything. Just to give a sum of money. Just a sum. I told him you can only give 50 euros. But he didn’t want to. We even talked about a symbolic euro. A symbolic euro, my family told him. I was ready to explain to my family too. No, accept a symbolic one euro. He’ll give it to you. Because in his culture that doesn’t happen. But he doesn’t want to. He says no, and besides, your parents are dead. I can’t do that. And if you’re a woman. Why don’t you accept these conditions? So, in fact, what wasn’t good between us. It’s not the right one.
[i] And how do you feel at the end, or a conclusion in relation to the city of Paris For you. You said it saved your life. What else can you say?
[r] In any case I’d say Paris gave me back my life. Paris gave me back my life. The life I always had behind the doctor. In my country I was always in hospital. But when I arrived in Paris, Paris gave me back my life. In Paris I take my medicine at home. In Paris I see myself as a normal person. In other words, I can work properly like everyone else. I can earn a living. Without asking. Without waiting. For someone to give to me. Like it was in my country. In my country I was already very badly considered. I was really taken for a total handicap. But in Paris that’s not the case. So. In Paris I manage to overcome my disability. I know, I work and so I can look after my life. I can live the life I want if I want to eat meat today. I’d say I’m going to eat meat. If I want to eat vegetables. I’d say I’m going to eat vegetables today. So life has given me back my freedom. Paris gave me back my freedom. So Paris broke my chains. And Paris is really an extraordinary city. Paris is incomparable, I can’t compare Paris to my country. Or Paris to the provinces. Paris, in any case … In terms of transport, there’s everything. In any case, there’s everything. There are metros every 3 minutes, every 2 minutes. There are metros. Even buses. In… In Ile-des-Frances itself. Take Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, for example. I lived there for a while too. There’s only private transport there. So you have to wait, especially on Sundays like this. You have to wait 30 minutes. Or 1 hour later. And in normal time like this, it comes 15 minutes later. But not in Paris. So you don’t really have to worry about transport. As soon as you turn up 3 minutes later, the buses come. Even during holiday periods. So during peak times, it’s fine, it’s as if it were normal time, there are buses coming at all times. So we have several means of transport. So we have several means of transport. It’s good compared to… It’s good compared to Ile-des-Frances. Compared to the provinces too. So Paris is already reassured in terms of transport. I’d say the work side too.
[i] Have you visited other cities in Europe?
[r] Yes.
[i] Like what?
[r] I’ve already been to Barcelona. Barcelona is in Spain. I’ve already been to Barcelona. I’ve been to Athens, in Greece. And yes, I’ve also been to Belgium. I didn’t like it like Paris.
[r] The construction air is already different from Paris. It’s already different from Paris in any case. Paris is more beautiful. Paris is really more beautiful than Ile-des-Frances. I even went into the air. I’d say downtown. Downtown Barcelona. No photo. No photo with, there are the shops in Champs-Élysées there. Even in Paris 16th or 6th I told you. It’s really different. It’s a bit dark there. I don’t know about that. It’s the same sun that shines in Paris Over there it’s a different sun. I don’t know what it is. At home it’s a bit dark. I saw that it was a bit dark compared to Paris. Paris is shiny. It’s a bit bling bling.
[i] And you like the bling?
[r] Yes, I like the bling of Paris.
[i] Why?
[r] But that’s life. Bling bling is life. Over there it’s a bit dark. It’s a bit dark. It’s a bit quiet. But not in Paris. In Paris there’s movement. And I don’t know, in Paris everyone walks fast fast. You eat on the way, because you’re late. So over there life moves fast, really fast. In any case, I saw that it was a bit dark. It wasn’t wow. You go into shops like that. It’s a bit like the Deluxe shop, but what we have in Paris is a bit bling bling. As I say. It’s a bit dark. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it because you only pass through here. When I’m at Galerie Lafayette You only walk past Chanel shops, like this. You already see, Can I be the princess who’s going to wear. All this here. You see that it becomes for you. You walk past the Dior shops. You look at the perfumes. You see as if you were the star representing the models. On the other hand. Everything is dark. So you look. You just see. It’s something creative. On the other hand, in Paris there seems to be an effect. There’s an effect
[i] Paris effect.
[r] There’s a Paris effect on top of that. So. The effect where you can’t keep money at home. Who’s going to tell you buy me. It’s as if the thing is telling you to buy me. But at home you can look at it like that. There you say no, I’m keeping my money. I’m not going to buy. But when you’re in Paris, it’s as if it’s calling you. There’s the Paris effect. And in Paris you can bump into stars. If you think Kim Kardashian is in Paris, you can walk around Paris like that. You bump into them. But I don’t know where they are. If they also know that Kim Kardashian. Has come or what. I don’t know.
[i] You think Paris is more international than Barcelona, Athens and … Of course, yes, yes, I’m sure it is. Already on a cultural level. All the fashion designers. If they release their collections. They release them in Paris. Films. They release their films in Paris. Recently, Tom Cruise was filming Mission Impossible in Paris. Mission Impossible 6 or 5 like that. He shot them in Paris. So Paris really is the most beautiful city. Paris is better than Barcelona. Yes, I can confirm that. Paris is better than Barcelona. Paris is superior to Belgium. The cities I’ve been to. I’d say Paris is more than that.
[i] Why do you like the bling bling?
[r] The bling bling side, that’s it, I tell you, that’s life. We watch Tom Cruise on TV. And I see Tom Cruise in Paris. Can you see it? It was already on the news. They say that the Tuileries is closed because Tom Cruise was filming. So it’s easy for me to go. I can easily go and watch. And I can see how he shoots. So it’s easy for me to see them. On the other hand, if I’m in other countries. I won’t see them or if I’m in the provinces. I’m always in France. But if I live in the provinces. I won’t have this opportunity to meet Tom Cruise. Can you imagine? In my work at Porte de Versailles. I’ve met a lot of famous people. Can you imagine? Once I even said hello to Jean-Pierre Foucault. He was going up the lifts. See what I mean? So one time we were there cleaning up, and all we could see was people telling us to disperse, disperse, disperse. What’s going on? There was Madame [name] He had become.
[i] Minister of Defence. So I had the opportunity to see them. Whereas if I lived, if I worked there. I didn’t live around there. I’d only see them on TV. But here I was lucky. Even my girlfriend was lucky enough to have her photo taken with Mr Sarkozy. Before he became president. It was still during his campaign. No, François Hollande. So he was working. In the VIP toilets. And then there was Mr François Hollande who came into his toilet. And then the bodyguard said: You’re not taking photos with the future president. Then he said: yes sir, I can take photos. Then his bodyguard said: Yes, sir, I can take your photo. François Hollande agreed. Then his bodyguard took out his camera. His mobile phone, he took a photo. And my girlfriend sent the photo to her dad. Her dad organised a party when François Hollande became president. He showed everyone the photo for his dad. That’s my son, that’s my daughter.
[i] So you like Paris because of the image of Paris. The image of Paris
[r] Because of the image of Paris. Yes, it’s well built. It’s really beautiful to look at. And then there are opportunities that I couldn’t get if I was elsewhere. But in Paris I can have that. I have these opportunities.
[i] So it’s cultural capital.
[r] Yes, it really is cultural capital. Yes. That’s it, isn’t it? Because everyone comes here to produce their films, their music, even from my country. They come to produce their music here in Paris.
[i] And there are artists from your country who come here?
[r] Yes, recently Werrason. Yes, Werrason came. But he doesn’t play here any more. He doesn’t do concerts here any more because the fighters. The Persians don’t want to because there’s a war going on in the country. They say that our artists support the president. So they’ve banned them from doing concerts.
[i] Who are the fighters?
[r] The fighters are groups of people from the diasporas.
[i] The Congolese diasporas.
[r] The Congolese diasporas.
[i] In France, or … ?
[Who are here in France. It’s them
[i] Ah it’s them who forbid, the artists.
[Congolese artists from coming here to do their concerts. Because they say they’re behind the governments in power. But they come to make their clips, their demos. They come. Werrason was here recently. He came to make his clip. There’s a gentleman who’s got his studio here next door… At Vilari, then. They come to produce. They make their own music. You can see that Paris really is the capital of everything. It’s the capital of every country. So if you want to get ahead, come and produce in Paris. The Americans themselves. They produce all their films here in Paris. So I’m in the right place. I’m in the right place. Because all I need is the chance to wander around. In Paris and then I can bump into Kim Kardashian. Without even going to the United States.
[i] You like Kim Kardashian a lot. Because that’s the 3rd time you’ve mentioned her.
[r] Well, I like Kim Kardashian. But I love Eva Longoria more. As he was married to Anthony Parker who is French.
[i] A final word.
[r] The last word of the end. I would say that Paris is really the capital of the capital. So if you want to produce in life. If you want to be recognised all over the world, come to Paris. If you go through Paris, you’ll be famous. If you’re looking for fame, go through Paris.
[i] Capital of fashion.
[r] Capital of fashion. Capital of everything. Fashion, music, films. It really is the capital of the capital. If you really want, in any case, if you want to reach the whole world, go through Paris. You’ll get there. That’s what it’s all about. So I’d say I’m in the right place. And little by little I’ll get there.
[i] Little by little you’ll get there.
[r] Yes, little by little I’ll get there.
[i] Well, I’d like to thank you for your cooperation and for agreeing to speak freely in front of these microphones. There you are. Thank you, sir.