Shot #1: You have been raised in many places, and been exposed to many different languages and cultures. If you had to pick one of these languages or cultures or places as more your own than the others, which would you choose and why?
I was forever terrified lest they told mama on me if I choose papa's country or vice-versa.
They're spies the Suspicion-Prone-Child-Fitèna used to think.
Why do they do this to me the Victim-Child-Fitèna would silently wail.
It's none of these bad people's business thought The No-Nonsens-Child-Fitèna scowling.
It's a hard choice says Me, today. For many reasons. Mainly for the reasons above. Born to parents from two different countries, two completely different cultures and two different languages makes me bi-everything de naissance. Not taking them for granted I sincerely wouldn't be able to objectively chose between those two. This narrows it down.
My most beautiful memories are those of my childhood spent in Niger. The best years of my life I always say. My primary school, my childhood friends, my father's friend at whose place we spent the holidays and who had 18 kids from 4 wives. The battles we used to have. The beatings I took from the big ones and took out on their little brothers and sisters. The memory of my mama clipping off our sometimes friend but most times enemy Hudda's fingernails. Because Hudda's weapons were her long fingernails. My sister's cheeks still bear her scratches. The memory of Hudda then telling mama You clipped off my Nails but have a look at THIS showing her a strip. The horrified look on mama's face. The memory of my friend Moundé who came to spend the night over with her little nephew and how we got scared by our own shadows and almost jumped off our skins and how he hysterically laughed at ourselves afterward. The neighbours at whose place I never knew why everyone went to watch TV; even those who owned one. How nobody left while the neighbour and her husband were having a row right in front of all. How we quit watching the TV and watched them instead. And no one left. On Eid day we'd go from house to house wishing all a Happy Eid and they'd give us money and offer juice and beignets. They never ever see us again but they act as if they've known us for ever. Memories of Le Fou du ludo, a crazy man who got crazier whenever he'd see miniskirt dressed girls. He'd chase them with a club. Memories of the boy mama employed and how he used to sneer at us whenever she wasn't looking asking You think You're black skinned White People, Don't you? And how mama did not believe us when we told her and how he was sacked the day she heard him. That was sad because by that time we'd gotten used to having him around. Oh, more good memories. The time I lost my front teeth and papa said there's something wrong with her teeth, they don't take 8 months to grow. I still haven't lost my self-conscious hand covering mouth movement when I laugh and smile. And oh so much more that cannot be enumerated here. The best. Am not choosing them though. They're mine to treasure.
I'd chose Mauritius where am living right now. An island where Africa and Asia meet and give birth to a palette of cultures and languages. It's not a culture per say, its a way of living different cultures and speaking a language which is a cross between broken French and seasoned with some English. A smiling Chinese faced Melissa, the belly laughter of my African descendant friend Wendy, the funny French accent of my Franco-Mauritian next door neighbour Gabrielle, the Divali lights lit at Meenakshi's and the Briyani we share at aunty Mahani's place on Eid day. Here, is a miniature planet. If this island not become, for you, a school where you graduate with the full knowledge of what respecting others with their beliefs an cultures means, then there's something the matter with you.
Shot #3: You can meet anyone in the world, and ask that person one question. Who do you meet and what do you ask?
Mr. President, you give me courage and hope to believe that tomorrow everything is going to be alright, but what gave you courage and hope to believe that, eventually, every thing's gonna e alright?
This is what I'd ask Mr. Nelson Mandela, when we meet. If we meet.
Meeting you has been a great pleasure. I wish to thank you for the humbling conversation we had. Your questions made me think a lot. About life, what we call faith and destiny. You made me realise that nothing happens in this life au hasard. Everything has a meaning. For those who pay attention.
Thank you for the simplicity of your questions.
My regards to Mr. Kimananda who arranged the meeting.
In the Parisian cold morning many people are sleeping outside. Because they're homeless. because in times of trouble they've had nowhere and no one to turn to. They sleep anywhere they can squeeze in, under the stairs of a building with upstairs people warming up with a cup of tea or coffee. They sleep in the metro. You stumble upon them turning a corner because you're in a hurry to reach home sweet home because its so cold outside. Seeing them, my father said, raised the hair on his head rise. It made us laugh because he's bald my father. But it wasn't and is not funny.
Yesterday I went to the World Press Photo exhibition hosted at the Netherlands Consulate. It was beautiful. So sad. The image of this five or six year old child being prepared for burial in a cardboard coffin by her father stayed on my mind and brought out the water of my eyes. You feel terrible because there's so much misery and you are oh so powerless.
A blanket. A blanket to make them warm in the cold cold nights that make them which they were never born. When they're unclothed and are ashamed because they can't even hold onto dignity, a blanket. A clean blanket for them in times of war and famine to give their dear ones a decent burial in. a blanket.
Tags: C'est la Vie :.: Fiténa :.: Interview :.: