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Film to flip script on migration

FE ONLINE DESK | Saturday, 27 November 2021


The last thing Aïssata Ndiaye remembers before waking up in a Moroccan hospital was shivering helplessly while watching her friend Khadija – a young mother – drift away in the Mediterranean. The inflatable dinghy on which they had been trying to cross the sea had just capsized. Ndiaye was only one of a few who managed to make it back on board.

Ndiaye, who was only 21 at the time, had paid a woman more than one million CFA francs (about $1,700) to secure her passage from Tangiers to Spain. She was hoping to attend university once she arrived.

The last thing Aïssata Ndiaye remembers before waking up in a Moroccan hospital was shivering helplessly while watching her friend Khadija – a young mother – drift away in the Mediterranean. The inflatable dinghy on which they had been trying to cross the sea had just capsized. Ndiaye was only one of a few who managed to make it back on board, reports Al Jazeera.

The idea behind the Migrants as Messengers initiative is to overcome potential distrust for institutional messaging by using peer-to-peer messaging from returned migrants instead. The programme trains volunteers in photography, theatre, journalism and video production, and works with them to start conversations in their communities.

The IOM has said the objective is not to discourage people from travelling, but rather to raise awareness about the risks of irregular migration and promote safe routes. Christopher Gascon, the organisation’s West and Central Africa regional director, knows that is not always realistic.

There also is the stigma refugees and asylum seekers face upon returning home. Fatou Guet Ndiaye, who directed the film Mantoulaye, said she had to repeat a school year following her own attempted journey.

As a teenager, she had boarded a wooden fishing boat bound for the Canary Islands, but had to turn back after six days when the captain got lost. Her parents were devastated.

“They scolded me – they even hit me – because they said it wasn’t right for a girl in her last year of high school to leave all that and go to Spain … in a pirogue with boys,” she said.

If she wins the competition, she plans to use the prize – new film equipment – to launch more projects and “showcase her talent” to the world.

“I know I will continue to focus on migration,” she said. “I have a lot of things to tell about migration; it’s so vast, so vague, there is so much to tell.”