Migrants & Strangers

Un autre passage du livre de notre ami Bruce Whitehouse
(Migrants and Strangers in an African City); ici il parle d’un
autre sujet que je reconnais. Des propos que j’ai aussi entendu
pendant mon enfance. Dans le milieu Soninké (et Malien en
général) les mariages entre hommes maliens et les femmes locales
étaient extrêmement rares; ces femmes subissaient des pressions
terribles et railleries incroyables; l’incompréhension de la
langue du mari ou encore la non-familiarité avec la cuisine
malienne, entre autres, étaient des facteurs constants de
pression. Et les femmes maliennes se mariaient (ou étaient
mariés) systématiquement à d’autres maliens — très souvent à
des cousins. Mais avec la deuxième (et surtout troisième)
génération c’est vrai que tout se chamboulait.
“Any West African who marries a Congolese is not one of us,” Vieux Diallo declared to me bluntly one day during a conversation at his tailor shop.
Congolese women, he went on to say, were interested only in
money and would abandon their foreign husbands and their
children without warning. You could not trust them.The supposed shortcomings of Congolese constituted a recurring theme in the old man’s
statement to me, and the question of intermarriage was a particularly sensitive
subject. His wife Hawa was Malian and hailed from the same
town as he did. One of their sons, however, had married a
Congolese woman. Without knowing many details, I could
clearly see that Diallo’s relations with his son were
troubled, and he did not care for his daughter-in-law.
Diallo’s children were mostly in their teens and twenties by
then, and he was concerned about their future. They had never been to Mali, and
the best way for them to maintain some connection to the
ancestral homeland was through marriage to Malians who had
some exposure to it. At least two of his daughters had
married Malians, but that his son has chosen differently was
a source of concern for the old 

Diallo’s desire to keep the “old country” alive for his children reflected a much larger
preoccupation among West African immigrants in the region.
Through their everyday discourse and actions, they sought to insulate
themselves from the cultural influences of the host society.
(Page 149)

Encore un bon sujet de discussion au lycée.


A. Karim Sylla

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