About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of Refugee Fernand Diallo

Fernand Diallo

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Spain

Guinea

Guinean

Belal Darder Mohamed

Life in Europe is very difficult because it is not what we imagined,” says Fernand Diallo (23). He left Guinea 2018, where “it does not matter if you have a diploma… if you don’t have relations with the power, with the government, and you don’t have money, you’re not going to work.” He left in secret, and survived a challenging two-year journey through Algeria, Mali and Morocco. During the trek, he discovered the importance of mental strength, saying that “having a big body is nothing. You have to have a heart.” But he says the racism he faces now in Spain is just as challenging. He says that the Police paint all black people like criminals, and that he is overlooked for jobs because of his skin colour. Despite this, he chooses to stay. “I’ve endured a lot of suffering, but also to face difficulties, you have to be hard, and you have to endure… it’s patience.” He now hopes to earn enough money to move away from the racism in his area, and dreams of becoming a “revolutionary singer.”

Trigger Warning: Racism, Violence, Death

full interview

Not so far, I don’t have anything to say. What comes to mind, I say it.

Perfect. I’m glad. Tell me, what do you do in your day to day, Fernand?
My day-to-day, well. Monday to Friday doing the course. And then in the house, studying a little, doing a gym. Me with my sisters. And sometimes we play football together. Yes.

And what are you doing to feel happy?
Mmm, to make me, you can, at the moment it’s not easy for me to be happy because all conditions one is very, all conditions, not together is not going to fix my part because here I have document problems, problems of looking for work and home also because I don’t have a house at the moment. That’s why sometimes I’m not happy, but sometimes I have to be happy with people too.

And what do you do to be happy?
It’s when we’re playing football, or that’s when I’m doing sports sometimes if I’m doing sports I don’t feel angry or sad because that makes me forget a lot of things. If I’m doing the sport. And sometimes also with my songs, poems, I enjoy this, I write it and when I write it I’m very happy. When I finish writing it.

And how is your life in Europe? How can you describe your life in Europe?
Mmm. Life in Europe is very difficult because it is not what we imagined this, a lot of people. There is suffering from racism here. Of many things because here he still thinks they’re not suffering from racism, because they’re not teaching him, they don’t show him racism, it’s what we’re living, it’s a system that is here. It’s like before. I was looking for work when I had the red card. And they were doing interviews at the reader’s work next door. I wasn’t considered because I don’t know, sometimes when I call, we can talk on the phone and suddenly they tell me okay, come on, we’ll call you about it, we have to wait. And he leaves me because maybe because I’m black and they don’t call me. It also depends if it’s a construction job. They’re still calling me because it’s hard work. But here finding work for us blacks and not having luck is very difficult. You can find work and suddenly you, six months and they forget, they tell you to quit work. With these six months, your money isn’t enough. You’re obliged to sleep on the street. You’re obliged to be like what they say, criminals, drug addicts, sellers, and that. That’s more.

And you, uh… Did you imagine you’re coming to Europe? Or was it a sudden decision?
Suddenly, yeah. I hadn’t decided to come to Europe because I was, I was studying very well, normal, but when I lost and who was telling me is like my father’s friend. He was like a namesake because my name, we have the same name and I was living with him and in 2015 he died. And I was living with his son, being in, that son, we were the same age. But he was playing football and he was playing football and I went to see my family tell him that I want to be like in the military and my father has walked me in an office. And that military commander clearly tells my father that if my father doesn’t have two thousand euros I can’t be a soldier. And we didn’t have that two thousand euro too. And there was nothing to do. There is nothing to do in Guinea because it does not matter if you have a diploma or if you have finished studying. But if you don’t have relations with the power, with the government, and you don’t have money, you’re not going to work. And if you say you’re going to claim your right, they can fence you, they can catch you or they kill you or put you in jail. And suddenly I said, I hadn’t told my father anything, my father had no money. I saw his face and I couldn’t do anything. I had to go out and I went where I left the son, the son of my namesake I’ve been living, he was also playing football and I said it boy, we’re going out on an adventure. And he was afraid. That’s what had given him the courage to get out. He was afraid. He had money. I didn’t have money, but he had money. Just like he’s scared. And I was forced to push her so that we’re going out and one day she also decided that we’re going to go out together. The money I have here go to Mali. And we’re going to the desert because they don’t pay money here. And today we decided to go out together and that’s why we went out. With him.

Did you go to Mali?
Yeah, we went to Mali.

And then?
Mmm?

And then?
Well. And when we went to Mali, we didn’t have money there too, but there was at the bus station. There was work there, like putting things in the car and we were doing this with him. And he tells me okay, Fernand. There are a lot of people who are getting in the car and hiding. If you want we’re going to hide in the car and go to Gao. Gao is in the center of the city, hmmm center of the desert in the center of the desert, Gao, and we did that. We hid from the car, inside the car, and the food we were carrying in this car there was food, there were fruits inside, and in three days we were on top of the car. That’s what we ate until we arrived at Gao and the driver didn’t know we’re in the car. When we arrived at one on, the border of Mali between Mali and Esagod there’s military there who are there like protecting the deserted zone because there are people who are fighting over that too and they caught us inside a car, and the driver himself didn’t know, and when the driver saw us, and he said what are you doing there? And we spoke French to him, but he didn’t speak French, he speaks only Bambara. And my brother, he understood a little bit of Malinke, Malinke from my, from my country Bambara of Mali they are a little bit similar. They were talking together there and the driver forgave us and they didn’t say anything to the cops. He paid the money and we crossed. We went up there indicating we should get to. We’ve seen that not what we thought because you’re enslaved. There’s military, there are people who have a gun. There are also people who take migrants to put them in jail and call your people to bring money. If you don’t bring him, he tortures you. And we’ve been with them. One of them got us and put us in jail. But we were also afraid because there were a lot of soldiers. And we’re going into this jail for three days. We didn’t have money, the food we ate, just once a day. Once. Up to three days. His… My friend called his mother crying and his mother brought the money for us to Khalil. And… He is the one who was with us, the one with whom we were caught by bringing us to the prison. We gave him the money and he bought, as they say, cookies with water there is one. As they say, there is a bucket like it has a lock, where you put water and it is done very well, that you have to buy it too in the desert. And we bought this. He, he bought it himself by putting water inside and we got in the truck. But in this truck, there were a lot of people, more than a hundred, and something like that in the truck. All this, coming on, train, trying to enter Algeria and we have gone with them in the desert, mmm we left on that day at 5 in Gao. And we went to, we went in the car, in the desert, walking, walking and we stayed the first time. We’re meeting Mali’s military. They told us because the driver was a Tuareg. And the Tuaregs disagree with the Malian military. And Mali’s military boy tells us well, we can leave them, you’re gonna go, but your driver is the bad, meaner than us because he wants to get in, he’s going to come in if, he leaves you with his friends later, but we didn’t want him. We said no, okay, we want to go, we want to go if they want to leave us, go. They also let us go, left us completely forgotten and we have also started driving. We went up, at one and no, the driver tells us well, today we’re going to sleep here. And the driver says we’re going to sleep like that, suddenly we’re going to cross because obligatory we’re going to stay with the Tuaregs who have a gun, which is in the desert. And the boy hadn’t told us that and we had no more money with my friend. Nothing. Well, they say well, they still have one, to have them, that those who have, we are going to give this, and they have paid and then we went on with those, with those attitudes, walking, sleeping on the street, walking.

In Algeria?
That’s the desert.

Desert?
Yes, the desert is too big, you also have to walk a lot in court. And we have also met these Tuaregs, it was at ten o’clock in the morning, on that day we arrived in Khalil. And they got us out of the car, they felt us, put us in the hot desert, the sand was very hot and some say to pay everything we have to leave as something as a guarantee, fix, good shoes, a good shirt, everything. I still had those who have telephones, too. They’ve taken our whole phone, all our stuff, and we got into Khalil.

Khalil, is this in Algeria?
No, it’s still in the desert.

But in which country?
That… That’s Mali.

Mali.
Mmm. Because it’s desert. It’s, well. The desert is like, where there is petrol and where the Tuareg are. The blacks are fighting over this and whites, whites are also mixing from each other. The desert is now very very big, more than a country. And we got to Khalil we also thought here okay, here we’re going to do everything normal and more. We’ve also stayed with the people who are there, they’re very bad people. Also or it’s because that Khalil, there was a war before like 2012, there was a war and they sent him, they put, they fought in that city and had spent the whole house. People who are, there was nobody. People who are there to cross migrants, who help migrants to cross, but with their rules also with money. And we got there. They got in the car with as they say…

Guns?
No, with big trees to hit, people getting out.

With sticks?
Yeah, getting out, hitting us. We keep getting out and we get closer. Will it be from a house? To a house in this heat, almost all people were vomiting, people were crying in there and my brother…

Vomiting?
Yeah, vomiting inside.

And crying?
Yeah, crying and we couldn’t do anything. And the boy says well, you have to pay the money before you go, there’s, brother, my friend, his mother, who brought the money.

This too?
Yeah, on this to get into Algeria. And with this we paid. We went out there. In that city also at 5, also entering Bordj. There is another one in the last city in the desert, before entering Algeria. And here in Kalil, we have to walk, walk, walk together there until 5. From three, until three in the morning we are walking and we have entered Bordj. They have separated us 15, 15, 15, 15 every person with his, the people, every person, because they also are there, divided. And when the migrants come, they are divided, each person gets 5 and then you call, these 5 are going to call his family to bring money. We’re like.

Hostages?
No, like, like the things they sell, companies, right?

Yeah, yeah.
Like companies. Because all the people we found in there, like they want to help us. They’re asking for money.

Mmmhmm.
That’s their work in the desert, too.

Their business.
They’re like a business.

Yes.
And they asked us for the money, too. Same parts, my brother’s friend. We have to pay. I had no more money and they talked to the people of the desert, Tuaregs also, that they have a car to embark and arrive in Algeria. And we got into the car without, 15, 15, 15 people. Too crowded in the car. And so we went out in the Bordj to enter Khalil. But also that car does not us, as they say, he has said that they’re not going to bring us to Algeria because when they catch him they’re going to put him in jail.

Mmhmm.
And they’ve taken us to a, up close to here. You know? Not in Algeria, close.

Near the border?
Yes, we have, they have told us, dude, there, there, Algeria, Algeria, us putting hands, but don’t you see, don’t you see where we’re going? And here, they say [speaks in another language], they don’t speak French, they speak zigzag and tell us to walk. And we started walking and we started walking with, there were many people who had strength, who have a large body, but in that walk, I had not known that having a big body is nothing. You have to have a heart because even if you can’t stand it, you won’t stand it. And one too, who was already with us very small, who had reason to walk. But the big ones were really tired because in that desert you’re gonna see, you’re going to be walking. You see people’s shoes. You can see… how do you say? bone.

Bone?
People’s head bone and shoes very well on, you know? And with this people started to, they were afraid. And we started walking, walking, walking, walking. We’ve still separated and I was with two people, no, three people. My brother and a Fula boy, also from the same country and a boy from Ivory Coast. And we walked until 5. Suddenly, when we got near, near this city, there was as they say, like a part of water.

A lake?
No, it’s not lake, it’s something, as they say…

A reservoir?
Hollow, it’s like…

The reservoir, which is on the ground and you get water out of there.
Yeah, and when we went there, it’s really very…

Well
Very deep.

Reservoir, well.
And it’s very deep. My brother, too, no one could get down there. It was, I was the one who sacrificed myself by getting me down. I didn’t know if there were snakes inside, not even there’s something wrong in there, but since we wanted to drink water, I went down on that one.

Did he get any water from you?
Yeah, I went down, like, like tilting or you know, your leg and here you’ll go down there and we had like a car bucket that it’s in a car. We’ve closed this way. And the water I put water inside it somewhere else and we’ve got they were lowering this down. I was inside the bucket.

Aha.
When I arrived near the water I have removed my shirt by putting it in the water before drinking it and drinking. But also the water is very healthy.

Aha.
It’s very cold, but you have salt, the desert water and there was no food. Then we didn’t just eat cookies.

Aha.
In everything, I’m telling you there are always cookies with water with salt. That’s why I had a lot of people who were dying with this. Because of this salt and I’ve climbed with the water with my brothers still to take, to drin… To drink a little but the boy from Mali didn’t drink too much, he has tried it and he wouldn’t drink it all.

Aha.
He started to agonize. And I told him what we are, we’re at 5:00. Well, we started walking. It could be that our sister has been in front of us, come on, and we, three, four people, have started. The Fula boy, he was very, very, very, very tired. He couldn’t. I saw him when we were walking and was telling him “meunky meunky” in our language.

What is it?
That means I’m tired, I’m tired, I can’t, I can’t stand and my friend took him by the hand walking, but in the end, my friend was also tired. Everyone here was tired. No one can’t stand to exploit his brother. We left it there and when it falls on the ground we left it there and we started walking. We walked until 5, 8. Eight the same thing we arrived in one, it was one, as they say, as a fountain also where there is water. And there you know the Tuareg, the Arabs, they like that, this food. How is it… Tamarit is what they eat. The Arabs like it a lot to grow. We’ve come close to.

Date.
Date. Close to this. We’ve eaten this a lot and drinking good water until 12 o’clock. That’s how we got out in that part. We can get in there at 4. So 5 to Agid. When I got in there was water. There was also and I stayed with a shampoo with water. I’ve seen this near the city that they were building.

But you’re already in Algeria, aren’t you?
It is in the first city of Algeria. Agid. His name is Agid.

Agid?
Yes. and…

And then what have you done in Algeria?
Then we entered Algiers, starting to do as a construction assistant. They are making constructions.

Constructions?
Constructions, yes, and…

And then you worked on construction?
Yeah, as a construction assistant. But that also depends because you can stay with a bad boss or a good boss, with a boss paying you and a boss who doesn’t pay. Because there is no law for migrants. You’re there working. You can work two months and one day your boss picks up, he’s gonna take a gun for you. You’re obliged to get out there. Where are you going to talk to the cops? You have no paper. The cops are looking for you. Because the cops are also looking for migrants in Algeria to put him, as they say, return him in the desert. And we’ve been there…

And how long have you been there?
8 months.

 
8 months in Algeria.
Eight months in work. And I told my brother come on. We went because he had worked, too, but in these months I’ve been paid six months. And but, since there was food, well. We have taken this money every person and arrived, come to Oran.

Oran?
Oran is the first capital of Algeria. Here we got with a guy who can go help us cross Morocco and we paid him money. There were also a lot of people, too, more people who wanted to cross from Algeria from Morocco. Well, we’ve been with them, walking, walking. That’s also three days because you have to walk, hide from the cops because the border cops are also looking for immigrants. And with this, you have to walk, go around, go around in the mountain. We were going around in the mountain. There are a lot of gaps in this mountain, there are police dogs that were screaming but the police don’t see us. He has his, as they say, his flashlight, looking for us as they were, as we are above, above, and [unintelligible] In a village, he does not see us and so also not everyone who can cross. Morocco, from Algeria to Morocco, because we were 100, 118 people I remember, and we arrived in Algeria 38 who have arrived in Morocco.

Then you left Algeria with 118 people. And when you arrived in Morocco there were only 38.
38 people.

So there’s like 70 people or 80 people who…
That they couldn’t, they couldn’t because it’s very difficult. There are things I’m not telling you there are like I’m fine, but there are things. You’re walking. You see your death and you see your death, and when you die, there too, no one is going. Not your father or mom. No, no one is not going to look at you. I’ve seen a big person, a big person down, that is, low… In front of us. But people came on top of him crossing, crossing. He couldn’t get up anymore. Just like I didn’t have time to look at him or help him. And because you have to run. There’s not. The guy who’s driving us to Bott, how do you say… Morocco in that city called Ushda until we get there, the boy doesn’t stop, he doesn’t control, you have to follow him. Yeah, if you lose it, you’ve lost it. The police are going to catch you. You’re lost until one day someone catches you. Let’s say.

Then the boy goes. And you…
Following him.

Following him. You can’t lose sight of him, can you?
We don’t have to lose him. If you lost, because he makes a line, you know? So as not to lose him. A very long line.

A…
A line of people.

Ahh, a line of people.
Yeah, we have to line up… To line up with him. He’s ahead and we’re there.

Behind.
Behind and we’re going to follow him. Not everyone can follow him. You can still leave it…

Divert.
Divert and yes, divert it. And I don’t know how he meant well with people. We can walk until a moment that says, stop and tell us we have to wait here. Well, I’m going to find someone else. And he’s going to look for him, he finds one. And I still can’t find him and well. And we’ve been there walking until we entered in, and that’s what we’ve been in for three days. We’ve arrived…

Wait. Let’s see, you’ve come to Morocco, right? Okay. And what have you done in Morocco?
Well, in Morocco there was no work to do. I went, I was lucky with my brother, like when I was in Guinea. I was doing the musuca. I had a lot of friends and I have a great person who is in Morocco who makes the musuca he’s done in a long time.

What is the musuca?
The music

The music?
Yes, he sings in Morocco, there, he sings that he has as an instrument of Africa for that, so, with this, he goes with inside bars, bars in Algeria, no, Morocco. Algiers, that was in Algiers.

In Tangier?
In Tangier.

Then he sings in the bars of Tangier.
And people give him money.

And I went there living with him, with my brother. He had rented a flat. I’ve been with him there, what he found. No, it wasn’t worth anything. He had a woman, white, he has a house and he has food, but with this gypsy, I’m still with this because I’m not, you’re not gonna be anything. There’s no work. You’re not going to find enough money, because maybe that rented house, it is the woman who helps him complete money. And being with him two months and there was, I had a brother here too, who had to cross, who wanted to come to Almeria, in Spain and who had money to buy, as they say, patera.

A patera boat.
With that patera we were five people and my brother, the one I was living with him, he tells me. Are you going to follow them? And you’re going to try to cross? And I say okay, I’m here for this. And we went near the water. But when I heard the voice of water, I was afraid. But here too, more than in that role, you don’t have to be afraid. We have. But this patera didn’t have a motor. That’s like, trees, what are they doing here for? To get in.

Yeah, it doesn’t have a motor, then you have to.
Drive yourself.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.
But the water is stronger and stronger than us. When we started to put the patera, the water boom! It pushes us. But there was a boy from Ivory Coast who had a heart too. When the water comes, he got into the patera and the water was coming very hard. And the water, there was so, like that, you start or.

He turned around in the boat.
He turned around, yeah.

He turned around. And he fell into the water, didn’t he?
Yeah, he falls into the water, but the water wasn’t… Where he fell. It wasn’t very close. He could come close and climb, but as with this noise trying to put us on the patera, the cops find out and the police started to come with their flashlight and, as they say, big dogs and with, like with stones, throwing this stone at us. We were forced to run and we ran, we left the patera there. On that day we were not lucky to come in and went to the house and I’m in the house for a week. And I said to my brother. Let’s go to town. How is it said? Nador, but Nador is a town. Nador in that city. But where the people, emigrants hide a, where there is, what is it called?

On the mountain?
Yeah, in the mountain, in the mountain itself he was hiding. But with this mountain also the police who are paying for the European Union, who takes immigrants on that mountain to return them into the desert.

 
To return them to the desert.
Yes, in the desert, and also if you sleep on this mountain, you have to take care because every morning they come in their car, they come with over 18, 15 cars, 20 cars to look for us. They’re coming, you can catch one and you get one. Maybe if you get caught, they bring you to Hafez and you come back more, you pay money, if you have money, people bring you the money to get back more on the mountain and you have to be on the mountain and pay money to people. There are people also, they have to work with Arabians who buy patera that has a motor and I didn’t have money, my brother who had the money and his mother didn’t have anymore. I understood that and he had the money and, uh, he’d crossed before and I couldn’t cross.

Because he had money.
He had the money.

And then he was crossing before you
Yeah, before me and I was on that like they say on that mountain. Six months…

Six months on the mountain?
Yes. You don’t like it, it’s only a week to time for a time, a week or.

What a week?
And you take a shower for only a week. Between one, it can be 2 weeks without showering.

You can spend two weeks without showering.
No showering.

And how was the food there?
That’s the food. People are quoting it, people are trading. And also if you have the money, they give us. Sometimes people trade.

Quote, you mean to share.
Share money and buy things. There’s water going up there. People knew it too. That’s what I’m telling you. -No? It’s emigration, it’s like.

A business.
A business. Because when we were in Morocco, the Moors who brought up water and sold us.

They sold water.
Yeah, they go up, how do you say, chicken, everything, everyone, and they sell, we buy it. Imagine that time we’re suffering in their country, but we’re also paying for his jobs, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Well, I’ve been there. Say, the guy who wanted to help him cross, he says well, you’ve been six months but you’re going to be with me and working, you help me get people and one day I’m gonna put you in…

So, you helped the boy because you didn’t have any money. Then you worked with him, with the boy, to get you a place on a boat.
My friend had crossed a long time ago and I was there six months. After those six months, the guy who helps people cross tells me if I help him get people is going to help me cross the door.

So, instead of paying him money, did you help him?
Yeah, yeah. Because well, in that, in the village I had been a long time and I already knew a lot of things inside. And with this, he says well, let’s go to work. How, and how are we going to work? If people call me to want to cross and get in touch and also if he has people going out at night to enter Europe, I’ll accompany him until he stays with the Moors because they’re just foreigners, they don’t know how it works. And I’ve been on that mountain a long time, I know everything, even near the water and that’s how I was with people. I have accompanied two groups twice. They came in and the third group, I didn’t say anything to this boss and he wanted to accompany me to them. Well, to accompany them near the water. Well, and when I saw the boat, I saw the engine and it was also a, it was very easy to climb. And I say in my heart that I’m not going to stay here anymore and when they have climbed just like me, I had also climbed inside and we started to walk in the water. We’re 2, not 8, 8, 9 to 9, we’re out. We’ve been in the water walking, 9, and I’ve thrown up myself, uh, how do you say?

Vomit. I threw up.
I threw up a little inside. And it’s like someone tells me to sleep, I’ve slept there until six with that risk, everything. Because I didn’t know and at six o’clock I get up. We were very close.

From Spain.
From Spain, from a mountain, there is a mountain in Motril, it is the center in the water, you see, that has a lot of humidity. And then we followed this mountain because we didn’t know where, how we’re going to enter. We followed that mountain. And walking, walking, walking. It’s at nine. As in history, there are people who told us that if you’re in the water entering Europe If you are with some animals, like, it’s like fish, which is called in French, mmm, there is a big, like.

A big fish.
Mmhmm. Dolphin of…

Dolphin.
Yes. And if they come close to you, that means you’re very close to getting inside and you don’t have to talk. And when we’ve seen in one.

Dolphins.
Yeah, but that dolphin was too long. Sea, like our boat.

Yes?
Three, yeah, three, three dolphins. Another for here, another for here, and one in front. And the one who was ahead. We followed this and not the.

The dolphin guided you, right?.
That’s how a lot of people do. It’s like the story, but when you see them in the water, you don’t talk, you don’t have to talk. And we followed this dolphin, which was calm, and suddenly and.

It disappears.
It disappears. In an hour we’ve met the Red Cross rescue. We met them and they have caught us and put us in the water, on the boat to get to Motril. Because if you’re somewhere, they’ll save you too. And they caught us up close to the water and the cops have caught us more putting us in jail.

What did you feel when you came to Spain? After how much, how long, how long?
Uhh…

Since you left Guinea until you arrived in Spain. How long? Two years?
Two years.

Two years of the trip?
Two years on that trip. It’s that, just two months.

You know if you catch a plane from Guinea to Spain, it’s a couple of hours.
It’s a couple of hours. But they can, they can catch us.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. But you, it took two years.
Two years before we came in. And that was my goal, to enter Europe.

And what did you feel after two years fighting to get to Spain? What did you feel?
No. After all, that when we’re on the rescue. When you ask immigrants that all those who have done that are happy there, like the very moment they’re going to have the rescue. Because that way, if you’re in the water, it’s like you’re dead. Nobody saves you. You’re dead, you’re dead. you say. I’m dead. And then, if you see someone who saves you from death, you have to be happy. And we were very happy. Screaming and screaming a lot until the police catch us putting the jail. But we were also in jail very happy.

In the prison in Spain, pretty happy.
We were very happy because we were saying this is Europe. This is not Africa as prisons in Africa. And in four days they left us. We have been brought to Granada, Granada, Barcelona, Granada, we caught a plane and they have closed our hands as if we were slaves. And we must have entered Barcelona and they brought us one, what is it called? A station room for foreigners. We were there, six. They’ve seen us. What are we going to do? Sixty-five days. But we’ve done, I’ve done this two weeks inside. Because there were a lot of people who were saying let’s leave them here, it’s a jail to deport people and they’re new. And with this, they left us a group, group, group, group, group, and when they left us, I went to Jaén.

In Andalusia?
Yes, to Jaén and there were women from Cross, with a woman from Pink Cross.

 
From the Red Cross.
It was her who took us and brought in Jaén and in Jaén I started to study Spanish. Little by little. And they tell me there you have to stay for two months and go. No one stays more than a few months. And I didn’t want to go to France. There were a lot of people who wanted to go to France, but I stayed that way.

I, what, I mean, you wanted to be in Spain.
Yeah, I wanted to be in Spain.

Why?
Well, because of the dream, but now Iit, regret you know?. For the dream of Madrid here with the stadium, players and maybe the French do not like it for a long time.

You don’t like the French.
As they have colonized us, they’re still colonizing us. Just as it is because of them, he got out of a… I didn’t like anything about them and I decided to be in Spain, and when they tell us in two months we have to go out, in two months I went to Burgos, there were old friends and they helped me asked for asylum and so began to live in Spain. I started, I asked for asylum and they tell me to go…

 
Have you asked for asylum?
I’ve asked for asylum. They tell me later. What’s going, are you going to Madrid? But you have to be here for six months too. And I’ve been there six months before. While the blues, following the process, studying, doing what they say, and one day they call me and tell me you have to go to Madrid, they will give you your red card from Madrid, and I come to Madrid here. And to Madrid.

And what, tell me about your life in Europe. How? How does it make you feel in Spain?
Mmm, in Spain I feel good, like a man who is a little, who is as in security, I’m security.

 
Are you in?
Security.

 
Security, there is security.
Yeah, there’s security and above all, people who are racist, who are a bad person. There are also people who are very good, who are, who help immigrants, but there are bad people are a lot too because bad people are not always people who tell you “fucking black” you are, black you have to go in your country. No, it’s not just me, there’s also like a problem in discos to go out dancing. A problem in finding jobs. That’s it.

So bad people are not only the people who tell you fucking black, but also the people who cause you trouble at the disco.
At the disco, or for example. There’s a plan, there’s a way to do racism. Take a note. For example, if you don’t want black people to enter a nightclub, you can come, a black one, very well dressed with your money and they tell you how good here we have the private party today. Well, you’re not going in. And in that one, you’re going to see white people coming in without paying and you come with your money and they tell you you don’t come in. I’ve seen that twice here. It’s like people who have money, also owners of companies as well because they, the problem is them and they don’t let us work for their companies. They, they have the whole problem of racism. Racism. It’s true that I got hit here. The Nazis wanted to kill me in Aluche. But I don’t take it like that’s racism because if I have my job here, I have my money in my house. I’d be very happy but without that. I’d say the problem is that the problem people who have money, people who have the roughness, how do you say? People how… prey? right?

Companies.
Companies, they’re people who have companies there and they do.

The owners of the companies.
From companies, most racism comes from them.

Can you tell me the following? My dream, before I came to Spain was:
My dream before coming to Spain was the stadium, as they say, Santiago Bernabeu. Of all the players who are there.

Your dream was to get in or what?
For a long time, since I was a child until, until today I am 100% of Real Madrid. Yeah, that’s [unintelligible].

So your dream before you came to Spain was to enter Santiago Bernabeu?
Yes.

Well, say it.
My, haha. My dream before I came to Spain was to enter Bernabeu Stadium.

nd your dream now, say it, my dream now is:
My dream now is to be a revolutionary and, revolutionary singer.

Revolutionary singer.
Yeah, that’s my dream. And how am I doing it sometimes little by little.

Yes.
With the songs. I don’t like to do violence, not even the people who are racist towards me. I’d rather write everything. My violence is like writing it.

Yeah, you’d rather fight with your words.
With my words, yes.

And do you think a lot about the trip and racism? Do you think about these things a lot? On the trip you’ve made, all the difficulties you’re having and what you had, you think about this, Fernand?
Well, with the difficulties I have today, if I, if you asked me before being in the desert, I’d tell you if I knew what’s going on there, I’m not coming.

So, if you knew the difficulties…
What I got here today.

You wouldn’t have come.
No. But…

 
Say it, Fernand, if you knew the difficulties:
If you knew the difficulties.

I have today.
I have today in Spain, I wouldn’t have come. Because, like, when I was in the desert, I started to know that life is not easy. It’s just that I stayed in another world that I didn’t imagine because they told me when we were in Africa they told me on the street, it is not so hard, but when I started walking in the desert if I knew it also would not have come. Because the water is very, very hot, very dangerous. In the desert in the water. Because staying with dead people walking on them, if with this, even if they reach Algeria and their mind is changed without reaching Morocco or Europe, their mind is changed with.

From what you see, from what you see on the journey, your mind changes.
It changes you, it can still wait until we get here. We’ve seen this a lot. They may arrive, but his mind changes, he gets crazy. They can’t communicate with their family anymore. It’s very hard, it’s really hard, so we knew, yes we knew, yes it’s hard like that, a lot of people are not coming, but also you cross like that, white people steal from us. Take our job off, take us away. Because it’s like what they say we’re taking their jobs out here. On the contrary, they are who are taking us our jobs. And they steal from us as an example, Guinea airport is not mine, it’s from the French. And also the sketch that comes out, I told you that, the “bosquita” that comes out in my country as the place where this “bosquita” came out is the whites who are then pulling out and this “bosquita” go on the mountain.

“Bosquita”, what is that? The search.
“Bosquita”, “bosquita”, bosquit. Like resources

Resources?
No.

Oh, Fosfat?
Like the diamond, you know the diamond, don’t you? Diamond.

Diamond. Yeah, ah, is it some kind of mineral?
Mineral, yes.

Okay, okay.
Then the white people get this from.

Do they get this out of your country?
In my country, in that city, there is no, in the city there is no hospital or a school. And in that land they take, it doesn’t change that. People in Guinea don’t see that, they walk. They have like water like that and where they pass pretty close to the water and put him on a boat.

So what you mean is they get the minerals out of your country, and they don’t give any benefit to your people.
There is no benefit. It may be that their benefit is the people of the government who have it. But also that governor, they don’t give anything afterward. They leave you so, that those people who are working on the government, their children are here in their homes bought up here in America with the money of a lot of people. A person uses them and…

One person steals a lot of people’s money.
Everybody, yeah. Well, with this it pushes people out, because, in the end, it is poverty.

Let me ask you something, Fernand. How do you deal with difficulties?
How do I deal with difficulties?

How do you face difficulties, you, you, have seen, you have suffered many difficulties and still suffer many difficulties. How are you dealing with these difficulties?
Well, it’s like now. I’ve endured a lot of suffering, but also to face difficulties, you have to be hard and you have to endure, you have to be, you have to learn to control that feeling, you know. I don’t like that because I’m suffering, it puts me when I’m with people and I wear that autotune like I’m suffering, you know. What I mean is I am a victim of racism and if I victim… Victimize myself, with that attitude without doing anything, I prefer to endure and because in every way there is something possible, something negative with. Then I prefer to follow something positive, like looking for work, finding it, forgetting many things, but because a man’s life is like, he has many, many, ehh, like, he has many things to work, he has many things, problems in his head, he has a lot of problems, but you have to forget a lot of things also because he has come out a time in your country. You’ve seen that what you imagined wasn’t what I expected of you. Well, it’s better than, of being like the people who are here, who are holding on. They’re suffering from this same, being with them and looking for their life. Because if you have a job, here’s money. You’re going to suffer from racism. But it’s not everything. That’s why I prefer…

But what are your qualities? For example, there are people who are very patient. There are some people who have, I don’t know, what are the qualities that help you cope with this.
I, the patience. It’s patience, like, and how now. How am I, how am I living in a place that I myself would not like to live, in this place that is, but that is a place that… It’s a neighborhood first, it’s a neighborhood that everyone, that whites paint everything, the police paint everything because in this neighborhood they paint.

Paint is to paint.
Portray, portray, portray how all black people paint like criminals.

Yeah, either generalize, or they say that all black people…
They’re the same.

You live in a neighborhood that’s a lot of black people, don’t you?
There are many blacks, there are many Moors, there are a lot of bad things. It’s like when one day and the police caught me there and then when the cops looked at my role, they saw that I had no problem in my life and started asking for forgiveness. But before catching me, he talked to me a lot, they had done a lot of damage to me because I was in an internet providing center in Lavapiés there and I went straight in and they tell me, give me, give me, who has the paper. We have to get paper out and I started to take out my paper and my phone, they took my phone with my juice everything. It’s just that wrong this as a racist act, like yelling everything at me, searching my big bag, taking off my pants, etc., and that never happened to me. And then the police. No, people. The pri… Is the people who were near the square like black, white, who know me. That I don’t have a problem in my neighborhood started screaming and the police had called like a lot of people too, a lot of cops and a lot of reinforcements to help them, and we were locked up in the station with the cops. Like, five cops, there are, and since black people were screaming Fernand, Fernand, what’s going on? and insulting. There was a woman because people also think that this woman called the police, but it wasn’t her and people started insulting her. Since the police had called a lot of cops, they put me in the car directly to the police station. And when we got there and we got, they said dude we confused you, we confused you, we didn’t know, we’ve confused you and they tell me you walk with your hat and have your hand in the bag. Sorry, but it wasn’t you, but we’ve confused you. And I couldn’t, I couldn’t do anything you know. I had to…

Hold on.
Hold it and live with these attitudes. You know? That’s why I don’t like living it in this neighborhood. But you also have to be patient. When I found money, I can pay for my house or leave the neighborhood, so first of all it is patience is like, now if I didn’t have patience, I can, I’ll suffer more. Because when example I have left the red card I can tell every time I go in France for what? And to find Google Normandy very quickly, but just like if I go in this country, they’re going to get me back there, because already, yeah, I already have a lot of people around me who are victims of this.

That they returned him, that they went to other countries, and returned him again.
That they had removed paper, and went and brought him here for his…

Fingerprints.
Yeah, because of his fingerprints. So…

They’ve registered their prints here in Spain.
And they have to stay in Spain. And that’s why, first of all, it’s patience. Also fight like, do not despair. Say how I don’t have this, I said, that right? As if you don’t have a passport, if you don’t have a job, don’t say I don’t have a job, because I’m not going to look for a job. Since the Spaniards don’t want to give me the documents, he’s not going to study or speak their language. You have to be integrated into your things and know a lot of things and endure.

Okay. I think with this we’ve got enough.

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in english. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.