About Refugees, By Refugees
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Photo and interview by:
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Pat Masioni (pseud) always dreamt of “being free to express myself through film.”A refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), he now lives in France making comics and is a 3D designer for video games and film. In DRC Pat drew cartoons for newspapers but, he says, “there was no freedom.” Pat says the country’s leaders “didn’t tolerate being seen, being caricatured.” He says he realised he was in danger “when you find out that such and such a person has been kidnapped… they’ve been assassinated… it’s frightening.” It took Pat several months to have his refugee status accepted. That time, without his family, was difficult. “What helped me was my children and my wife. The whole time here in my head, I had this little smile, the beautiful faces with their smiles.” Love has sustained Pat and his family. “I care a lot about my children…Today, they’re adults and they’re balanced because they have benefitted from that love. I can feel they’re strong today.”
So, hello, Pat.
Can you introduce yourself?
Yes, I’m Pat Masioni and I’m a refugee here, in France. I’m Congolese and I make American comic books for a living, and 3D.
Okay. And do you live in a house, an apartment; are you pretty happy with your living conditions?
I live in an apartment and I’m happy, really, to live in these living conditions, and also right in the middle of Paris, so it’s really something that suits me very well and in a very nice area of Paris.
And do you have a family? Do you want to tell us a little about it? Any children?
Yes, I have a family, I have children. I’ve er, five children who are all young adults and one you is still, who is 16. So yeah.
Okay. And what do you do with your days?
Erm, I work, I work every day. Erm, I have a job that I like. It’s, I wouldn’t say it’s a passion of mine, because it’s my job, but I like my job and I don’t count the hours when I work. As an artist, I work mornings, evenings, sometimes overnight at the moment, but when the children were at middle school, at that time I looked after them much more during the day and I worked at night because it was really important to supervise them, because they needed it. Because they came from the Congo, everything here was new and also here in the neighborhood, it’s a erm, a middle class neighborhood. Erm the, their classmates, they were children who, the studies erm, weren’t difficult. And they came from the Congo, they had to adapt and catch up with the others. And it wasn’t an easy job. So their mum and I, we strived to really help them to be at the same level as their colleagues, their classmates from Paris. With God’s help, they put up a good fight in the end (laughs). They have erm, passed their baccalaureates with honours, received French Certificates of General Education with honours so erm, you know, it was, yeah.
Okay. So you managed to balance your family life and work life or was it difficult?
Um, I make it work because er, the children really needed me. At the same time, I have work, and at the same time I have to look after them every day; um, cook for them, erm which wasn’t the case in the Congo because back in the Congo (laughs), I didn’t cook for them. But here, they go to school so early in the morning only to come home quite late in the evening, around 7pm, you can tell they’re tired, erm, I felt bad not doing things for them. So I had to cook for them, erm, help them with their homework, take them when one of them had um, a sports lesson or erm, went to see a film or whatever, so yeah, I would take them. So erm, that’s the advantage of a job like mine. And at night I worked on my comic books.
And how do you feel when you work on your comic books?
Oh I feel good, especially if the text is solid, erm, I love it a lot, I love it a lot, I love it a lot. So yeah.
Okay. And do you have, outside of your family and the comic books, of your work as an artist, do you have other passions or things you do, hobbies?
My passion, erm, I have a passion for, erm I’d say, it’s 3D, it’s both my work and passion at the same time. A bit of video games, but not much. So I’m much more on the creative side, like my wife too does travel logs and she’s creative, she’s an illustrator, so we’re always into that kind of thing, and yeah. But I don’t like to say that my work is also my passion, because I don’t draw for pleasure, I draw to make a living, so it’s a job. It’s a job.
And when did you first start drawing?
Erm, not particularly young, like everyone says. It was my brother who drew from a very young age. For me, I was around 13-14 years old when I started. But before that, I was much more into cinema. I did some film projections erm, my father had erm, let me use a little room in a space where I made projection equipment and I projected films. At seven years old! Erm, that was the thing I really liked, I really liked to do it too. I even drew, but always with the cinema alongside. And when I was 20, 25 years old, I already had a small, a projection room that I kept until I was in my 40’s. So I always had a small place for cinema in my life. So yeah.
And what kind of films do you really like, did you project?
Erm, action films, you know, that was for fun, like, to have some fun, to chill out with buddies. So yeah.
Okay. And so, you started drawing at 13-14 years old?
At 13-14, yes.
And how did that make you feel when you would draw, in terms of feelings?
A lot of pleasure, because erm, everything I watched, the films erm, lots of films. It was another way of telling a story, with images. The image that was shown in the cinema and I found it in comic books. That’s it, there was always a link between the cinema and the comics I made. And it’s what happens today as well, I’ve really got back into cinema too. So there’s always a continuity in what I do.
You mean with the 3D?
The 3D, yes, that’s right. I get back to what I’ve always loved, deep down.
Ah, that’s interesting.
Yes. When I’m creating something in 3D, I feel really happy, fulfilled, really fulfilled. It’s a symbiosis of drawing, the image, and sound! Everything is all mixed together, and that’s cinema.
Okay. And you have, I guess, is it you who decides, do you have total freedom to choose?
Yes, total freedom because now I have, with all my experience over the years, now, I am starting to make a whole, a whole film piece, on my own; music, and shaping the characters, the set, everything, so the images and sound together and editing it all and everything, I’m doing it. And all of that, is down to being, I have a past which has been influenced a lot with, by the screen, you see.
And so how do you, have you studied art? How did you become a professional cartoonist?
Erm, I did my studies in fine arts in Kinshasa. And later, when I arrived here in France… Here in France, I didn’t, I haven’t done any training, here. Yet the good thing is that, coming from a country where, erm, I had pretty much everything but, we don’t have electricity every, each day erm, let’s say every 24 hours. We have electricity for three or four hours a day, and when I worked with my computers, well I was unable to progress further because there were power cuts, and that’s where I got really into comic books, because with comic books you don’t need, whether you have electricity or not, if you have some light you work, but with computers, without electricity, it’s not possible. Here, once arrived here in France, as my children were doing their studies as well I would work at home erm, there was a moment when I started to study the 3D software. It took me 10 years to master erm, the use of the software. Now, I can use about 10 of them I think. Yeah so um, that’s why I got into 3D, but I had time to prepare myself for it. So yeah. s
And can you tell us a bit about the context in which you grew up and what your childhood was like, talk about your teenage years?
The childhood was very, very happy. I’m lucky to have been born in a country which is immensely rich. And when sometimes, people from here or friends that I have, say: “Ah, see what it’s like in Africa!” I say no, no, Africa is not a country, it’s a continent. Myself, I’m from the Congo. “And what about the children, this, that…” Well, I say: “No, it’s not poverty.” Me, I’ve been here for years, I live in France. I’ve compared the way the French live with ours back there. But when you see a photo, you think those children are poor. But no! They eat better than many here. They eat better, we ate better. And also I compare, I have a French wife and I see how it goes and the cliché ideas that people have, these negative outlooks. They’re wrong, they’re in the wrong! Yes, there are a few children who, you know, they suffer from famine, but they’re only a minority. But the majority of people live well, eat well. Except that, in large cities, there’s some squalor, things like that but that, that’s the State’s business. A child who walks around barefoot or what-have-you, is not poor. They’re not poor because it’s hot, they’re free, we were free, we moved around, so yeah. We played, we climbed trees, we did everything, and everything. So really, I had a fulfilled childhood! And that childhood is what also gives me today, I live in France, whatever the problem or insults, whatever, I don’t get down about it. Because I have a solid basis. I had an education, I was raised in an atmosphere with lots of love, lots of love, and it’s that love, when I talk about the children because I was raised like that. Erm my parents, our parents, they gave us everything, all their love, whatever you are, you are loved within the family and that’s what I also passed on through my children. My children here, if they are able to take a higher education it’s because they’re loved, we support them. We support them. Yeah, so I had a very, very, very good childhood. Er except… At one time, I think I must have been 17 or 18, my dad fell ill. That’s when it was a bit complicated because, like any child, you look up to your father, you know. My dad fell ill, it was really serious, I was even failing at school because I… Something was wrong, even my little sister had also been failing at school because our dad, who we saw as being the big tough guy, the strong one and all that, he’s ill, and everything really complicated. And bit by bit, with mum being there, things got going again. And also, when you have problems, you’re not alone, like here. We had neighbours. Over here, you are there, and your neighbours, you don’t even know them! I’ve lived here for 15 years now, there are neighbours who we’ve never spoken to! Well no! Well, in my neighbourhood, you talk to everyone! And when you have a problem, everyone is there to help you, not financially, but with words. Education, everyone looks after all the children in the neighborhood. And someone more, who is older, who is my father’s age, I consider them as my father, and he too, he considers me as his child. And when I have a problem, he tells me: “Don’t do this, that, here, careful with this, with that.” So, everyone teaches everyone. So yeah, it’s this… I grew up in this environment where people genuinely love each other. People are supportive. Even here, ‘Equality, fraternity, solidarity’. But the solidarity, you don’t see it, eh? People don’t love each other. People don’t help each other. You’re left there, you have a problem, people just pass by, eh. Even the neighbor doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about you! So yeah, anyway.
And so, can you tell us why you had to leave your country?
Er, in the Congo, because I was a cartoonist, I did comics and press cartoons. It was at the time when, because before, it was run by Mobutu, it was a dictatorship. And then after that he made some er, changes. And with there being too many demonstrations er, opponents who were putting some pressure on him, he decided to authorise the multiparty system and also freedom of expression. But this freedom of expression was just words. In reality, there was no freedom. There were a number of newspapers which were created and everything. And we got into doing some press cartoons. Something we’d never done before then, because before, you couldn’t do it. And there we were launching press illustrations. Well, we had to go further with it, you know, press cartoons are something which has to hit home too. But with Mobutu, I had a few issues. And little by little, when he left, Kabila arrived. Er, and he too, a so-called democrat, freedom of speech… But in reality, that wasn’t it, these are people who didn’t tolerate being seen, being caricatured er, things a little more critical of what they do, and so yeah. And his son, when he was assassinated, it was his son who came in power, and it was worse then, because er, him, Kabila, then after that he died, he was assassinated, his son replaced him, it means monarchy you know. It becomes a monarchy, you know. And with all that, with the reactions we got, I had some trouble with it, a lot of trouble, a lot of trouble. And I decided to flee and I sought refuge here, in France. It wasn’t a destination that I chose, but I wanted to get out of the Congo at all costs, because in the Congo, I already had my children, all four children, and I wrote well and worked in a publishing house where I published er, every year four books and I was doing better, I was doing better. So there wasn’t really any reason I could leave the Congo to go somewhere else, you see! But seeing what was happening, because those people, they’re not presidents like the ones you get here, they’re military figures, even Mobutu was a soldier, and then Kabila too, with his rebellion and his son, he was a soldier. So er, they are people who don’t act like everyone else, you know. So yes, er, these are bloody regimes and so yeah. There was an opportunity that came up for me to come to France, that’s why I sought refuge in France.
And back there, when you started to have some issues and things, were you scared? How did you feel?
Yes, because when someone says assassination er, politicians, when you hear that, you think it’s bullshit but when you’re there, or you’re arrested, that’s when you feel the danger! That’s when you feel the danger. And when you find out that such and such a person has been kidnapped, you don’t see them around anymore and they’ve been assassinated, we’ve never even er, seen their body. So yeah, all that, it’s frightening. It’s all frightening.
And how did you feel in… Did you come by plane to France?
Yes, I took a plane but I was really careful, you know. It was, let’s say, the fact of leaving the Congo, I was lucky, you know. I was lucky, I was lucky, yeah.
And how did you feel on the plane?
On the plane? I said to myself… I was anxious. I was anxious because I was going to a country where I had already been to, I had already been to France you know, as a comic book author, so yeah. And I’d left again. I said: “Right, if I’m going to France, er…” I was so anxious about the place I was leaving and where I was going, because I have children. I had lots of questions about myself and because if you come here erm, it doesn’t just fall from the sky, you know, it’s complicated. It was worrying, worrying. I didn’t know, I didn’t know, I was lost and so was my wife, my ex-wife was lost! She says to me: “Okay but, what is going to become of us?” We don’t know the place we’re going to. So yeah. And I arrive here. Right at the beginning, alright, it looked like everything was going to be fine, but after two weeks, three weeks, you realise it’s something else. It’s something else. Filling out papers, queuing in the cold!
What struck you the most when you arrived?
Well, in the Congo, I’m Congolese. I arrive here, you’re neither, you’re not French and you’re not er, Congolese either. You no longer have an identity. They give you a token with a, yes, a stamp with an appointment. That, it was… ! So you’re undocumented. That, that’s very hard. For me who has a home country, who has, my parents, my grandparents own land in a beautiful country, the weather’s good, there’s greenery everywhere, there are rivers, there are fields, there are lots of things, and I arrive in a country where I’m told… You’re told this is not your home, but they give you a little bit of it and that, it’s quite brutal too, really brutal! You have, with a piece of paper like that, you put it in the, with the stamp from the prefecture. And then after that, you got to do the thing for the first receipt, something like that, with a yellow line like that, which means you don’t have the right to work. Ah it wasn’t easy, eh! With, I believe 160 euros in benefits, something like that. You have to buy tickets for, things er, like the Metro pass. And then for me who has children, well I say: “But, this is serious you know, it’s going to be tricky!” So yeah. And then er, you arrive here, people tell you hmm, those you chat with you know, tell you er: “Well, you can’t expect to get your papers today, eh! Er in my case, it’s been 10 years now that I’ve lived here, I don’t have my papers”. You make your acquaintances, and everything. “10 years ago, he’s got no papers! Ah!” But I tell myself, me, with my children, what will become of me? I have to wait 10 years! I started to, I sent in my file, and I said: “I won’t wait 10 years, I will not wait 10 years” and I started to write. I started to write. After three months, I began writing. Er, to the OFPRA Office for Refugees, I started to write recorded delivery letters saying you know, er, I’d like to be called in so that I can have an interview with regards to my situation. And everything I did in the Congo, with me being in the press, there were people who wrote in, even from Italy, there were colleagues who wrote in, I took all of these statements and I made copies, I sent them out. And after, I think, yeah, seven months, they called me for a meeting. And people say: “Well, you’ve been called in, you’ve done something wrong then! You know (laughs) er, out of 100 percent there are only three or four percent who have refugee status, you’ll get thrown out and then er, you really will be undocumented!” I say: OK, I’d like to know what’s going to happen to me, you know, because I’m not going to wait 10 years like you!”, and so I was called in. A woman interviewed me and then yeah, I spoke for an hour about what I’d been through. And I think two weeks later, I got a reply saying I had refugee status, they’d given it to me. So after eight months of arriving in France, I had my refugee status. So yeah. I’ve struggled, but it lasted for a short while. So yeah. That was my little journey.
Okay. And during these difficult months, what helped you keep going?
What helped me was my children and my wife. The whole time here in my head I had this little smile, the beautiful faces with their smiles, I had their photos all the time. And even here, with the little I have, the small amount of benefits we were given, I bought cards to talk with them about everything, almost every three days. Every three days, and sometimes, I would even do homework over the telephone (laughs), even during winter! When I chatted with my children and my ex-wife, ah, I felt great. That was the strength. That was the strength, thinking about the children. You think: “But if I let myself go, I let it bring me down and what will happen to my children? What will happen to my children?” So yeah. I care a lot about my children, yes, and I get a certain strength. Today, they’re adults and er, they’re balanced because they have benefitted from that love, I can feel they’re strong today. Yeah.
That’s very beautiful. And your work, were you able to do your work during those months or was it impossible?
During, well I couldn’t do this job because I wasn’t allowed to work, I wasn’t allowed to work. But people saw what I could do, what I did. I even went to “Secours Catholic”. I took part in group meetings, in things, and then there was an idea, hey, we’re going to do a little newspaper and everything. They did a small publication and I did the caricatures in the little paper. So yeah. And then afterwards, when I got my papers, I arrived on with the piece, the press cartoons too, in a magazine, in a satirical paper which was founded by another refugee, from Gabon. But in this paper, you could find some of the journalists from “Canard Enchaîné” from “Libération”, and who signed off under pseudonyms. Yeah, so it seemed like a paper like that, written by African people, but in real life they were young French people who work with us! So yeah. I did some out of date drawings for a long while. But there was always er, they say freedom of speech that I thought I would find here. Yes, but at the same time here er, you can’t say everything, you don’t have the right to say everything if you don’t have the right colour. You know. I showed my journalistic drawings one day in a City Hall, I was told er: “Pat, could you not take out two or three, that’s all, around there?” So yeah. And them, they can say what’s wrong with er, yeah! Because they’re French and everything, but others can’t say it! There’s a certain censorship, but when you mention it, they don’t believe you. My wife was shocked! She says: “Pat, they said that to you?” I said: “Well, yes! I’ve always told you that, well er. Yes, there are some who can say whatever they like and others who can’t”. So yeah! That’s the proof. I’m told to take out this drawing, they find it shocking. But we’re in a country with Human Rights where freedom of speech… No, nowhere has one-hundred percent freedom of speech. I have that conviction today because er, there are artists that can say whatever they like, but others can’t. So yeah. But when you tell them: “Ah no, it’s not like that, that’s just Africa”. No! It happens here, too! The corruption back in Africa, exists here as well! Here you see er, Sarkozy with all this, you know! And people always look in a condescending way on Africa as if it’s “a load of shit”, this sort of, I don’t like that. I don’t like it. For us, we’ve lived in Africa, we live here, we weigh it all up, we think that yes, there are dictatorships, you can get killed here and there, protect you and everything. But there are some small parts like in any regime, any human society, there are always weak spots, but people also have to accept that we have weak spots. Africa does not mean corruption. It’s here that there is real corruption! You can see it! At the moment, Sarkozy’s going to trial, the different matters, but that’s corruption! When I was drawing for the press, I found out loads of things about Françafrique, shocking things! Er, yeah. There are things going wrong in Africa, because it’s er, the settlers that messed things up until now, who continue to manipulate people, that’s why we suffer! That’s the thing, and the countries are no longer free! Now, the ardour I had in the Congo for exposing things, I have to expose them here too. Let Africans be free, let the African countries be economically free. So that people can live, they have the right to live in their homes. We have the right to live in our homes. And we have to be let free, to be left in peace! No, we support dictatorships, there I… We sought refuge here, but the dictators who slaughter people, and kill, and everything, when you find out that there’s the Françafrique that’s backed up by France, they’re backed up by Belgium and everything. Why is that? Why? So yeah.
And here you, have you suffered from discrimination? From racism?
Not really, not really. Yes there are some… Because also, I’m self-employed and I’ve never been an employee, but I think once, I was a victim of racism because I was checked up on by someone at the benefits office, constantly! And I felt he was picking on me because I was black, that’s all. I say: “You won’t find any of, there’s no fraud, there’s nothing funny in my papers. Why is it that every year, you come and check up on me? And yet, there are plenty of people you never check up on, why?” So yeah, he was picking on me for four years! But no! No, that’s clearly because I’m not French! Because I’m not French, that’s all, you’re picking on me because I’m not French. It’s important to say things, because you can’t just pick on someone like that. You try and dig, dig, dig, and dig, and in the end you find nothing. So yeah, it’s just to make me feel awkward, like maybe he didn’t like me living in this area, and it’s true, he picked on me all the time. I told him simply: “This is not okay! This is not okay”. So there are some little things like that but er, with me being self-employed, I also change er, editors from time to time. No, I’ve never experienced er, discrimination er, in the workplace, no, no. And that too, that can happen, but I’ve never been a victim of it because I work and I’m serious about my work. I’m demanding too. Even when I have a French person working alongside me, whatever we’re working on and I, for work things er, I don’t take things lightly. We have to work to a very high standard, a very, very, very high standard. I’m a workaholic, I’m a workaholic and I’m demanding. That’s how I do things. And I think that that makes… I don’t have many weaknesses in that respect. And that’s also why er, from time to time I have er, I get asked to do jobs occasionally in more involved things because people, editors, they see what I’ve already done. I do it well, I do it well. And I think that some people find out when working with me that… The bad part but they say Africans are lazy, which annoys me a lot. Erm, I find it to be quite the opposite, really. It’s clichés like that, that people have. And my um, activist behaviour I had in the Congo, I’ll never lose that. Over here, I don’t take any nonsense. I don’t take any nonsense. We have to be equal. We have to respect one another. We have to… It’s a battle that will never end. What I fought against in the Congo, I fight here in relation to racists, in relation to er, people who are er, who have a sort of, always maintaining a certain posture er, of superiority and that, that’s not right. It’s not right! I’m fighting against people like that. It’s the same thing in the Congo, we got made to shut up so we didn’t talk. Here too. And I cannot be shut up! I cannot be shut up. Even my children when they first arrived here er, the guidance counsellors and everything, were going to steer my children towards paths where they don’t do their studies in Paris, so they don’t do their studies in Paris but that they study in, elsewhere, either in a borough of Paris, but the neighbourhoods which are a bit, in the 20th, the 19th arrondissement, around there. I said no, I said no! So the activist side of me very much helped in terms of helping my children. I don’t take nonsense! You can’t manipulate me because you have a position. I respect you, but you mustn’t steer my children onto a path that isn’t the right one. You can’t! I can’t let that because I never felt weak in front of a human being. I respect them and I always maintain a position of equality in regards to another human being, always! And they must feel that we’re the same. I was born that way, I was educated that way and I’m here now. You can’t look down on me, that’s not ok. We can talk as equals and that’s the way it is. I don’t let myself get pushed down. I don’t let myself get pushed down, I’m an activist, I’ll never be pushed down! We have to teach the people who look down on others that that’s not life. We’re all equal. Like one day, when we die, we’ll find ourselves in a box that’s a metre by, one by two metres or something like that, in a coffin. Everyone, we’ll be in this kind of box and so no-one is above anyone else! That’s the activist side of things er, humanistic. We’re equal, we’re equal, you mustn’t diminish people, you mustn’t er, scare people. For me, my children, I educate them that way. You have to take responsibility for yourself as a human being, as an individual that exists. You exist, you’re not here to tag along with others, you have a space, and it’s not for others to give to you. It’s up to you to take up that space. You have to take up a space. You have to use it and not come in second, no. You are there, next to the others. Someone might make you believe that it’s, well yeah. No! You can’t believe that! Us here, we never see psychologists, that doesn’t exist at home. We have been educated within the family, we have all the strength within the family. If I’m having difficulties, I never go to those people. My children, they never went to see him because he, himself, has his own problems. He has his own problems, but he thinks he’s an expert on your life! They have no interest in your life. As for us, we are brought up in a family where people are concerned for you. You’re part of the family, they love you. When there’s advice or guidance required, they’ll guide you in the direction of that love. So yeah.
Thank you Pat, that’s very powerful. I just wanted to ask you, do you often think about the Congo?
Yes, I think about the Congo because I’m here in France, it’s been almost 20 years. Uh, I’m in a sort of an interim situation between the Congo and France. I’ve spent 20 years here, my children are here and I have a French wife, so I feel French. Er, I’m also Congolese because today I am also, my base is the Congo. Even… I did my studies over there. I haven’t done any studies here, I studied back there. The work that I do, I learned how to do it back there. Nowadays, even if I develop my work in 3D, it’s down to the experience I had in the Congo, my journey, wherever I went. And today I, you know, I think about the Congo being a certain strength but, I feel much more French.
Okay. And how do you feel when you think about the Congo?
In the Congo, it’s everything that is, is deep within, inside me. It’s the Congo, my childhood er, the life I led, the love for life and even the philosophy I live by today, it comes from the culture of my country. This strength to live, this strength to stand by what I do, we’re like that in my family. It’s the family’s upbringing so er, many Congolese are also like that.
So they’re good feelings?
The feelings are always good. We rely on family because often we say: “Ah, you have big families!” Yes, it’s… We have big families because everything gets done within the family. We don’t commit suicide where we live because our families are behind us. You’re supported by your family because when these people support you, they support you with love. When they give advice, it’s out of love because they know you’re one of them. It’s not a psychologist who has nothing to do with your family! What will happen to you in er, three years, four years, he doesn’t give a damn about it. He gets his fee for the appointment, that’s all it is! It’s something quite mechanical. So you have to be – I tell my children this – you have to be very careful with those people. There are, you have your aunts, you have your er, uncles, you have lots of people. We have about 10 members of the family who are adults, mature people. You confide in them. When you’re in trouble, those are the people to confide in. They’re going to give you the right steps to take because they love you, they care about your future. These are the real people you should be confiding in. We are lucky with this, to have people who come from these kinds of families. They’re not families where you’re told: “Ah well, there they are, they’re going to take advantage of you”, no! They don’t take advantage of you. It’s just they’re there because you have the same roots, you have something in common, so yeah, they support you. They support you. That’s what I have inherited from the Congo. Maybe with my children, I don’t think my children will marry Congolese partners. That’ll go one day if they are with someone French or whatever, other nationalities. It’s their choice. We don’t impose anything on anyone in that way. They’ll live their lives the way they see fit. But as for me, I give them the same thing I had in the Congo, so yeah, and it’s their decision with their partners how it will be after that. It won’t be my problem anymore. It won’t be my problem anymore.
Thank you. Thank you very much, Pat. I wanted to ask you, is there a drawing in particular or a comic that stands out for you, that you’ve drawn or read?
For me er, I’d say a comic I’ve drawn two years ago now. It’s “Urgence Niveau 3”. It’s a comic financed and published by the er, World food programme (Programme alimentaire mondial). And this comic talks about refugee camps. I’ve never been in a refugee camp myself, but I have seen myself in some characters’ profiles who evolve in this comic book, so it’s a comic book that resonates with me a lot. It’s a comic book that’s not far from my own life, it’s a comic book where, when I’m in Paris, I’ve been to Emmaüs, I went to er, “Catholic Secours”, “France, land of asylum” (France Terre d’Asile), the people I came across… That’s the other thing, this richness of France that I appreciate. I came across several nationalities, who aren’t French, who are Turkish, who come from all around. It’s that richness that always appealed to me. And in this particular comic, it talks about refugees in Northern Iraq, in Southern Sudan and in Tchad. Yeah. It’s a comic that I really, I’d say it’s my life’s work, that has its purpose because it talks about humanity, truly, humanity’s problems. And I love this comic, “Urgence Niveau 3”.
Okay, thank you very much, Pat.
One last question, it’s about dreams. I wanted to ask you, what were your dreams before you had to leave your country? And if you could reply with a quote: “Before I had to leave my country…”
Er, I’d say, I’d go a little further. I’ve always dreamt of doing er, film eh, the cinema, being free to express myself through film. And now, today er, it’s also thanks to France eh, that I learnt um, all of these software programmes because there is this guarantee of non-stop electricity. And then also erm, having the possibility to buy software programmes, things like that because I live in France. If I were in the Congo, maybe I wouldn’t have these sorts of possibilities. But there erm, I am at a sort of symbiosis in my life where drawing and cinema mixed together, and that’s what I do now. That was my dream. And to raise my children in a very good environment. Now, all of my children have gone into higher education and soon they’re going, some are already engineers, already. And so that’s it, so that was my dream. My dream, I’d say, is not in one word, it’s a sort of multitude of things that make that… So yeah. You always have dreams that well, perhaps sometimes, you don’t reach. But I think I have the basics, for now.
Okay. Thank you very much, Pat.
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.