Narcisse Dovenon tells the story of his journey from Africa to Europe as an educated immigrant. To dispel clichés, but also for a good cause.
We met a minor celebrity at the Centre de documentation des migrations (CDMH) at Dudelange-Usines station. Among Beninese expatriates, Narcisse Dovenon uses social media to share news from his home country and keep a close-knit community alive. When he's not posting videos on TikTok: Narcisse is an archivist and librarian at the CDMH. Here, he welcomes us on a rainy summer afternoon on the eve of a literary evening to promote his book for charity.
How did this man from Benin come to Luxembourg? Since the so-perceived refugee crisis, Narcisse has regularly had to correct strangers who ask him if the Mediterranean crossing wasn't too dangerous: "It's really a cliché about Africans coming to Europe without papers and crossing the sea in atrocious conditions. That's not my story at all, and that's why I thought it would be interesting to tell it, " he says. What he has in common with all the other immigrants in Europe and Luxembourg is the desire to leave his country of origin. One of five siblings, Narcisse grew up in a Beninese family that was neither poor nor rich. His elder brother went to study in Germany, and he soon dreamt of following in his footsteps. Studying abroad is seen as very prestigious for African families: "It's a guarantee of success for my family. Especially as I took German as my first language at lycée", as if to prepare for the departure. According to Narcisse Dovenon, what's special about Beninese people is that they don't embark on their European adventure without a safety net: "We're not great adventurers, unlike other African countries. Beninese travel very little, and when they emigrate it's because they have someone there, a family member or an acquaintance. A Beninese will never go somewhere where he or she doesn't know anyone."
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