Jamma Rek!

Version 2As the 2013 door is gently closing and the 2014 window is impatiently waiting to be opened, I wish you all a peaceful and safe Christmas season. A Christmas in Dakar is like a Melbourne Christmas… Despite the freshness of the African winter, the sun is still high and the air is warm and gentle. The celebrations will take place outside, near a beach and under the palm trees. Tolerance and peace will be two pillars of the notorious Senegalese wisdom.

2013 will have been a year of changes and renewal for myself and for my family. I suppose moving again to Africa is allowing me to discover and embrace aspects of my life that I have neglected for many years. So far Africa gave me more than I have offered to it. I hope 2014 will provide me the opportunities to give back to a country and region which I already love so much.

Suspended Words has been one of my many joys of 2013 and I thank you for following and supporting my attempt to find the right words and capture honest photographies. A comment and a “like” have so much impact for me. I have always need encouragements and honest feedback to allow me to grow in my life. I sincerely thank you for nurturing my new passion.

Have a wonderful new year, full of hope, love, good health and successes.

Jamma Rek means Peace only in Wolof

My daughters

I have three daughters. I call them the girls or sometimes “les filles”. They live far away from me in another part of the world.

Love has no boundaries – it is my desperate way to convincingly build my defence mechanism, the persuasion that I am right to live away from them. I miss their smiles, their giggles and open mockery of my accent. I miss the few cuddles that they still allow themselves to give, I miss the “whatever” and pre-teen attitudes. I miss the weird music, the expressions and other oddities of their young lives.

My daughters, forgive me for my decision. It was not to punish you but just my way to be a source of inspiration and to provide you with an open window to the world.
For you, I have much love, different perspectives and experiences to offer. I hope that you are still seeing me as the supportive and caring line coach of your lives.

I love you, every day,

I love you for what you are bringing to the world today,

I love you for what you are destined to become in the future.

Today, we are all refugees.

I came to Australia 15 years ago. I arrived at the door of this country under a business visa with money and professional sponsorship.

Several years later, when I decided to emigrate here, I just had to sign a few papers, proof few facts about my lifestyle and to go through a basic health check. I remember the comment of a nurse during the check up: “we need more people like you instead of…you know.”

Oh yes… I know too well, that under Australian perception and prejudice, I was different: a French guy with education and more money than others.

Today, I am an Australian by choice and love. Today, my government took an abject decision towards refugees.

It is not about taking away the right to settle to Australia. It is about taking away the hope, the security and the willingness to contribute with dignity to our beautiful land.

Today, we have closed our door to refugees and on our humanity.

The kiss

I see them almost everyday, sitting together under the bus stop shelter. The world is driving around them but they ignore it while holding hands and smiling at the happiness that they have created for themselves. Several times, I saw them kissing passionately as the bus that will take her away arrives. He is waving at her as she is leaving him for the day. Distance is only a close up that has been pushed apart.

36159 sunrises

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I have just discovered with horror that I have given to my 99 years old grand-mother an extra year. I have claimed that she will be a century old this year. My dad kindly reminded me that she was only born in 1914.

She will have seen 36159 sunrises in her life. Some more beautiful than others. She was born at the dawn of a World war in a region of France that has always been a source of distrust, cultural and geographical ambivalence between France and Germany. I try to imagine what it could have been to start your life in the heart of this heinous and violent maelstrom that men have created for themselves.
As she reached her twenties, she found herself at the dawn of another war. Being 20 years old should be the time for the discovery of love and the confirmation of your potential and contribution to yourself and to others. The youth of Europe was already on the edge of a mortal sacrifice. Like her before, her children were raised during wartime or just after it. Despite the circumstances, she managed to live a life and to provide for her children.

I have learned a lot from my grandmother. She introduced me to History, Patrimonies, Art and the importance of a beautiful handwriting… I remember escorting her during my university years to beautiful Parisian events for which she used to travel from her loving city of Metz. We always met at her tiny but still elegant hotel near la gare de l’Est. She was holding my arm as we walked through Paris, talking and sharing our lives. She used to compliment me all the time. I was her grandson with “the tall body attracted by the moon” and often, felt that I was her favourite grand-child.
She made me feel important and valued but always challenged my choices, making sure that I had the right amount of faith and thinking to realise them. I am a child of the sixties. I remember the first time my parents purchased a television in colour and had their first telephone installed. Today, I carry a smart phone, use a tablet and have access to any information I want via the web. I can influence, share my opinion and have my personal data becoming marketing data. I feel more empowered but more vulnerable too. The world is changing so much, so fast that I cannot imagine how I will see it when I will experience my 36159th sunrise. I am just praying that we will become wiser and at peace.