Djibel, from internal to international migration
This migrant story is included in Dia, Chapter 22 of the volume
Djibel has four sisters and two brothers, he was born in 1953. He is retired, and currently divides his time between France and Senegal. He has an apartment in a public housing unit in a Paris banlieue, two houses on the outskirts of Dakar – one of which he rents out – and a third house in the village of his birth. In the late 1970s, both his parents were old and his sisters were still minors, living at home. With his younger brother, he tried to make a go of farming, but they were unable to hire enough men to work the family field and did not have the capital to buy the agricultural implements needed to increase their yields, at a time when the river failed to flood, leading to water shortages. With the agreement of his family, Djibel sold two sheep from what little remained of the family herd and went to Dakar. He was taken in by a paternal uncle, a cook in a restaurant of the Senegalese administration. He said of this time:
"The 1970s were very difficult years. It was hard to find food. People wore the same clothes for several days, even more than a week. We rarely ate more than once a day. It was very hot in our homes, but even hotter outside. It was unbearable; I had to talk to the family. I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to leave. Papa, Maman and the whole family prayed for me. I left."
Djibel worked as a street vendor in Dakar before deciding to leave for France, having realized that his earnings would not allow him to build himself a house, provide for his family back in the village and meet his basic needs. He arrived in Yvelines, a department near Paris, in 1983. A short time later, he found a job in a car factory, guided by members of his village, who had travelled to France before him. He continued to provide for his family back in the village; he also took advantage of his stay in France to buy the properties mentioned above. He is very proud of what he has accomplished. While he is very critical of some aspects of migration, he is overall satisfied with what it has brought him at the end of his working life:
"I had a house built in the village, I have two here near Dakar. I helped all my sisters until they got married. I no longer had to support them, because they married people from the village living here in France. Three of them live in Paris with their children. The fourth is married to a cousin, a wealthy businessman, who emigrated to Gabon. He takes good care of her, so no worries. If I hadn’t left, maybe things wouldn’t have turned out this way."
Consequently, it was in reaction to a situation spawned by agricultural crises that Djibel, with his family’s agreement, gradually became part of an emigration strategy that took him from Dakar to the Paris region and that led him to take charge of his family and to make investments that gave him financial and material security today, as a retiree in France and Senegal.