20th anniversary of Yaguine and Fodé death

It was Tuesday, July 30, 1999. Yaguine, 14, and Fodé, 15, are missing. No one knows where they are. Yaguine’s grandmother’s house? To a friend of Fodé?
Yaguine’s father finds a letter in his son’s room: “Dad, don’t worry. I’m going to my mom’s house in Paris…”. Then, he finds the draft of the letter that will be found on August 2 on the bodies of the two young boys found cold dead in the landing gear of a Sabena plane. This letter was addressed to the “members and leaders of Europe”, shouting for “help” and imploring them to “make a great effective organization for Africa to enable us to progress”.

>> Read the message of Yaguine and Fodé

In Guinea, various events were organized

> Contemplation on the graves of Yaguine & Fodé

Letter read by a member of Amitié Sans Frontières, a delegation from Belgium:
“Dear Yaguine, dear Fodé, we are overwhelmed by everything we see here, and we understand more than ever why you left. We have seen that your letter and message are still relevant, that it is known all over the world. You are not dead. You live in hearts and thoughts here…
Yaguine and Fodé, we went to your school. And that’s where we found your father, Yaguine, and your mother and your brother Sekou, Fodé. It was a very emotional moment. There were more than 300 students in your school. These young people have understood your message and they will not give up.
They are concerned that so many young people want to go to Europe and risk the same fate as you. They know that so many young people have died in the sea, because everywhere the borders of Europe are closing…
They have expressed their claims, their demands. They want to fight for jobs, for schools, for health centres. They know that the country is rich in raw materials, such as bauxite, gold, but that this wealth is not distributed. It is confiscated by a tiny minority and does not benefit the Guinean people.
They criticize the blatant lack of justice and good governance. And they want to change that.
This is also what we felt during our trip to Frija and Boké, to the mines. The young people move, revolt.
20 years after your sacrifice, it has become our struggle.
Tonight, we leave your country shaken, but with hope. The hope that your letter sowed. We promise you that we will continue to support and welcome refugees in our country in a humane way, to fight racism in our country, to fight against the exploitation of Africa, to unite to build another system, another world, just.
It is your struggle, it is the struggle of today’s youth. 20 years after your sacrifice, it has become our struggle.”

> A conference at Yaguine et Fodé College in Conakry
“Youth and the Danger of Illegal Immigration”
This conference was facilitated in tandem by an executive from the Ministry of Youth and Youth Employment and a member of Amitié Sans Frontières.

> A conference at the conference room of the Matoto City Hall
“Conditions for women victims of illegal immigration”
This conference was also led by a member of Amitié Sans Frontières and co-facilitated by an executive from the Ministry of Social Action and Promotion of Women and Children.

These two conferences were marked by the performance by the Zôyâ theatre troupe of the play “La lettre éclaire de Yaguine et Fodé”, an adaptation of three well-known plays: Akim Bah’s “L’avion va bientôt décoller”, Faustin Keoua Leturmy’s “Passe, pas l’homme” and Sonia Ristic’s “Migrants”. The troupe gave a brilliant performance that was highly appreciated by the audience present. Women who had lost their children in the journeys of illegal immigration were all in tears. They recognized their children in the acting of the actors.

In Belgium, events also took place

Theme of the conference:
“Today, nothing has changed”.
Twenty years later, the IDAY network of associations launched in response to this tragedy, as well as Amitiés sans frontières, the Council of African Communities in Europe and Belgium (CCAEB) and the Message of Yaguine & Fodé Fund with the King Baudouin Foundation, wanted to recall the suffering and hopes of these two adolescents in search of a better life. “Today, nothing has changed. The situation has even worsened. The Mediterranean has become a cemetery for those fleeing their country. But we will continue to demonstrate to stop fortress Europe and stop the criminalization of migrants and those who help them,” said Hélène Madinda, CCAEB president, before reading Yaguine and Fodé’s letter.

The audience then listened to Joseph Mbéka and his choir perform “Les ailes brisées”, a song he composed in memory of those whose stories had moved the world.

Riet Dhont of Amitiés sans frontières continued with the story of his stay in Guinea a few days ago, with the families of the two victims and especially in the school that now bears their names. Mrs. Riet Dhont is the woman who prevented the bodies of Yaguine & Fodé from being buried surreptitiously in Belgium on August 2, 1999, who found the message, warned Yaguine’s mother who lived in Paris, and warned the Consul of Guinea who then made a noticeable statement on the radio (repeated in an RTBF broadcast on August 1, 2019).

“Migration is inherent to humanity”
The honorary president of IDAY-International and co-founder of the Yaguine & Fodé Message Fund was moved by the relevance of the letter left by Yaguine and Fodé. “This message must continue to live because it challenges us in relation to two indifferences,” says Jean-Jacques Schul, who underlines our indifference towards these young people who risk their lives to migrate. “Migration is inherent to humanity. In Europe, we are particularly responsible because we have no excuse for not knowing. In addition, we owe a huge debt to Africa, our former colonies. Then there is our indifference to our development cooperation policies. For 50 years, we have been giving aid and the gap with our countries has not narrowed. To be effective, aid must bring civil society closer to its governments and private sector. However, most European countries continue to follow a neo-colonial policy, by financing their companies and NGOs,” deplored Mr Schul.

Asked to close the commemoration, an official of the Embassy of Guinea thanked the organizers and called on both Europe and African countries to “take responsibility” for the dramatic history of Yaguine and Fodé.

A football match in collaboration with a group of the Guinean diaspora from Place Bara in Brussels was also organised in memory of the 2 young people.

The media responded very positively to the solicitations. On August 1, RTBF broadcast twice on the scope of Yaguine & Fodé’s message and the issue of African emigration. The announcement of the August 2 activities was also broadcasted during the news of the main radio station. RTL and RTBF television reported the main interventions of the conference during the evening news. The press also reported the event.

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