She lives in the flat Belgian country for 35 years. The spotlight is focused today on another representative of the diversity of African diversity present in Belgium. Fatoumata Fathy Sidibé, women with several caps is what we could call a woman of character. And the character, when one is a woman, moreover engaged in politics in a society where sexism persists, it is necessary to have and especially to reveal it. She does not miss it. On the contrary.
From June 2009 to June 2014, she sat as a member of the Brussels Regional Parliament for the political group Fédéralistes Démocrates Francophones (FDF became DéFI)). She was President of the Social Affairs Commission in the French-speaking Parliament of Brussels and President of the FDF group in the French-speaking Parliament of Brussels. Following the regional elections of May 25, 2014, she again sits as Member of Parliament for the 2014-2019 legislature. She is also an author and painter.
Interview with a lady committed to multiple paths, defining herself as a plural woman.
Given the news of recent months related to the influx of migration to Europe, a reaction?
We are really faced with a situation that questions us about how Europe organizes and manages the reception of refugees. A binding distribution of political refugee candidates between Member States is needed. In my group, we have always advocated compulsory distribution of refugees in all municipalities. More and more amalgams are unfortunately made on this issue. If Europe is hosting a large influx of refugees, it is worth remembering that, according to the UNHCR, in 2014, 86% of the world’s refugees are in developing countries! We must stop playing on fears and amalgam. There are many reasons for leaving one’s country, many fleeing war or persecution. If we welcome these newcomers with dignity and give them opportunities to integrate into the economic and social life, they will not be a problem but a solution. We must acknowledge the solidarity of a large number of citizens who have multiplied initiatives in favor of asylum seekers.
What does it take for African communities in Belgium to defend themselves against prejudices?
The first thing to do is to organize around what unites us, that is, citizenship. However, the organizational deficit has been the thorn in the foot of the African community for several decades. We have no strong and strong lobby to defend common interests. There are not enough forces converging on each other. The cleavage is such that before thinking of defending ourselves, we must first think of decompartmentalizing the different communities. Politicians use this cleavage and use it to divide us even further to better rule. Extremists add their layer by dividing societies, creating organized chaos. Thus communities and not citizens are gradually being created. At the political level, I am the only sub-Saharan woman in the Brussels Regional Parliament.
Can the voluntary sector not serve as a shield?
It would still be necessary for the associations to all speak with the same voice. Unfortunately this sector is also politicized. The trap of all these organisms? Subsidies are necessary but insufficient and you have to share the cake! It is necessary to recognize the work, often voluntary, carried out by the associative world which palliates the failures of certain integration policies.
You have a rich personal journey …
I entered politics 6 years ago. It was not me who went to politics but the politics that came to me. We came to get me. I took a year and a half to accept. It is thanks to a rich personal journey that I carried out before upstream who took me there. Graduate in social communication and journalism, I worked in the field of communication, publishing, public relations and social. As a freelance journalist, I have collaborated with many Belgian and foreign magazines. I was responsible for projects at the Brussels Regional Center for Free Examination where, in addition to organizing conferences and conferences, I conducted studies and publications on the issue of women from immigrant backgrounds. I also collaborated on collective works on societal issues. I am co-founder of the Belgian Committee Ni Putes Ni Soumises which I chaired until February 2009. In this context, I launched and coordinated the publication of the Belgian Guide of Respect, a practical tool to “build living together girls and boys, equal in rights and duties “and the Respect Kit, a tool for educational animation for educational and associative structures.
Women raped in DR. Congo. Since 2013 you are president of the association of Women FDF (DéFI). As a woman, what do you think of the media’s attitude to this injustice?
Deafening silence. Thanks to Dr. Mukwege, doctor-director of the Panzi Hospital in South Kivu, the silence was somewhat broken. It challenges world leaders and shakes consciences to break the deafening silence of the international community and call for an end to the nameless atrocities committed in DR Congo. But nothing really moves. We kill Africa, we kill Africa, And African leaders are silent in all languages. They are in the front row to pay tribute to the dead on other skies but voiceless when it comes to mobilize for the continent. It’s first up to our leaders to get up. If we know how to mourn the deaths of others, we also need the whole world to make a minute of silence for these horrors. It is not a minute of silence that is needed but a giant clamor, a concert of revolt: for all women raped, abducted, mutilated, tortured, illegal emigration, shipwrecks of migrants, dramas from immigration, to the wars that tear the continent apart. As for the media, they participate in a climate of selective indignation.
You are part of many success stories for the young African diaspora …
Without a doubt. Me, I made a long way my path strewn with pitfalls. I worked in different sectors: private, associative, activist. I am an author, painter. All this background is now part of me, the plural woman that I am today. Luck was given to me at one point, and I knew how to catch it. You speak of success story. The African diaspora in Belgium has many examples of success in all areas: entrepreneurship technological and scientific innovation, education, medical, etc. There are thousands of other examples of African success stories that are not always highlighted. It must be made visible to inspire youth. And then, there is a big difference between being successful in life and making a living.
To finish … CHALLENGE, new name of your FDF party
November 13, 2015 marks the date of the official party name change. From now on, we do not call DéFI meaning “Independent Federal Democrat”. It was time to take on a new challenge, to redeploy. The essential and key word is “independent”. Why independent? We are independent of traditional structures and do not place ourselves in the left-right divide. Since our divorce from the Reformation Movement, we have affirmed, beyond the community and institutional questions, our specificities at the socio-economic level. We are social liberals who defend social justice, entrepreneurship, secularism of the state.
Internet link to learn more about his career, his biography, his works and extrapolitical activities: