The month of July is one of the best periods of the year if not the best. This is the month in which I was born about thirty seven years ago, but more than that, it is the period when the funny alchemy –sun, holidays, and sales- occurs in the hexagon. Moreover, “Paris Plage” gives every Parisian the opportunity to go at sea side while remaining in the capital. Warm atmosphere makes it easy to chat spontaneously to the stranger walking or seating next to you. And if that person happens to be of the opposite sex, in most cases, the funny and magic alchemy makes it the opportunity to start a new love affair. Every event or gathering is another opportunity to make new encounters. According to Laurence Ferrarie, the most appreciated news presenter of the moment, there are no less than “700 festivals” taking place in France every year during the only month of July.
If back in old times festivals were just special occasions especially in memory of religious events, marked by public enjoyment, religious ceremony, etc..; there is no doubt today that most festivals taking place in Paris and its suburbs during the month of July have more social and political objectives. Festivals are nowadays more regarded as means to bridge the gaps linked to social issues in specific areas. In other words the number of festivals in big cities such as Paris often translates the different concerns existing in the city.
If in theory every one or any organization can easily throw a festival; technically, it often requires lots of partnerships, connections and organization. A festival in Paris generally lasts a couple of days if not more. Its success can be evaluated through the number of people taking the time to come out and show their face on the occasion. It is thus that the Young Talents’ festival which took place in the nineteenth district of Paris in early July this year was considered a real success by most people living in the “twenty minus one” . I personally attended two events during the festival and I must admit that each time the performance was huge. The Stylist Show on July 10 was pure display of creativity and beauty; while the Music Show on July 12 was a combination of energy and poetry. The French rap singer Oxmo Puccino delighted the public with his best hits. For the first edition of the Young Talents’ Festival, Adji Ahoudjan, the Mayor assistant in youth affairs in the nineteenth district of Paris, was able to use all the potentialities of the district. He wittily gathered groups of youngsters who had been pledging war to one another for more than a decade. Communication and security was assured by big brothers of different parts of the district; most of whom are quite respected for the work they do within their community. During the festival any boy or girl with a skill of
art had the opportunity to show off and be known for something different that was not linked to violence, crime, laziness or immaturity as the main media often seem to delight in depicting young people from this district.
Adji Ahoudjan’s success in organizing a festival that ended without any incident is to be put into the account of his past experience as a social worker within the B.G.A organization . Understanding the youth of the district and being able to speak with them in a language that showed respect and complete understanding of their values, wishes, expectations and difficulties was without doubt his main asset. Unlike most criminal acts occurring in the nineteenth
district of Paris, the success of the Young Talents’ Festival was of course not mentioned in the mass media. There is no doubt however that such initiative partly contributes into reestablishing self confidence among people living in the district; but more than that, it shows and displays a positive picture of the district that once again is scarcely related.
By Dr. Moustafa Traore.