When it comes to explain delinquency
in the deprived areas of Paris the following argument is often to be heard: “Youngsters of immigrant descents do not have in France any successful role model, except from that of the football players or rap singers”. It is true that in a country where it has become a custom from the mass media to denigrate and negatively depict ethnic minorities, in general models for a certain category of the population are scarce. Besides, the case of Karim Benzema who was recently involved in the Zahia scandal also proves that football players just like rap singers are sometimes far from being good examples for the younger generations. This week I decided to focus on people I think could be presented as models for the youth in the nineteenth district of Paris.
Among all the people I know in the nineteenth district of Paris Sadia Diawara is without doubt one of the best models for the younger generation. I first heard about Sadia Diawara some five years ago. At the time I was travelling a lot between the U.K and the nineteenth district of Paris. Sadia Diawara was the founder of the Afternoons of the Memory at Mama Africa restaurant; a meeting that took place once a month, on Sundays, and where discussions and tales about Africa were told in a convivial atmosphere.
Today, once again the name of the 31 year old director and entrepreneur is in everybody’s mouth. Three years ago, Sadia Diawara who has “more than a wallet in his pocket”, launched a project that consists in traveling from the nineteenth district of Paris to Mali; crossing by car countries such as Spain and Mauritania. The initiative is based on mutual solidarity between the French people taking part in the project and the different people encountered on the way to Mali. Equipment in exchange for knowledge is the key element of the initiative. The Africans teach the French how to plant trees in the region and the French provide them with the necessary equipment. During the trip, cultural exchanges take place not only with the villagers but also between the
travelling crew. The first objective of the initiative is to fight all united against desertification no matter the differences or the continent we live in. Through the ecosystem Global Warming affects all of us without distinction.
From the two previous expeditions Sadia Diawara remembers the good memories. “I will never forget the first time we arrived in the village my parents had left some thirty years ago to come here and make a living”, he once told me before adding. “The planting of the first trees is an experience no one can forget”… “No matter how many trees you’ve planted, each new planted tree gives you the same sensation and feeling of pride”.
Road Tree’P is an initiative coming from the heart asking no money or support from any government or organisation. “All we need is people coming and taking part in the trip” Sadia says. He dreams of the day when individuals take the initiative to go on their own and plant trees in order to fight against deforestation and desertification. In every culture and religion the planting
of a tree has huge signification. When he grows older Sadia Diawara would like to be able to say to his grandsons: “You see this forest over there I am somehow at the origin of it” … “This is my legacy to you”. And, this wish of his is, indeed, what makes him great and a model for the younger generations.