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Baldé, a Senegalese migrant, opens a restaurant in Agadez

We’re in Agadez’s main square. A young, well-dressed man welcomes us. His name is Baldé Chérif Ousmane and he’s a 30-year-old man from Senegal who currently lives in Agadez, Niger. 

Having arrived in the city as a migrant in transit, Baldé decided a few months ago to put an end to his attempt to reach Europe. Instead, he decided to stay in Agadez to fulfil his lifelong dream of owning a restaurant. 

“I left Senegal in 2007. I went to Nouadhibou in Mauritania to go to Spain,” said Baldé. But the crossing wasn’t easy: “We made several attempts. The first time, we went in a dugout boat led by a Ghanaian captain.”

This failed attempt to reach Spain took almost two weeks and many people died. Baldé and the other migrants returned to Nouadhibou to plan another trip which they embarked on a week later. This time, they were more successful: “We were lucky enough to get to Spain, but we were sent back.”

Afterwards, he decided to go to Ivory Coast and then to Benin where he stayed for a while. He told us: “From there I continued to Agadez in Niger, then to Libya where unfortunately I was arrested and thrown in jail for 3 months. When I got out of prison, I tried again to travel to Italy but I was sent back before reaching Italy.”

After a final attempt to reach Spain via Algeria and then Morocco, Baldé was sent back to Agadez once more. It was then when his plans changed: “I then decided not to try the adventure anymore and to stay in Agadez to work.” 

Now, he is chasing a new dream. “Several weeks ago, I started a big restaurant called ‘Restaurant de migrants’ (Migrant Restaurant),” he says. “We serve food to the people of Agadez but also to the migrants who we encourage to stay in Africa and show solidarity,” he explains.

“I feed ten migrants a week. The restaurant is starting to work and I hope it will grow so that I can employ Africans. Young Africans need to tell themselves that there is potential at home! We can develop if we are united,” he added.

Proud to introduce “Tchiebou djeun” (Senegal’s national dish) to local customers in Agadez, Baldé looks up to the sky and exclaims: “I am the ambassador of Senegalese cuisine in Agadez”. 

TMP – 24/01/2020

Photo credit: TMP

Photo caption: Baldé in front of his restaurant