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New Alliance Française boss takes his seat

New Alliance Française boss takes his seat

Staff Writer IMAN MANI had the opportunity of meeting him at his office during the week for a short conversation. Following are extracts of the discussion:

QUESTION: When exactly did you arrive in Tanzania?
ANSWER: I arrived in Tanzania on Saturday, February 4 and started working the following Monday morning.

Q: Where were you coming from? A: I was coming from Lyon City, although I’m originally from Roanne Town, which is 70.8 kilometres from there. Lyon is a big city where you can find many cultural events and many things. I was promoting a book I had written and teaching French there. Prior to this I had spent almost two years in Madagascar as the director of an Alliance Française branch there.

Q: What were the credits that enabled you to be selected as director here?

A: It’s a mixture of everything. I studied business up to master’s level and travelled a lot in countries that is not always easy for someone from Europe to stay in. My love and knowledge of culture and music, especially African music also gave me some credits. My experience around the world, including the education programme I was running and my book are proof that I’m a hard worker. You have to work hard to write a book. All of this put together, with my almost two years in Madagascar running an Alliance Française branch there are also factors.

Q: How do you feel about being here in Dar es Salaam?

A: I feel happy because I’m alive when I’m moving. I feel better in Africa than when I’m in France in certain ways because of the people and the life they are living in the streets. It is no longer like this in France. People are living apart in flats or houses. I feel good here but I need time to settle in a new home and to understand things here. I left family and friends behind at home, which has left a gap, which I’m not used to. As the director of this centre I have many things that I have to do.

In Madagascar the embassy was far away from where I was so I did not have to go there very often but here it’s different. I have to work closer with the cultural department of our embassy, which is also new for me, who is still young and not so used to moving in such official circles. All of this makes here a bigger challenge than it was in Madagascar.

I want to learn from everyone. This is what I said to all members of staff when we went out to have a meal together on my first Friday here.

Q: Is it possible for you to talk a little about what you would like to do during your time here?

A: I would like to do more and more and put all the energy we can in what we’re doing because we have a very good team here. We have to improve the quality of our education system here at the centre. We also need to put our energy towards developing the cultural side of Alliance Française.

We’ll do more and more even though we do not have a lot of money; we are not rich at all. We will try to find sponsors because we need sponsors. We provide French classes, which we want to keep at a low affordable price within the range of all the people. Another thing that is important is to keep the good image we have. We are an open space, where the two doors are opened to all. Everybody can come to Alliance Française. This is your Alliance Française and not mine.

I came two weeks ago and will be leaving in two, three or four year’s time. The people will stay here and Alliance Française will stay here also. Most of our events are free so it’s not about making money. So the image is also important. This is an open space for everybody, including the artists.

There are many artists everywhere in the world, especially here in Africa. Many people are playing music for example but they don’t know how to progress properly. We are here to help them. It is part of our mission to help the young and to promote artists.

Q: When you say you’re looking for sponsors, what kind of people are you interested in?

A: All the doors are opened to them also, but I want to work with people who are interested in culture. I don’t want just the money; they have to believe in our project. We are here for the people. I managed to find many sponsors in Madagascar. They were interested in our objectives and agreed to help because they saw it was for their people right there. So we’ll knock some doors and try to find those people here who are interested in what we’re doing. It’s not an easy job but we’ll try our best and succeed.

Q: Before coming here, how exposed were you to Tanzanian culture?

A: To be honest, before coming here I knew almost nothing, especially concerning Tanzanian culture. I know more about West African music and other aspects of culture there because people from there are more famous in France. I know the music of Madagascar because I spent almost two years there.

But when I arrived there I knew almost nothing about their music. You know, I’m always listening and moving around a lot so I tend to discover quickly the main artists in a place where I am. I walk around a lot and do not stay inside a house or an office too much. That way I get to know what is what in a place.

Last Saturday I was in a place where various artists were playing, so I could get their contact. I even went to the Goethe Institut to see a very good Jazz band. This is all part of my work. Now one of the first things I have to do is to learn a little Swahili so that I can talk to the artists a little. They are always around here and I have to continue reading and listening to things concerning artists here. That’s how I am going to get to know what is here and that is the reason why I’m here, so I’m ready to take on the challenge.

FROM TABORA WITH LOVE: If it was possible, I would open a school for thieves

DEAR nephew Milambo Greetings from Dar es Salaam ...

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Author: Staff Writer IMAN MANI

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