Photo: Kimani DeShields-Williams
THE LAND OF THE TOUMAI, THE CRADLE OF HUMANITY
Madam Madeline Alingue is the current Minister of Touristic Development, Culture and Arts, a dynamic woman who has traveled the world and established a research center, but along the way always kept one thing; the love for her country. Daughter of a former Ambassador, the idea of traveling was not something new, which may explain her love for cultures.
When she was 6-years old, her family crossed the Atlantic Ocean to live in the United States and 4 years later they moved to France. Although she easily integrated into the French lifestyle, and successfully completed her degree in Linguistics, she never felt that the country was where she would settle.
After applying and receiving a scholarship to study in China, she experienced as she describes a “rupture” upon discovering a love for China. Although traveling required her to leave the life she knew, she wanted to discover the world. In China, she found their lifestyle ironically similar to the African culture, and she took every opportunity to discover other countries including Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and others. In the mid-1990s, she returned to Chad in hopes of finding employment. Yet, that plan did not work out and she decided to join her family in France. However, life pushed her to take a different turn, this time to Latin America; Bogota, Colombia with her husband, where she became a mother and created her own path.
Yearning to improve her Spanish, she quickly enrolled and started to study International Relations. However, there was a major gap, as there were no courses related to her own continent of Africa; this is where the opportunity presented itself and she did not shy away. With just a few students interested in listening to her teachings about Africa, she became a professor, creating her own curriculum and eventually a research program. After 23 years of living, learning and breaking barriers in Latin America, she returned to Chad during the 2011 Libyan crisis, where she started working with IOM, aiding the return of Chadian migrants stranded in Libya. Yet, it did not take long for her to start climbing the political ladder to the point she was nominated as a representative of the permanent mission of Chad for the United Nations Security Council, the only woman on a team of 12. “ We worked 24 hours, 7 days a week”, she expressed reflecting on her role as the Political Coordinator for 2 years.
A career that includes Director of the Cabinet adjoint, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Communications, Minister of Telecommunications, Professor, humanitarian and a woman with the curiosity to discover the world, she has a unique perspective on migration; “Migration is natural” she expressed, “It opens your mind, body, and soul. It can be a response to crisis, it allows people to overcome”. Yet, her for her country is evident “ We are the land of the Toumai, the cradle of humanity. Chad is a passageway, a refuge, a country of potential.”
This story is part of the "Beyond the Headlines: an Overview of Migration in Chad" publication.