Photo: Eric Djimtoloum
WE ARE NEVER BETTER THAN AT HOME
Married and father of 6, Pierre, 45, is a stylist, designer and owner of “Balmaya Couture”, a complex encompassing a sewing shop and a boutique that focuses on African clothing in general , especially from Burkina Faso. For him, this is an opportunity to allow Chadians to get to know the culture with his famous “Danfani” cloth.
From a young age, he was fascinated by the history of Chad but lived in total confusion. On one hand, his father continuously told him Chad and Burkina-Faso are two countries, brothers and friends with their legendary hospitality.On the contrary, his friends shared that Chad is synonymous with desert and war. Curious and having a love for art, in particular fabric, he found the opportunity to visit and discover the country at a craft fair in 2003 where he was invited to do an exhibition, however, the pleasure was short-lived. Upon return to Burkina, following the exhibition, he guarded his aspiration to one day live in Chad. After being invited a second time for a craft fair in 2011, he finally decided to stay in what he now considers his second homeland. “Balmaya Couture” was launched in the same year, with the support of his “Chadian brothers” as he calls them.
When asked what is the first image that comes to mind when talking about migration, Pierre expressed that he is amazed to see African youngsters crossing the desert and the sea to Europe at their own risk, just because they are looking for a better life. Some survivors arrive safely and discover another reality on the spot, others lose their lives as a result of the extreme travel conditions; he says, “happiness is not only in Europe.”
For Pierre, one cannot live better than at home, and with “Balmaya Couture”, he has given a second chance to some of his brothers who attempted the adventure to Europe. However, since 2016, turnover has dropped drastically, and some have left for Burkina Faso to return to their families after a few years of work in Chad. Despite this situation, which almost contributed to the closure of the small business that employs nearly 10 people including young Chadians, Burkinabes, and Ivorians, he perseveres. Pierre urges African policymakers to implement youth employment policies so that they can stay home and contribute to Africa’s development.
This story is part of the "Beyond the Headlines: an Overview of Migration in Chad" publication.