The story of Mbacke
Serigne Mbacke arrived in Spain 15 years ago with only his three Senegalese friends. Right now he works in the heights, directs the Senegalese Association of Ferrol and has just become a father. The beginning was anything but easy: a new language, new customs, new challenges, but also new opportunities.
“Over the past few years we have managed to integrate with the other countrymen and bring more Senegalese to Ferrol. When we decided to establish the Senegalese Community Association, there were only three of us. Right now the number is growing and more than 100 people from Senegal helping each other in different occasions. We all treat each other as one big family living together. Often, we receive people who have no money or food to survive, but thanks to our family spirit, we always manage to solve the problems together.
When I first came here, staying in Spain seemed like a wonderful new opportunity. Although Senegal is poor, what really matters is a country that has managed to avoid war. Perhaps living in peace is the most important aspect in my home country. Politicians have remained the same for years and certainly failed to bring any change in Senegal. That is the reason why we migrate to Europe, to earn the money that we can then use to improve ourselves.”
Spanish and Senegalese cultures are very different. However, according to Serigne Mbacke, what really matters is to adapt and learn from the place that has welcomed you.
“If we come to a new place, we come to improve. I think some of the customs in Senegal should be replaced and some of them should remain the same. We have customs that are not good for any of us. I often compare two customs from different cultures and choose the one I prefer. For me that is the main point of integration: take one but leave the other. Countries like Spain have several aspects that I would love to import to Senegal, such as fixed working hours.”
Senegalese culture is about integrity. We never leave our family alone without food, we share everything we have. I miss many things from my home country, so someday I think I will go back. We live here in Spain to go back and improve our family and community life there. I have two more children in Senegal. We are thinking about developing a bigger project like opening a local business or building houses for everyone in my homeland (it is still very common for people to live in overcrowded spaces). We really need these changes.
What is the most important thing in your life? Or your dream?
“My dream would be for society to stop mistreating people, especially migrants who come here and are willing to get the necessary work permits and papers to be able to work. Personally, I don’t care if someone calls me black or white because color doesn’t matter to me. But what I don’t want for other people is to be treated differently because they are migrants. Many of us are fighting for our future.
It really bothers me a lot. At the same time, I know we can change this attitude. What we have to do is very simple: treat everyone the same way.”