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There is Hope for Mamadou.

zondag 10 juni 2018
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  • Manhappen, La place, Brussels, 2018

Perhaps it is my upbringing or just unlucky genetics heritage that I am a cynical person. So far I have not been impressed by human interactions (read observations). It is not hard to imagine that I am not the biggest fan of any sort of activism which is what I was hoping to change by participating in “Architecture and activism”. Whether it was able to alter my pessimism is not the intent of this text but I surely can tell you that I still has not reached the level of the adult[child] who goes around and gives flowers to prostitute’s clients hoping to make a change.

[The author has simply lost all hope, but there is still hope for Mamadou]

     I spent a few hours on a Saturday afternoon at the square in front of Saint Roch church in an event that was organized by the Manhappen Studio [known by their actions towards “the Blue House”] which could be described as a sort of ephemeral activism/intervention. People where welcomed with crepes. They could have beers to wash it down after. Different matters were being discussed by groups of people. Locals and a collage of people from different parts of the world were participating in the same activities.

     But I am not going to discuss how effective and successful this event was, as people who were organizing the event have much more to say about it. However, what was the highlight of that day for me was how it was different than other days for a (I guess)6 years old boy named Mamadou.

     Mamadou and his friends might play football in the same square every day. But there are not always drinks provided for them whilst they have the joy of listening to cheesy pop songs playing in the background. Mamadou watched a short movie about “the blue house” (which he probably regretted) but later started a pillow fight with his friends. Later that day, couple of the members of the Manhappen and I, got ourselves involved in a football match with him and his friends. Even though we could not communicate verbally, because of the language barrier, we managed to understand each other using other forms of expression. At the end, his father showed up, which was the indication that he had to leave. Mamadou still kept watching us from the fourth floor balcony. Maybe he still would have preferred to be down there in the square

     It is needless to say, the memories that are shaped during childhood are very profound. Just think about how that one day that you went to the zoo with your “dad” and saw a “giraffe” was very special that you still remember the flavor of the “ice cream” you had the pleasure of eating later. [perhaps another reason of why the author of this text turned cynical is that he could not find a happy memory from his childhood, therefore he had to make one up, obviously he is not very good at it]. Same could be applied to the children in the square, after all, it is not every day that you can have a pillow fight in an urban environment. The truth is that it is very likely that a lot of people involved in the event, myself included, are going to remember this  day without any significant importance as there are many more like this, but certainly that is not the case for Mamadou. Unlike me, he might grow up actually caring about the square.

Amir Abdi

  • Manhappen, La place, Brussels, 2018
  • Manhappen, La place, Brussels, 2018