Today my friend/helper Dudu was held hostage by the gang members while I was only allowed to walk out of the slum to fetch money to pay the ransom. We have now left the slum and won’t ever go back.

I knew from the start that this was going to be a tough place to work in. I was “welcomed” very aggressively on the first day a month ago, and we’ve had to be tactical with the gang ever since.

We know all the gangsters by now, but in this slum you learn very quickly not to trust anyone holding a weapon. Today, they came to fetch us and brought us to the leader. He said we needed to pay 100 000 CFA Francs (150 euros) for having filmed in the slum, something we were never told we couldn’t do. It was an excuse to get money off us, something the gang has been wanting to do for a while. They told us that they had men at all the exits so we couldn’t escape. For Dudu and I it was all about keeping cool, using our experience of these type of ghettos, and showing we weren’t impressed by them and their knives.

I managed to only pay half and make them believe I’m going to come back tomorrow to pay the rest because I didn’t have it at home, and my bank is in an other part of the city. The gang members know where we live because they sent a kid to follow us home one day. So we’ve just left and are staying with friends in another part of the city. Dudu and I are fine, just exhausted.

It’s a shame we couldn’t say goodbye to all the people who really liked us in the slum. It was only the gang members who were causing trouble, not the rest of the locals. In fact the rest were particularly sweet people who suffer daily from the gang’s activities. I’m glad we were able to face those difficulties and paint in that almost-impossible environment because it’s exactly what “Share The Word Project” is all about: panting in marginalised communities, and tough ghettos. Although we won’t finish this last wall, for Dudu and I it’s mission accomplished. It was hard, but we leave with plenty of great memories!
Lots of love to our friends in the slum! 

This picture was the last Dudu took before the gang “interrupted” us.

 

 

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