A tribute

Some of us had the chance to meet Simon.

David Fidele, the direcor of “The Land Between”, wrote this short tribute to Simon which we want to share.

This is Simon – also known as “Rasta”.
I met Simon while in Tanger, Morocco, at the start of this year. I was walking the streets and he came up to me with a big smile on his face, to shake my hand and give me a hug. I didn’t immediately recognise him, until he told me that we had met in the Gourougou Mountains of northern Morocco last year – he was living in the mountains along with thousand of other Sub-Saharan African migrants, dreaming of one day entering Europe for a “better life”.
We went to a cafe to drink a tea together, and I showed him my finished film. He loved it.
Simon was from Guinea Conakry. He was an artist. A musician.
He showed me photos of himself playing music, and told me that all he wanted to do was to go to Europe to play music.
Now that will never happen.
I just received the news that Simon passed away last week. He drowned while attempting to cross from Morocco to Spain on a small boat, without a life jacket. It is being reported that over 1,200 migrants successfully reached Spain from Morocco last week. It is suspected (but not being reported) that up to 100 migrants also died while attempting this journey in the past week.
We put up walls. We put up barriers. And we think that this is a way to stop the movement of people. To stop migration. But it is not.
All it does it make determined people take incredible risks, which so often turns fatal.
Every migrant has their own unique story. Some are asylum seekers, fleeing war or persecution. Some are “economic migrants”, wanting to work to send money back to their families.
And some are footballers. Artists. Musicians. Wanting to share their talent with the world, and get opportunities that they can not in their own countries.
Simon just wanted the opportunity to play music.
I only spent a very short time with Simon, but I know that his character, personality and enthusiasm touched many people in his time in Morocco.
Here is a song that he recorded in Morocco called “Rastaman”, where his music lives on – https://myspace.com/diasporaguinea/music/song/rasta-man-95799271-106745656 (you have to stop the “advertising” first, and then press play to listen to his music)

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