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How will the dust settle

Things have been calm in Mayotte for the past week, but certain factors indicate that all is not forgotten over the Bacar fiasco. Here's a little rundown on the goings on that I'm at liberty to speak of, along with a reminder that I'm not a journalist or investigative reporter. I'm just recording these things as they come to me. The whole situation is complicated and takes a bit of history to understand.  If you are interested in the details, you can get a fairly straightforward rundown from the "history" section of this wikipedia entry. In a nutshell, Mayotte opted to keep its ties to France in 1974 and again in 1976 when the three other Comoros islands chose independence. Thirty odd years later, numerous people and factions are still not content with what they see as an unnatural division of the archipelago and the remains of French colonial rule. 


In the news: Sambi, the current Anjouanais president, has declared that no more immigrants can be sent back to Anjouan from Mayotte because Mayotte is part of the Comoros, and Mayotte is as much their home as Anjouan. Despite the question being put to a vote and Mayotte deciding to remain French, the other Comoros islands do not respect the decision of their neighbor. 

And France accepted the criminal dictator Bacar on Mahorais soil, so it can accept the law-abiding citizens who should have free access to Mayotte, so the opinion goes. 

What that means to us: All of the illegal immigrants who were awaiting deportation have been released from detention. This isn't alarming since the people aren't criminals. They just come over here looking for a better life. However, with the police no longer able to detain and deport the clandestines, even more are immigrating from Anjouan, and they are possibly carrying guns.
An arms stash was already found here on Mayotte. Before the current trouble,  mana_triniand his colleagues did not go to work armed. Now they do. If the immigrants can make it to the Mahorais shore, they feel they will be home safe. That's the situation for some individuals. For those who believe that France should get out of Mayotte--those with the kinds of guns we are talking about--a coup is not out of the question.

Sambi's embargo can't last, however; something has to give. And when it does, if Mayotte's connection to France doesn't radically change, there is likely to be a massive "clean-up"--authorities apprehending and deporting every single person without the French nationality or other visa giving them the right to be here. The Mahorais are insisting on it. In other words, the police and gendarmes won't be content with just stopping kwasas, setting up checkpoints at the ferry, or pulling over taxis to check papers. They'll go house to house. With one third of the Mayotte population being comprised of illegal immigrants, there is going to be a lot of dust flying.

Even though the métropolitans have mostly relaxed over last week's attacks, Jaanfar, one of our Anjounais acquaintances, assures us that the situation is far from being resolved. Other Anjouanias have told him that they would be proud to be the first to "cut off a white's hand." (I guess that's a reference to the Islamic law of cutting off the hand of a thief.) Jaanfar seems to think that we should stay home as much as possible and definitely not go wandering around after dark. Perhaps it is simple caution, perhaps he knows something we don't, but he seems to feel the powder in the keg more than we do.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
God bless you both.
Apr. 4th, 2008 08:00 am (UTC)
Thanks. I think he's looking out for us. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Sounds absolutely horrid
Apr. 4th, 2008 08:02 am (UTC)
The thing that makes it sad is that there is no easy solution to the problem. The current situation is what it is because of the past, not necessarily because of Bacar, so just handing him over (which, since the Comoros Union still has the death penalty, I'm not sure France will do) is not going to get to the root of the problem, that being the misery present in the other islands.
Apr. 4th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Oh my god... At the same time as I'm terrified for you, I'm absolutely fascinated by this situation, and how you can update so many people on it so quickly.

But more, I'm terrified.
Apr. 4th, 2008 08:04 am (UTC)
Call me overly optimistic, but I really don't think there is any reason to be terrified. You can lean toward more fascinated until I say otherwise. :p
Apr. 4th, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC)
Okay, will do. Keep journalin' it all! :-)
Apr. 4th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
As soon as I have something else to report, you'll be the first to know. :D
Apr. 4th, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)
Dang. I was reading news about this stuff and somehow hoping that I didn't remember my geography right -- 'cuz I was thinking this was going to affect you if I *did* remember it right. Awkward way to say it, but I was worried about you, sure hope you're safe, and I'll keep you and J in my thoughts and prayers.

Apr. 4th, 2008 08:10 am (UTC)
Thanks, BK. I do feel safe in my house/neighborhood (we live in the middle of dozens immigrants and have good relationships with them), so it's hard for me to think that those outside my comfort sphere truly wish ill on someone because of their skin color or nationality. I know that's naïve, and I know race and greed have always been motives for conflict, but I keep thinking, "Yeah, but not us."
Apr. 4th, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. :(

Stay safe, you!
Apr. 4th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
We will. *hugs*
Apr. 4th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you for so much detail - only getting the bare bones on the news only makes the situation seem more nightmarish, somehow. At least now I have a glimmer of understanding of why this is happening.

I know that wishing it wasn't happening is no help, but I'm doing it anyway. I'm still thinking of you both. Keep safe.

Apr. 4th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
only getting the bare bones on the news only makes the situation seem more nightmarish, somehow

I know what you mean. That's one of the reasons I want to blog about it. I'm not in the thick of the hostilities, being the hermit I am, but I see well enough that the streets aren't running with frothing masses intent on wreck and ruin.

I wish it wasn't happening, too, and I don't see a clear way for it to end with everyone being happy. :-/
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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