samedi 26 juillet 2014

France: From Elizé Raphael (1929) to Simon Wuro (2014): Crossed Destinies of the first and last Black Mayors of France.

 
The first black mayor of France died in Buchenwald in 1944.

         On May 19, 1929 in a small town in Sarthe, a Martinique became the first Black mayor of France. A journey full of hardships for extraordinary destiny: that of Raphael Elize.
         Born in Martinique, grand-son of a freed slave (Elise, who gave his name to the family): a priori, nothing predisposed Raphael Elize to become mayor of Sablé-sur-Sarthe, a small town of the Loire. And yet ...
         Born on February 4, 1891 at Lamentin, Raphael is only 11 years old when he was forced to flee with his family, the monstrous eruption of Mount Pelee (30,000 deaths). He continued his education in Paris before joining the National Veterinary School of Lyon, which indicates major in 1914. Immediately war broke out. The young man is mobilized on the front of the Marne, in the 36th Colonial Infantry Regiment. He survived and was awarded the Military Cross in 1919.

Veterinary of his state.

         The same year, Raphael Elize was appointed veterinary at Sable-sur-Sarthe, a small rural and conservative city of 5,000 inhabitants. He moved there with his wife Caroline, and his work and involvement in local life, gradually gaining the respect of the community. Popularity which, however, gives it not the mayor when he appears for the first time in 1925 under the label S.F.I.O. (French Section of the Workers' International), which he joined last year. Four years later, on May 19, 1929, he transformed the test, becoming the first black mayor of France. Reelected in 1935, he equip the team of Sablé with a canteen, a football field and an Olympic swimming pool - the first in the west of France. He also sets up a free consultation to local pediatric hospital.

Removed by the Germans because of its color.

         The War again interrupted in its tracks. Mobilized in September 1939 as a veterinarian in Hirson, Aisne, he is removed from office as mayor by the occupant on his return from the front, on August 9, 1940. "It is incomprehensible to the German resentment and the sense of German law that a black man can take the office of mayor, "
expressed an order of Feldkommandantur relates Serge Bile  in his bookBlack in Nazi camps”.

Resistant, he was arrested and deported to Buchenwald.

         Returned full-time veterinarian, he joined the Resistance. He is denounced and arrested in September 1943 and deported to Buchenwald on January 17, 1944. On February 9, 1945, he was seriously wounded in an Allied bombing and died that day. Not without leaving behind a strong legacy. "His enthusiasm and modernism have profoundly affected Saboliens"
notes François Fillon, his successor as mayor of Sablé many years later (1983 to 2001). For the former Prime Minister, the election of Raphael Elize was the symbol of a "first advanced the fight against prejudice."

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Simon Worou, Mayor of Sainte-Juliette-sur-Vaur in the department of Aveyron, elected in March, 2014.

Worou Simon, born in Lomé, seminarian, military and French mayor of the village.
 
         The Grandparents his wife had never seen a Black when he met her in 1997 in their village in the South of France. Seventeen years later, the Togolese Worou Simon is the first African mayor of the French department of Aveyron.

"It happens something great for me,"
said the "pillar" of 1, 85 m, born in Lomé.
 
         Children in the area that leads rugby throw him "coucou, Simon!" Neighbors tap him on the shoulder, chambrent, as a "congratulations to Mayor" of Sainte-Juliette-sur-Viaur, 577 inhabitants ...
         In 1997, Simon discovered for the first time this village, its two towers, old farms brown stones, and raising sheep milk for Roquefort cheese.
         "I was studying non-commissioned officer in the French Air Force, Rochefort (west) and I was invited to the parents of my (future) wife. His grandparents had never seen a + black + of their lives ... Then my father - a very open farmer - asked me to go play rugby in the nearby village of Cassagnes And I was amazed at the reception, adopted "
.

Integration through rugby after an alleged marriage "White".
 
         "The hard knocks, he has yet experienced in the field when fans threw him rasta”, “eat your banana”, “dirty negro" recalls Olivier Rebois his rugby coach from 2000 to his friend.
         Racism, Simon also says he "felt a bit in the job"
when he took all the jobs in the area - Skinning pigs to the slaughterhouse and day porter bowling evening - before managing a busy team cleanliness in the city of Rodez.
         The man has not quite forgotten that in 2002, the city of Sainte-Juliette refused his marriage record, alleged "white"
on suspicion of his bride "for papers" ... the couple went to get married in the town next door.
         But confidence has prevailed and soon passed the "where's the Black?"
to "where's Simon?" he said.

"He is from the corner now! "

         At the heart of Sainte-Juliette, a former farmer of 80 years said spontaneously: "He is from the corner, now that he is married to a lady of here, lives in a barn retyped his son goes to public school!. What do you want, do not be racist, but you must try. It's nice, pretty jovial when he toured all the houses, I've found it. "
         Result: the list without a label he drove as a former councilman was attended by 62% of the vote in the first round of municipal elections in March. He tallied 222 votes - 357, part of the villagers who, nevertheless, scratched his name.
         The restaurant "Au parfum d’Aveyron",
where he crumbles bread in his soup and drinks red wine with his charcuterie, Simon enjoys "recognition" that the election offers him and said "Aveyron, a point that is all ". "Voters of F.N. (National Front, far right) come to drink a beer at home, it does not bother me. Like humans. Lot. Whatever its a priori, its membership," said the activist Socialist Party.

We were a generation without perspective.

         In Lomé, the teenager already tried all avenues of integration by the collective: the minor seminary from his 11 years with the idea of ​​"to cure", then in the French army recruited in the country until become NCO. "It was a generation without perspective. We were thirst to know anything else," he said. The Togo was living under the reign of Gnassingbe Eyadema - in power for 38 years until his death in 2005 - and whose son Faure Gnassingbé now chairs the country.
         Although he tried - once - back to Lome, but no more than a week held in a military camp in the Air: "I made a total erasure of Togo in my head."
        
The Mayor said today "hide under a big smile" that he is anxious to do well. Twenty-five years after the election of Togolese Kofi Yamgnane for mayor of a town in Brittany, in western France.

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