Who is Mamoudou Gassama
If you find yourself walking the streets of Paris, it won’t be too long before you hear the name of Mamoudou Gassama. The man behind the name is currently being regarded as a hero. If you flip the channels on television, you’ll see his face, see newscasters talk about him and even see him give an interview in broken French. Despite that, the man is currently beloved by the country because he represents what we all want to be.
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A Media Sensation
Real life stories of heroism are rarely as dramatically captured on film as Mamoudou Gassama’s was, and so his story quickly circulated around the world through the media. Meanwhile, social media users shared the unbelievable video of the man’s heroic act on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. All of a sudden, Mamoudou was famous.
Among those who were amazed by the heroic act was none other than French President Emmanuel Macron. He said that the man known as the Paris Spider-Man had performed “an exceptional act; an act of heroism.” Obviously, no one would disagree with that assessment, as he had done what few others would have been brave enough to attempt.
Meeting The President
To Mamoudou’s surprise, he was actually invited to meet with the French president, where he got a surprise. Macron said that he would be fast-tracking Mamoudou’s citizenship so that he could officially be a part of the nation that now adored him. He also gave Mamoudou a medal “for bravery and devotion.”
Celebrated As A Hero
Many others, including celebrities and public officials, have applauded the Paris Spider-Man for his bravery. “He helped someone in danger, which is not such a common thing in our society,” said the head of the local Seine-Saint-Denis authority that is processing Mamoudou’s French citizenship. The mayor of Montreuil said he would find better housing conditions for Mamoudou’s family, saying that he was glad to see citizens understanding how migrants benefit the nation.
A Difficult Youth
That said, Mamoudou Gassama wasn’t always worshiped, wanted or even looked upon as a hero. He grew up in the African nation of Mali, a country that is riddled with poverty and despair. In Mali half of the population is living on under $1.25 per day, which is the international poverty line. In recent years, the area has been marred by famine and military conflicts. That said, Gassama was able to leave before these hard years would get the best of him.
Arrested In Libya
The first time that Mamoudou Gassama attempted to travel to a new nation and start life anew, he faced a desire situation. He and a small pack of fellow refugees journeyed through the Sahara desert. The trek was his first brush with adventure and terror. He worked his way through Burkina Faso, into Niger and on to Libya. Unfortunately for Mamoudou, he was caught and arrested in Libya, where the authorities assaulted him.
Freedom By Sea
Many people would have been too scared to attempt such a long and arduous journey again. They recalled their time in Libya and stay home. Mamoudou was determined! He wasn’t going to settle for a life amidst war and terror. He wanted nothing more than to secure a better life for himself. The next time he tried to get out of Mali, he traveled via boat to the Italian coast in a trip that was fraught with dangers and could have easily ended with his drowning. However, he miraculously made it to Italy.
Stuck In Italy
After arriving in Italy, he spent four years in the country. He arrived in 2014 and did what he could to work and survive in the country without his citizenship. Mamoudou was a ghost amongst the citizens. The Italian masses did not welcome him or treat him with warmth. He had already been through two extremely dangerous journeys- did they give him the strength for the heroics he would later perform? Only Mamoudou Gassama truly knows for sure.
Back With His Family
At 22 years old, Mamoudou finally made the last leg of his trip to France, where he was able to find his brothers. He had stayed in Italy for some time but had always planned on reuniting with his brothers. Now he was back with family members, which provided some relief but was perhaps a small consolation when considering how difficult migrant life can be in France.
A Difficult Life In France
In France, it isn’t always easy for migrant workers. In the case of Mamoudou Gassama, he found himself living in a small migrant accommodation where he was crammed in with his three brothers and several cousins, too. Although he loved France, his life had started out in a very difficult way and there was no immediate change in sight.
Can’t Find Work
A large part of the problem is that Mamoudou and his family members were migrants and therefore unable to work legally in the country. As such, they had to scrap together whatever work they could get without legal protections that are usually afforded to workers in the nation. They earned low pay and barely got by, but they were together.
Hanging In The Balance
Paris is like many big cities. People are walking, minding their own and paying little attention to someone in need. On this day one onlooker looked up to a horrible sight. It was a young toddler handing on for dear life on a high rise apartment building. The French citizens below didn’t know what to make of the sight. A crowd gathered below and the masses began looking on in horror and awaiting the worse.
Who Can Help?
Of course, in real life superheroes don’t exist and the onlookers were horrified to see that the child had no real chance of being rescued in the immediate future. The fire department had been called, but they would take minutes to arrive on the scene, and the child couldn’t hang on that long. The bystanders were horrified at what was sure to come.
A Hero’s Decision
On the ground, a 22-year-old Mali native named Mamoudou Gassama was seeing what everybody else on the ground was seeing, but his reaction was much different. Instead of praying, shouting, or calling for help, Gassama jumped into action. The man who would later be known as the Paris Spider-Man sprung into action and began to climb.
Concerned For His Safety
When Gassama started to climb, gasps came about from the crowd. What was this man doing? Surely he could not safely scale several floors of balconies and do it safely, at that. And how long could the toddler hold on, anyway? While they were hopeful that the mystery hero could help, many were concerned that they would end up witnessing two tragedies instead of one.
Cheering For The Hero
However, Mamoudou was scaling the balconies at an unbelievable pace, and as he climbed each subsequent floor, the crowd’s belief in him started to build. Right away, onlookers started cheering on Mamoudou, clapping for him and urging him to continue. Later on, Mamoudou would say that as he continued climbing, his confidence grew and allowed him to keep on.
Spider-Man Saves The Day
What seemed like an eternity was actually over in just over 30 seconds, as Mamoudou Gassama scaled the balconies incredibly quickly. As he reached to the top, another person at the apartment next to the one where the toddler hung was reaching to help the child from losing his balance. Finally, Mamoudou got all the way up and pulled the toddler to safety in one quick motion.
The Toddler Was In Danger
It was an amazing moment, prompting cheers and even tears from the crowd below, who were relieved to see that the child was safe. It turned out that the toddler’s father had left the boy alone to go to the store and play Pokemon Go, only returning to find out that his son almost died. The father now faces charges of failing his legal duty as a parent, but at least the boy is safe.
Mamoudou Speaks Out
Of course, everyone wanted to know what goes through the head of a hero as he decides to put himself at risk to save someone else. Mamoudou was very humble, saying that “I didn’t think about it, I climbed up and God helped me.” Mamoudou’s love of children motivated him to act. “I like children, I would have hated to see him getting hurt in front of me,” he said.
What About The Others?
Some were not so happy about how the situation has been handled, as they view the president’s reaction as a public relations stunt. After all, had Mamoudou not been there at that specific time, he would still be living in squalor with his family. Claire Rodier, who is part of a group that supports immigrants, noted the contract between how Mamoudou was treated and the way other migrants have been treated.
Terrible Migrant Conditions
As Mamoudou already knows, migrants have it pretty hard in France, as thousands of refugees and migrants are left to sleep under bridges or along canals in what doctors describe as “catastrophic sanitary conditions.” There was even talk of new laws that could speed up the rate at which migrants are deported from France.
Can’t Please Everyone
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, however, said that the government would have been criticized no matter how they responded to Mamoudou’s heroics. “Those who accuse us of opportunism would have been shouting if we did nothing,” Griveaux said. Certainly, the situation for migrants is very complex and there are no easy solutions available to French leaders or migrants themselves.
A Bright Future Ahead
Mamoudou Gassama has already moved on, however. He recently visited a local fire station that said that Mamoudou’s bravery and concern for citizens is exactly what they look for in their personnel. He has begun an internship that will last ten months and pay him about $700 per month. His citizenship should be finalized within three months.
Mamoudou Gassama has become a bona fide hero in a world where sometimes heroes are scarcer than we’d prefer to see. Now known as France’s own Spider-Man, Mamoudou has given a face to the struggles of migrants within the nation and potentially helped provoke a little more understanding between French citizens and the migrants who dream of one day attaining their own citizenship.