Looking at Blade Cyrille, you couldn’t imagine this man having moments of weakness.
Cyrille Blade Atangana comes from Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. This tall strong young man holds his head high. He speaks loudly and clearly, in deliberate phrases. If he would not have run out of money to finish his studies at the University of Yaoundé, he could have become a great lawyer. But even a straightforward character like Cyrille could not manage to reach higher in a country like Cameroon – especially not, if the family doesn’t have enough money and the necessary social connections. Instead of becoming a lawyer Cyrille started to work as a mechanic. Still, he couldn’t find a stable job and had to make a living working odd jobs. Even though the majority of young people in Cameroon have no better choices than selling food in the streets or providing similar services, police in Cameroon are at war against informal work. A lot of young people get arrested and have to spend months and years on remand before getting a proper hearing in court. When Cyrille came into conflict with the police because of his irregular work, he felt that there was no choice: end up in jail or … flee.
A few weeks after leaving his country he received news from home. His mother had passed away. From that point on there was no more going back. His new goal was set on reaching Europe.
New aim: Europe
Getting to Europe wasn’t easy. In Algeria and Morocco people treated dark-skinned travelers poorly. They were threatened, chased, robbed. In between periods of travelling he stayed at a place to work and earn money to continue his journey. He lived this way for two years. In Morocco he was caught by the police and deported to Algeria. He ended up in the Oujda refugee camp, but made his way back to Morocco. At the coast he met traffickers who were supposed to take him to Europe in a zodiac. On the ocean the boat ran into trouble. It took days until the Spanish coast guard found the immigrants. Some of Cyrilles companions were dehydrated. The Spanish police planned to bring them to a refugee camp on the Spanish mainland. Cyrille, since he was physically still in good condition, was supposed to be brought back to Morocco. When Cyrille realized these plans, he threatened to jump into the water, if the police would not take him to Spain. He succeeded … and came to Ceuta.
During his time in Ceuta, Cyrille did everything to not attract attention. He kept calm, started to learn Spanish, and learned about Spanish culture.
A person like Cyrille who appreciates his independence, had to struggle with the living conditions in the C.E.T.I. When he was told that his application for asylum was denied and that there was no other legal way to stay, he realized that he had to find another way of leaving Ceuta: his solution was to crawl into a truck to sneak out. Before he managed to get past the checkpoints at the port of Ceuta, there was a disturbance among the immigrants in the C.E.T.I. The protesters put pressure on those immigrants who didn’t want to demonstrate. To calm down the situation, some of those who had remained calm were allowed to leave for mainland Spain.
Among them was Cyrille Blade.
A new freedom
Blade Cyrille was sent to stay with an NGO for immigrants in Salamanca in Northern Spain. Soon he recognized that there weren’t any possibilities of him building up an independent life. As soon as he had the opportunity to move he went to Luxemburg where a friend of his sister was living. Even there he did not find work and could not get established. He ended up on the street, sleeping in public parks. After some disappointing weeks in Luxemburg he received an invitation from a friend and went to Marseille. He was lucky there and found a job as a security guard in a supermarket two hours away from Marseille. He spent half of his wage to pay for the train every day, but he was happy to have a job at least.
Today Cyrille is unemployed again. His boss in the supermarket took advantage of his situation and did not pay him after weeks of work. As irregular immigrants without documents, people like Cyrille have little recourse against this form of exploitation.