A Rude Awakening

Marius Makon, Candidate for Mayor of Barcelona 2019        Photo: African Press Club

By Chiogor Constance Ikokwu

 Dateline: Gracia, Barcelona

 I learnt about Marius Makon from a friend recently, when we were discussing politics. Originally from Cameroon, Marius is the first African ever to run for the post of Mayor of Barcelona. He took a shot at the position in the just concluded 2019 elections.

During my conversation with this friend, I knew immediately that I would like to interview this daring young man. I say daring because this is similar to a Lebanese man in Nigeria running for office. People acquainted with our history would know that there is a  large population of Lebanese people in Nigeria who arrived in the 70s and 80s, fleeing civil war in their country. Many settled permanently and the arrivals have continued.

While the two situations may not be entirely the same, you get the gist – the indigene versus settler discourse.

I did not hesitate to request to be put in touch with Marius. The first thing I wanted to know was his motivation for jumping into the political fray in a country where he is a tiny, almost invisible minority. His response was revealing.

The 34-year old actor and producer was minding his business in a café in Madrid last year when a woman originally from El Salvador walked up to him and smashed a bottle on his head.

It sounds like a scene from a movie, right? I could not believe it. So I asked, can you say that again? He repeated. A random 33-year old woman attacked him with a bottle in broad daylight, on grounds that he had no business as a black person being in that café. The woman called him a “dirty black shit.” She boasted that she was “white” and threatened that she could kill him without any consequences.

Marius was dazed. Speechless. Blood oozed from his forehead. In all his years living in Spain from the age of 10, this had never happened to him. He remained calm. As a black man in this clime, he knows the odds are always stacked up against him. He restrained himself and then called the Police.

Nothing happened at the time. The Police did not believe that this was an unprovoked crime. Marius vowed not to let go. He made calls to several contacts, seeking justice. Eventually, the lady was arrested, tried, handed a five-year jail sentence and asked to deposit 15,000 euros with the authorities.

After that incident, his perspectives changed. His focus in life also took a radically different turn. Suddenly, he realized that his community lacked a voice. He came to the conclusion quickly, that one of the ways to make a change was through appropriate political representation. He wasted no time at all.

During the 2019 elections in April, he ran for Mayor of Barcelona on the platform of Por Un Mundo Mas Josto, a Christian leaning moderate party. It seemed like a long shot but he told me that he believed “it was the moment to make the move.” I was sure I could win,” he added.

There were three leading candidates in that election. He garnered two thousand votes against the winner’s 20,000. Marius is fired up and intends to deepen his political activities. According to him, political consciousness is key.

“When you’re conscious of what is happening in the world, you can’t sleep anymore. In Africa, we don’t control our countries. Here in Spain, we need to be heard. We need more black people in positions of authority here. I want to fight to give us a voice,” he stressed.

Marius draws inspiration from prominent pan Africanists and civil right leaders such as Thomas Sankara, Kwameh Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and Martin Luther King, whose legacies he notes, should be carried on. His dream is to meet Julius Malema of South Africa because he believes he can learn a lot from him.

What can I say? Everyone has a mission. Find yours and dig in.

Let me know your thoughts. Enjoy!

 

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8 comments

  1. Very Inspiring. Pure act of bravery, his experience with the woman at the cafe would scare many blacks and hinder them from expressing themselves freely but not Marius Makon, he saw the need to give Africans a voice thereby reduce chances of such occurrences. We need more people like him.

  2. He’s really audacious. I admire his courage and tenacity. If you believe in something, pursue it. Congratulations Marius Makon.

    Excellent interview.

  3. Despite his decision coming after such a harsh occurrence, I believe he is very proactive and wish our judgmental world could have more people like him who are strong enough to at least stand for their rights to be respected, heard and represented.

  4. I presume the usual way to political eminence is from the grass roots up within a party. Good to hear he will deepen his political activities. Also good to hear justice was done in giving the woman a 5 year sentence. I wonder if that sentence would have happened in say Madrid where I’m presuming they are more to the right politically. I’ve watched the fight for Catalonian independence and am assuming the rest of Spain is more rightest. Maybe a reader can better inform me about this.

  5. The reality of racism still exist up on till 2019. I am glad his turning his experience into a platform to speak and be heard!

  6. Am sure the white woman will be full of regrets after the consequences she suffered. Bravo great man, be strong and push through your dreams.

  7. An amazing story. Very inspirational! Spain has come a very long way regarding the marginalisation of minorites. I’ve certainly seen a change in my 15 years living in Barcelona. But there’s still a long way to go. It’s wonderful to see people like Marius pushing himself beyond the obvious barriers and standing up to represent a minority as a black man here in Spain. But oh what a day it will be when occasions like this are no longer a story to write about. Congratulations Marius! And as the article says we all have a mission. It’s one thing unearthing what it is and a totally different one having the courage often required to carry it out.

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