Several years ago, a French friend introduced me to the song “Marly-Gomont,” by Kamini. I thought it was brilliant; the lyrics were clever and the beat was infectious. It’s been viewed over 11 million times on YouTube, so others must agree. In the song, Kamini talks about moving to a little village in Normandy where cows outnumbered humans 20:1 and his was the only Black family. Racism – overt and implicit – are the themes of the song. I often use it in class when doing a unit on immigration.
Netflix recently recommended a French film to me with the English title The African Doctor . When I started watching it, however, I saw that the title was actually Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont and it was the story of how the family came to the village when Kamini was just a little boy.
His father, Seyolo Zantoko, a recently graduated doctor from the Congo, but who trained in France, agreed to be a physician in a tiny village that could not attract a new doctor. He hoped that he’d be able to bring over his family from the political unrest of the Congo and eventually be sponsored for French citizenship. Integration came slowly and put a strain on the whole family. I don’t think it’s a plot spoiler to tell you that all eventually works out well for the Zantoko family. The story is told with lots of humor along the way, even though the message is a serious one. I highly recommend this film to you. Have any of you seen it?