After having had chats with various buddies from around the world, I felt I needed to post something in english.
So. As you could see the past few days, I had my “Je suis Charlie” icon on facebook.
Some may wonder why. Well, let’s start at the (very) beginning, which we all know, is the very best way to start.
So once upon a time were cartoonists. I’m not going to write about the past few years, about them being under threats, about that. I’m going to talk about why, I felt that I am Charlie.
Those cartoonists, the oldest ones are of my parents generations. Dad often spoke about Le Grand Duduche, this character drawn by Cabu. Due to not having a telly as a kid, I wasn’t subjected too much to Cabu at the Club Dorothée (a kid program that introduced 80/90 kids to the glory that are japanese anime) but Cabu was part of the gang and drew cartoons as well as the covers of the main anchor of the program, Dorothée, who was also a singer. That I remember ‘cos I was old enough to get access to my cousin’s albums and remember the drawings. There was also the weird, hard to understand drawings from Wolinski which featured in Paris Match, which my gran read and was a magazine I read. Back then I read everything. even what I did no understand. So I read the Wolinski cartoons which as far as my under-10 years old brain was able to understand, were not funny (and kinda crass.) As mum said yesterday, it was a good thing I did not understand them. Nonetheless, Wolinski and his naked people were part of my “learning to read” experience. Amidst all that I was introduced to Charb, who was drawing for Mon Quotidien, a weekly newspapaper for kids which was summarizing the french and world news in a 4 pages paper. I was a subscriber as was my classroom. And not to forget Tignous which was drawing for l’Evenement du Jeudi, a magazine Dad was a subscriber to (and since back then I used to read everything as said before, I was subjected to his drawings I never cared much for ‘cos I didn’t like his style.)
So once upon a time, before I was event 10, four of the slained were part of my life. They were as much part of my life as Nicole Lambert’s “Les triplés” (which drew a comic in Figaro Madam and my gran used to mail to me every single week even when I was in my early twenties because that’s what she did.)
So even before realising that they had killed men that were drawing caustic irreverent sarcastic “oh my god they dared” cartoons in Charlie Hebdo, my brain registered that 4 pilars of my cultural upbringing had been killed.
So me being in the walk today, having my “Je suis Charlie” sign, was also about me mourning 4 friends. Wolinski taught me to read as much as The Bereinstein Bears taught me the basics of English.
So I am Charlie.
I never bought the newspaper. back when I was buying newspapers it was only abroad and mostly to keep abreast of the news in France and most of the time, abroad, one could find only Le Monde.
I read the newspaper. At the newsstand sometimes, at friend who had it too, at the library when they had it.
When I say I Am Charlie, I know fully well what I am about. I don’t expect you to understand. I don’t expect you to agree.
So once upon a time were those men and women and they wrote and drew. And somehow some idiotic bastards thought they’d kill them to avenge their prophet. Because that what sane people do (not.)
And so they killed. My countrymen. In my country. And it’s still fucking surreal and what the fuck just happened there?
They killed the maintenance man that died in his mate’s arm as they hid in the closet. They killed men (and women) who would have rather died standing for their ideas than yield to their threats. They killed police officiers that were doing their duty. They killed people going to the dairy.
And in their memories I walked today. I am Charlie but I am also all of them.
I am Cabu, Honoré, Tignous and Charb. I am Wolinski, Ahmed, Frédéric, Franck, Mustapha, Bernard. I am Elsa and I am Michel. I am Clarissa and Yohav. I am François-Michel, Yohan and Philippe.
To say I am Charlie is to say that I am French. That I can’t draw for shit but am glad to be allowed to doodle. It means I can keep on writing my stories. I mean I can walk, the head high and share with my neighboor.
I am my memories and my bleeding heart. I am free. It means I am a citizen of the republic.
I am Charlie are three words. To encompass an idea.
By commiting those despicable acts of violence, they have brought a country together like never before. They have rallied us around values we somehow believed no one really cared about. They have brought my slightly agoraphobic mother in the street for the first time in her life because she wanted to make herself heard (ok, mum’s not agoraphobic. she is just scared that by going to a demonstration she will end up being trampled to death. not joking.) Do they understand what they’ve done? They have brought us together (and I sure as hell hope it’ll last for more than a week.)
I don’t stand behind all of Charlie’s cartoons. It doesn’t mean I am not Charlie.
So in the beginning were people drawing cartoons. People educating us in various ways. People taking care of our safety. People living their life. In the end they are dead. Murdered.
And I walked in their name. I walked in my name. I walked in the name of my country.
I walked because I am French and that’s me, scared about tomorrow but standing. Tall and proud, hand in hand with my friends, my fellow countrymen.
I wrote this because I have had various chats with non French in the past few days. And I wanted you to better understand.
(I also walk for the living, the one whom through acts of courage made me feel lighter. I walk for Lassana, for Lilian and Michel. But also, for the armed forces of my country who are somehow weirded out by us thanking them as we are, but man. They deserve our thanks.)