It’s a controversial subject – immigrants; different cultures, different religions, habits, way of dressing, of eating…….often the problem consists in the refusal of foreigners to attempt to blend their origins into a new reality, as much as the refusal of natives to accept or comprehend anything out of their comfort zone. And whilst the latter may be partially understandable, it is also arguable that learning about alternative cultures gives an insight to how the other “half” lives, often leading us to see ourselves in another, more appreciative light.
The folk populating our valleys are in general a very welcoming lot, and the many people come from afar are basically absorbed into everyday life, eventually becoming part of the scenery as much as the natives. And then – and then there are the foreigners who simply stand out, for their intelligence, their indomitable spirit, their will to learn, to bind and merge whilst remaining absolutely exceptional……like Clémentine.
Clémentine Pacmogda, or Clem, as many friends call her, is an ebony-skinned young woman, who radiates cheerfulness and sheer positivity around her wherever she goes. Her strong-willed personality has stood her in good stead throughout her life, since her troubled journey began in Burkina Faso, in west Africa. Her humble origins were riddled with the typical difficulties of her people, nothing was ever easy. But thanks to an innate stubborness, a brilliant mind, and the will to better herself, in 2008, Clem succeeded in winning a scholarship which permitted her to travel to Italy, study at the prestigious “Normale” University of Pisa, and obtain her doctorate in 2012.
Although Clem has her origins in Burkina Faso, she was actually born on November 8th 1977 in Ivory Coast, where her parents had emigrated. They went back home when she was a small child, and immediately after their return, her father died. She is the third of four children, the only one of the family to have continued studying right up to a doctorate. The road leading to this excellent accomplishment proved to be long and tortuous, made even more impressive by the fact that this headstrong young woman never imagined that she would be given the opportunity to leave her homeland, let alone be awarded a scholarship in Italy! But that is exactly what happened, and in October 2008, she arrived in Pisa, after a very courageous journey, to commence her studies based on “Acquisition of language in early childhood” – with a psycological approach. This course lasted until 2012, comprising a five month – long university exchange at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon in France.
During these years, she made many encounters, had many new experiences, but never once forgot where she came from. She went back to her homeland several times, for burocratical reasons and to be reunited with her family, but Italy has always called her back. Since then, one of Clem’s priorities has become to inform and enlighten the masses regarding the different culture she grew up in, and to describe the hardships that her people have to face every day. In order to get through to as large an audience as possible, she decided to put her journey into words, to relate all her life experience up until this point in a book – BASNEWENDE.
The usual, boring memoires, one might say? Not at all – there is nothing “usual” or “boring” about Clémentine! First of all, although she speaks an excellent Italian (and French and English, as well as her native African dialect)), she has her own engaging way of putting things down, therefore the editor chose to leave it exactly as written. Reading the book is like hearing Clem speak; grammatical mistakes? Yes, a few. Incorrect spelling? Here and there. But they are what makes this book so full of life, so real, so Clem! She tells her story with a courageous, but always positive approach, often minimizing, with an optimistic shrug, the difficulties she had to face – and there were plenty! Sometimes very funny in her naivity, sometimes dramatic in her description of day to day life, Clem succeeds in conveying real emotions in her novel.
She tells of her meeting with her husband Dario, now a diabetologist in the Borgotaro hospital. His work brought the couple here along with their beautiful daughter Eufrasia a few years ago, and since then, the couple has been perfectly integrated into Borgotaro’s society. Dario, amongst other activities, joined a local choir as a bass singer, whilst Clem has been very busy, not only promoting her book (which, incidently, has aroused an enormous amount of interest), but also preparing two new manuscripts. Apparently she has unintentionally written a trilogy! A fourth book is in the works, in which she is writing about her beloved Africa.
But this dynamic lady doesn’t only write books! She is currently working as support staff at Borgotaro’s high school, assisting students with learning difficulties. It’s a job she loves, and which gives her great satisfaction. She is sought out to give talks on her homeland and its culture, for which she is always more than happy to oblige, in her direct, cheerful manner. We asked her about her plans for the future: continuing to write is definitely on her list, and… (dream big, or don’t bother!) seeing her books transformed into films would be an incredible achievement! Why not indeed…..
To this daughter of Africa, come to us through a thousand hardships, and now a highly respected member of the community, we wish all the very best: she deserves it.