Citizens
Portraits of Canadian Women of African Descent
  CITIZENS...
  CURATOR'S
THOUGHTS
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Emma Mbia
Extrait sonore

Ancestors
ANCESTORS

"A few months before I left for Montréal, my father sent me this photo of my grandfather from Cameroon, as if to say: "We give you our blessing. Go, my daughter, we will protect you." In Montréal, I decided to unite my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather in this frame. They never met in life. Today they are both with me, close to me. I know intuitively that they are happy."


Tara as a Child
TARA AS A CHILD

"My father with his father and mother. A gem."


Emma Mbia

Immigration is a sacred story. It's an adventure filled with emotion and grief. I am in the process of living it ...

I went, in an airplane, from one continent to another. I cannot stop thinking of those who leave their home on a raft, often risking their life. That deeply upsets me. I do not forget it. I am very conscious of it.

When I receive a letter, sometimes
I cry. Not from pain. From emotion.

Remarks recorded during an interview.
At the time of the interview, Emma Mbia had been living in Montreal for two months.


Emma Mbia was born in Paris. Her father is Cameroonian, and her mother of mixed heritage, with an English mother and an African-American father. She discovered Africa at the age of 11, when her father took her there during summer vacation.


"My love of Africa came about little by little. It was not immediately evident. Also, it is thanks to my father that I love this continent so much today." An education in the Sociology of Culture and in Cinema led her to conduct field studies in Cameroon. "I worked on bikutsi music and dance. It was a way to better know my culture." She feels descended from two continents, Africa and Europe. "I feel I am myself. Made from my encounters, my sensibilities. Africa is there. The West is there. I have been offended sometimes. In France, they tell you that you are black, and in Africa, that you are white. At some point, you no longer know where you live. You must go through these periods of turbulence in order to know where you position yourself. People are always putting labels on you. The most important thing is to know, yourself, where you stand." Emma lived more than 30 years in France.

In September 2004, she settled in Montreal. "I wanted to face new things. It was necessary for me to lose all my reference points and to change continents. I needed a cultural shock!" When she speaks about leaving, beginning over again, integrating into a new society, she says, "It is like a big building and you must go inside". One of her priorities is to find a job. "I worked in the arts and in research. Now I want to extend that knowledge into the world of media." For Emma, to establish herself in Canada is to live another life adventure. "I am here now. I am in the process of discovery."


My New Home
MY NEW HOME

Mfida, My Village
MFIDA, MY VILLAGE

My River, the Nyong
MY RIVER, THE NYONG

My Grandmother, Joséphine
MY GRANDMOTHER, JOSÉPHINE

Au Revoir, Pépettes
AU REVOIR, PÉPETTES

Au Revoir, Tara
AU REVOIR, TARA

The Gift
THE GIFT

Montmartre
MONTMARTRE

My Two Loves: Cameroon and Paris
MY TWO LOVES: CAMEROON AND PARIS

Love and affection from Cécile
LOVE AND AFFECTION FROM CÉCILE
Postcard 1, 2, 3