About 350,000 Comorans live abroad

Moroni- Comoros (PANA) -- About 350,000 Comorans live abroad, 200,000 of them in France alone, according to a survey financed by the World Bank and carried out on behalf of the General Commission of Planning as part of the search for new means of combating poverty.
In France, the Comoran community "remains concentrated around the five major centres of Marseille/Aix, Paris, Lyon, Nice and Dunkirk, and is experiencing demographic changes with social implications related to the coming of age of a second and a third generation born in France," the document added.
The first Comoran communities settled in Europe following the two world wars in which Comorans took part as "Senegalese infantry men," the report noted.
Some of the "infantry men" chose to stay in France and formed the first nuclei that later welcomed Comoran newcomers.
Subsequently, "following the traditional scheme of overseas settlement, Comoran seamen working in the merchant marine settled in port cities - Dunkirk, Marseille, Le Havre - and then spread to other French cities such as Lyon and Paris.
" Later still, the absence of a university in Comoros fostered the emigration of thousands of young students, notably to Madagascar, Reunion and Marseille.
The authors of the survey noted that, in the decade following Comoran independence, French authorities encouraged immigration from the archipelago.
"Thus, the Comoran community in France swelled in the first ten years after independence," they wrote.
Comorans are seasoned travellers, and they have been present on the West African coast, in Madagascar and in Reunion for centuries.
They are also present in the Middle-East, in Francophone Africa and now in North America.
"The difficulty of travelling to France did not only impact on trade - to the benefit of the Arab Emirates - but also led to the scattering of Comoran students who, in addition to traditional universities, are now studying in Francophone Africa and in the Arab world," the report said, describing the phenomenon as a "quest for a new promised land.
" One of the prime reasons for emigration is the "Great Wedding," a tradition which enables a resident of Grande Comore to obtain a high status in society, even though at a very high cost.
After the "Great Wedding", the man gets the title of Great Notable or "Mdrou Mdzima," which is an honour for a Comoran.
Any Comoran who wants a high status in society has to have a "Great Wedding," which enables him to be a leader, a judge, a decision-maker, and be served like a king.
Consequently, the large majority of the Comoran Diaspora comes from Grande Comore, the island where the institution of the "Great Wedding" is the most honoured.
On the contrary, emigration is a marginal phenomenon on the island of Anjouan, the report said, adding that Anjouan migrants mainly go to Mayotte, and that Anjouan settlers in France integrate more easily into French culture.

14 august 2003 13:19:00

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