One Thing Young People Need

Last week we were in Rome to film an interview with an astonishing young graphic novelist who enlightened us on one thing that all young people need.

Takoua Ben Mohamed

Takoua is a well-known Italian graphic novelist originally born in Tangeri. I have met her and her brothers in the Pigneto, Rome. The Pigneto is one of those neighbourhoods borderlines between fascination and danger, gentrification and inequality. In one of the alley just off via del Pigneto sits the Association Fivizzano 27 that hosts a theatre space and the company founded by the Ben Mohameds.

Takoua is late for our appointment but I don’t even notice it as I am delighted to discover a world of entrepreneurs of migrants origins, I had no idea it existed. And most of all I had no confidence the age range would be this low. Takoua herself is 27.

Second generation: a term you might not know

Probably the expression “second generation” makes no sense to people outside of Italy. So just to make it clearer, second generations are called those who were born in Italy but from parents who migrated to the country. Technically, the term is incorrect as it would refer to the second generation of migrants. Nevertheless, it simplifies the political and mediatic conversations.

When growing up in a small town near Rome, my sister and I were often the only ones with a (visible) migratory background and of course, we couldn’t make friends with many people “like us”. We did not feel represented in the media, nor in the professional worlds. This might be one of the reasons why our parents pushed us so much to be better. They charged us with motivation and strengths despite what everyone in the outside world said. And they had much to say: from insults to verbal abuses, to threats and diminishing expressions. Being different was seen either as a threat or a twisted fascination. Likely our parents gave us the one thing every young person needs.

Takoua’s success

Taokua was the one person to remind me of what young people need. I have filmed an interview in Rome with her in preparation for our two months dedicated to entrepreneurs of migratory background. She said:

Older generations need to help young people believing in themselves.

Don’t you agree? Sometimes a “You can do it!” is all you need. And thankfully Takoua received those, although later in her life apparently. That’s how she was able to publish “Sotto il Velo” (Under the veil), a graphic novel where her comic alter ego moves her way in a society where having a veil has become the synonym of terrorism or oppression.

But Takoua doesn’t seem oppressed: she seems to finally know herself and like her book, she is witty, frank, passionate! I’ll be looking forward to her next publication.

The video about Takoua will be released on Friday 12th of January on Balobeshayi Vimeo channel, sign up for our newsletter to receive it as soon as it is online. There are more video, interviews and FB live events coming up in the next two months 😉



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