3 July 2018

Malian 'Spider-Man' Joins Paris Fire Department

The immigrant from Mali, dubbed "Spider-Man" after he scaled a Paris apartment building to save a young boy dangling from a balcony, has begun working for the city's fire department.

Mamoudou Gassama, 22, captured international attention when he scaled four stories of a building's exterior to save a 4-year-old boy who had managed to climb over a balcony and was dangling above a street.

At the time, VOA's Bambara service interviewed Gassama, who described what happened. He said he and his girlfriend had just ordered food when he saw a crowd gathering outside.

"Before we start eating, I saw the crowd outside. Some people were screaming, drivers were honking. I went outside and I saw the kid hanging on the fourth floor," he told VOA. "Thank God I was able to run up there to save him. ... When I started going up, I got more courage to go save him.

After he reached the child, and police pulled them both into a room, "I [started] shaking and couldn't stand on my feet. I was so shaken for what I did," Gassama said.

Soon after a video of Gassama's heroic deed went viral on social media, he was invited to meet with President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace.

Macron offered the undocumented immigrant French citizenship, awarded him a gold medal for courage and suggested he become a firefighter.

Gassama told VOA that he asked the French leader for help.

"I told him I left Mali through Burkina Faso, Niger and went through Sahara. Then I arrived in Libya, where I spent some time trying to find my way to Italy," he said. "The first time I tried to take a boat, I was caught by authorities and was put in jail and then deported back to Niger. I tried a second time. Thank God, I made it to Italy."

"I pray [to] God to help other migrants the same way He helped me. Whoever is migrant, I pray for him to be successful. Those who are in the Sahara desert, may God help them go through. Those who are at sea, may God help them arrive safely," Gassama told VOA.

Macron, who has supported a bill to tighten France's immigration law, has said there is no disparity between rewarding Gassama for his act of bravery and holding firm on immigration.

Mali

Three Predictions About Mali's 2018 Presidential Election

It is hard to see how anything good, or different, will come from Mali's election on 29 July. Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 Voice of America. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.