Rabat- Yesterday, the “Malian Spiderman” Mamoudou Gassama, accompanied by his father, met Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Gassama earned his nickname May 26 in Paris, when he scaled a tall fence and the side of an apartment building to save a four-year-old child dangling from the fourth floor balcony. The boy, left unattended, had apparently fallen from a higher balcony, and managed to grasp onto the railing below.
President Keita thanked Gassama for his heroic act, saying “At a moment when… only one person could make the decision, it was you who made it. Of that, we are very proud.
The 22-year-old Gassama left Mali in 2013, crossing the Sahara through Burkina Faso, Niger, and Libya, to eventually take one of the many boats from Libya that attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.
He arrived to Italy in 2014 but continued his journey to reach his brother, who has been living in France for a number of years. Since his arrival, he had been living in France as an irregular immigrant.
Gassama had been living in shoddy migrant lodgings in Montreuil, an area in eastern Paris, with his brothers and cousins. That fateful day, however, has opened a new door of opportunity for the young migrant.
After the rescue, French President Emmanuel Macron, met the young man at Elysee Palace to discuss his heroics.
“I didn’t have to think, I ran across the road to go and save him,” Gassama said. “I just climbed up and thank God, God helped me. The more I climbed the more I had the courage to climb higher, that’s it.”
In reward for his selfless act, Macron gave Gassama an award for his service, made him a naturalized French citizen, and offered him a job with the French fire service.
Since he has returned to Mali to meet President Keita, Gassama has had a hero’s welcome. However on June 28, he is due back in France to sign his employment contract.
Gassama joins the ranks of another Malian migrant to France, Lassana Bithily, who saved 6 people during a terrorist attack in January 2015.
For years, migrants from Africa have been pouring into Europe to find better opportunities. This year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 49,570 have arrived in Europe, and 792 have died attempting the perilous journey.