For three decades now, Montreal’s “Refuge des Jeunes” has been helping young men aged 17 to 25, in difficulty and without shelter, through various initiatives in the field. To date, more than 150 artists and groups have performed at the Show du Refuge, which has raised $ 7 million for young people. This Charitable organization celebrated it’s 30th. anniversary at this year’s show without an audience, thanks to COVID-19. At 8 pm Sunday December 13th in an adapted format, which was solely dependent on the high caliber of the artists, the “Show du Refuge” was presented on Canadian ICI Télé. One of the renown artists who performed is the Cameroonian born, Canadian Maka Kotto. Also, from this week, every Monday he will be columnist in the widely read newspaper of Quebec, “Le Journal de Montreal”.
Kotto is my profile of the week.
Actually, born Léopold-Marcel Kotto Maka, in September,1961 in Douala Cameroon, Maka arrived in Quebec in 1990, after having lived for several years in France, where he studied law, politics and drama at university. In France as an actor, he is said to have dropped Leopold-Marcel from his name, although some intimate relatives who have known him through the years call him “Leo” to this day. He is said to have preferred “Maka Kotto” simply because it sounded truly African, and the addition “Leopold Marcel” just took something from it.
If you have been following his carrier as an actor, you will know that he has acted in more than 40 films. Actor, author and director, he is known for “Voyage à Ouaga” (2001), La Conciergerie (1997) and Beaumarchais (1996). He is also known for his involvement in various causes and movements, including the Vues d’Afrique festival. He is very much in the debate when minority issues are concerned. In answering a question in the digital version of the Canadian “Le Soleil” newspaper, he had this to say about the attitude of the immigrant towards the position of some citizens of Quebec who talk about sovereignty, “the immigrant is loyal to the symbolism that has influenced his entire journey, Quebec has no structure to respond to federal competition. […] It takes a lot of willpower for adopted Quebecers to take the step towards the sovereigntist movement”.
But wait, Maka is a former Minister of Culture and Communications and former Member of Parliament, both in the National Assembly and in the House of Commons making him the first African recent immigrant to rise to such political heights in the politics of Quebec. He is beholden to the politics if his adopted homeland and continues the fight against injustice and minority rights. He remains, even after leaving parlement and government, a very respected voice in Quebec and a person of reference on these issues. It is certain that the new wave of racial consciousness that swept Canada’s neighbor the USA must have seen him in the front row of many debates following the call by the Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau for a re-examination of attitudes as regards all racial issues.
Maka, is Canadian and follows very keenly what is happening on his country of origin Cameroon, in which a four-year civil strife is raging in the South-West and North-West regions. The country should very much consider the expertise and advice of Maka who has first-hand experience and knowledge of how to manage minority rights anchored in differences in culture and language inherited from a colonial past.
Jurist, Politician, Actor, Writer, social mover and shaker Maka Kotto is indeed a “Boy Wonder”, and my inspiring profile of the week.