Seif Kousmate is one of the 25 photographers shortlisted for the 2020 CAP Prize for Contemporary African Photography.
This is the story of two friends who shared the same dream: reaching Europe, where they hope to live a better life and sustain their family. Madou and Dra met in Morocco, at Mount Gourougou, the terrestrial frontier between North Africa and Europe. Both Malians have been attempting to cross the Spanish border to reach the enclave of Melilla, from which they would be able to reach the rest of Europe.
Their lives took different turns when Dra managed to climb the border wall in May 2017 and was allowed to stay in Europe while his asylum request is being processed. Stuck in Gourougou much longer than his friend, Madou is eventually arrested and deported back to his home country of Mali.
From Mali, Madou explains his disappointment and sense of failure after having been so close to reaching his dream. As he smokes joints to numb the pain, his mind is focused on getting back there at all costs. Meanwhile, Dra experiences another kind of disappointment: the realization that Europe is not a welcoming land of opportunities. His situation is nothing but precarious. He subsists by working throughout Spain as an olive or strawberry picker, depending on the season.