I met Christian the first day I went to Folkets Park. Apparently a van had come by and donated lots of crates with fruits – by first eyesight he offered me a piece of watermelon, I said yes and the very next moment he pulled out a stanley-knife to cut it up.
I had an hour chat with him thursday evening. He’s forty years old, comes from Nigeria but went to Spain to work in 1996. He got a job as a constructionworker, got a spanish passport and was told that he could get work anywhere within the EU. He worked at several constructionsites the following years, but due to the crisis 5 million people suddently stood without jobs. Christian was one of them, so he started to search for other options to feed himself.
”Any job a man can get” – that’s what he’s searching for. Two months ago he decided to leave Spain and went to Denmark – he was told there was jobs to get, but at different employers he was met with a negative response. Even though he’s a EU citizen, and he has papers from Spain telling him he’s allowed to work legally in EU, noone wanted to hire him.
I asked him what Folkets Park ment to him. Suddently he talked a different language. Apparently he asked for a cig from a friend – straight after he returned with a halfway smoked cigaret, burned the filter a couple of seconds to desinfect it, he answered. ”This is where I meet my friends. Take a look around. Except for the romanians, everyone here is from the black Africa. The problem is not the fact that there’s no jobs to get here. The problem is the war in Africa. Here in Folkets Park I meet up with people I share a great history and culture with.”
Christian shares an apartment with several others – living at a room by himself and pays 4000 kroner a month from a saving he did during working in Spain.
I asked him if I could take his portrait. Instantly he said no. I was confused – he wanted a more formal interview, and wanted to get published in a big newspaper. He told me he felt all clumsy being amongst the guys in Folkets Park and he wanted to get photographed wearing a suit and to get invited to my studio, with prepared questions. And coffee and tea on the table. Since I don’t have a studio, this never happened.
If anyone out there has a contact to a big newspaper, and they’d like an interview with Christian – don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll hook you up.
Words by Lasse Kofod.