A SALE musician who came to the UK alone as a child is to see his story come alive on stage.
Jean Blanchard Azip arrived in this country aged just 15.
Like many thousands of others he was escaping from instability and civil war in his native DR Congo.
“I didn’t decide to come to the UK,” said Jean. “It just happened. I didn’t really care because I had already lost everything.”
On landing at Heathrow in 1998, Jean was initially placed in B&B accommodation alongside some young Kosovan refugees. He moved to Altrincham early the following year when a family asked him to live with them.
“I’d had my Christmas dinner at theirs, as part of a scheme organised through social services,” said Jean, who was brought up Catholic. “They asked me to live with them and I said yes.”
“I liked it,” said Jean, who went on to study accounting and finance at university. “It was much better than London.”
Despite speaking five languages - Lingala, Swahili, French, English and Portuguese – Jean says he now does all his thinking in English. He speaks English to his four children as this is their mother tongue..
Though with his two eldest children starting to learn French at school, he is determined to give his youngest child a head start with one of his mother tongues.
The story of Jean and other members of Greater Manchester’s Congolese community is now being brought to life through music and song, spoken word, digital image and food at Manchester’s Band On The Wall.
* LISAPO The Congolese Tales Project is on June 28.