African American Studies
Interviewer: Mark Naison
Interviewees: Lassana Fofana, Bandiogou Magassa
Summarized By: Eddie Mikus
Lassana Fofana and Bandiogou Magassa are two immigrants to the Bronx from the African country of Mal. Their story stands as an example of the challenges that immigrants face when arriving in a new country.
Fofana and Magassa grew up in a rural part of Mali which did not have electricity or television. Fofana attended school in Mali up until the ninth grade while Magassa attended through the 12th grade (although Magassa enrolled in Martin Luther King High School after arriving in the United States). Magassa cited the presence of family in America, as he has a brother who had previously emigrated from Mali to the United States.
Both men faced important challenges in integrating themselves into American society. Neither knew how to speak English upon entering the United States. Additionally, Fofana stated that the concept of storing food in a refrigerator was not familiar to Africans, who like to eat food fresh. Each man was also assigned to a low-wage job in the United States, as Fofana worked in a paper factory and Magassa worked as a custodian at a school. However, both men were able to locate themselves in the Highbridge area of the Bronx, a neighborhood that had a high concentration of Mailian immigrants living in it.
Magassa, Bandiougou and Lassana Fofana. May 14, 2008. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham University.
Click below to download supplemental content.Magassa, Bandiougou and Lassama Fofana Part 1.mp3 (105680 kB)
Magassa, Bandiougou and Lassama Fofana Part 2.mp3 (1814 kB)