Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, has become a household name in France. They call him the Spiderman of Paris.
Mamoudou never considered himself a hero. He grew up in Mali, an African country riddled with poverty, famine, and war.
Mamoudou sought to find a better life elsewhere. He crossed the Sahara desert with some fellow refugees. The journey was hard and risky, but the small group made it to Libya. Unfortunately, the authorities arrested them and sent them home to Mali.
Returning to the war and the horror of his country made Mamoudou more determined to flee. He hopped on a boat to the Italian coast. The trip could have cost him his life, but he survived.
Mamoudou arrived in Italy in 2014 as an illegal immigrant. He did not receive a warm welcome. Nevertheless, he managed to survive in the country like a ghost without any rights or protection for four years.
Aged 22, Mamoudou made the trip to France to be reunited with his brothers. Being with his own flesh and blood was a great comfort for Mamoudou. Even so, the life of an illegal immigrant is notoriously difficult in France.
One fateful day in Paris, he was walking along the street when he noticed a crowd staring up at a high-rise apartment in horror. Following their gaze, he saw a terrified toddler hanging on to the edge of a balcony for dear life.
The gathered French citizens were frozen. They feared the worst. Mamoudou knew the child wouldn’t be able to hold on until the emergency services arrived.
Being an illegal immigrant, Mamoudou knew it was better to keep his head down, but when he saw a child in danger, he didn’t hesitate to step forward.
Mamoudou began to climb the exterior of the building. The bystanders’ jaws dropped as he climbed several floors of balconies. He did so at an amazing pace. The crowd’s shock quickly turned to cheers of encouragement.
In 30 seconds, Mamoudou climbed four stories and pulled the youngster to safety. The crowd erupted in a wave of applause and tears of joy. In that instant Mamoudou, the illegal immigrant had become Mamoudou, the superhero.
Since that day Mamoudou has been granted French citizenship for his bravery. He has also found employment with the Paris firefighters.
Mamoudou remains humble about his heroic deeds. The man from Mali said, “I didn’t think about it. I climbed up and God helped me.”