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« on: December 04, 2020, 02:27:36 PM »

Supervisor does not want to exchange Emmen for palace and four women in Benin

Supervisor in Emmen or king in Benin? It is not such a difficult choice for Mohammed Baparape Ali. He goes for the first option.

Baparape Ali has been working for three years as a supervisor at the Rensenpark in Emmen, the former zoo in the center of the city. With pleasure. "I love this work and talking to people," he tells RTV Drenthe.

People also like 'Mo' as he is affectionately known. "He has become the face of the Rensen Park", says Joop Reilman, a friend of the supervisor. "He is social, cheerful and enthusiastic and everyone is happy with him. He brings the human dimension back to the park."

But his time as a supervisor is almost over. His annual contract has been extended twice and that is why he will soon have to make way for someone else.

Heir to the throne in Benin
If Baparape wants Ali, he doesn't have to be without a job for long. He says that he can become king in his native country Benin. "His uncle died for two weeks and he is the heir to the throne. When he said that, my jaw fell open in surprise," says Reilman.

Different peoples live in Benin, west of Nigeria. Some of them have a king, such as the Bariba people to which Baparape Ali originally belongs. "You have to see that as a kind of chieftains," says Africa correspondent Koert Lindijer. "There are many of them in Africa and they have a lot of authority among the population. They kneel for them."

According to Lindijer, going from supervisor to African king is not such a strange step. "There are kings who used to sell fish and chips in London."

Yet Baparape Ali - who came to the Netherlands to work years ago with his handicapped son and now has the Dutch nationality - does not like to take the throne.

"I am happy here in the Netherlands", says the prince. "I have four wives in Benin, but when I become king I will just sit in my palace and everything will be arranged for me. I am 100 percent Dutch and I want to stay here", says the prince.

Friend Reilman has no doubts about Baparape Ali's story. "He is not a man to tell fantasy stories. I also believe that of those four women, because he always comes back very tired when he has been in Benin."

Baparape Ali is under no obligation to become king in his native country. "If I wait long enough, they will crown someone else king. Only when that person has passed is my turn again. So I hope that will take a very long time."

He does go to Benin to attend his uncle's funeral, but Reilman thinks he will just come back afterwards. "I know him well enough now and talk to him often. I don't think he will stay there."

Petition started
Back in the Netherlands, he will be out of work in the short term and would have to live on benefits. Reilman wants Baparape Ali to remain supervisor and he therefore started a signature campaign together with others.

That petition has now been signed about four hundred times. "We are in discussion with the municipality of Emmen," says Reilman. "Hope it pays off."

Emmen, a city in the Dutch province of Drenthe:,_Netherlands


The Bariba people
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