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Natasa was born in Athens. She tells us that her father is from Santorini and her mother is from Kos.

My grandfather was already married with my grandmother and they already had the kids before going to Congo. He was the first to go and then the family followed. To be precise, one of his cousins was the first to go, because he was given money from his parents to go to Rhodes and get a taxi licence and while he was in the boat he met a guy who told him, what taxi, let’s go to Congo, I know people there who will immediately find a job for you. Thus, instead of writing to them from Rhodes, he wrote to them from Congo’s Lubumbashi. You know how it is – one went, then the other followed, then my grandfather also went. And now all of them have many different experiences. For instance I have an aunt that, until before she died, she would say why did we leave and come back to Greece from Congo, we were better off there. Of course, she had the more “European” experience, let’s say.

My grandmother’s siblings, on the other hand, migrated to Australia.

My mom  was from Kos and migrated to Congo between the ages of 6 and 12, the Belgian Congo. My mom went to a French school there, to the nuns, she speaks French. Her father went first and then took the whole family with him. Her father’s siblings were also there and they stayed longer too, after the riots that is. My mum, however, went back to Kos.

She explains that her mother returned to Kos because of the riots in Congo. Her grandfather’s brother stayed much longer and, as she tells us, he was like those people that we see in films, sending money from abroad, never having seen their kids or grandchildren. She narrates that, when he came back, they would talk to him in the honorific plural.

He died from sadness and chagrin because he had no ties to the place. But he stayed, because the money was really good.

My dad, as soon as he started having a hard time, he said “family first”, took them all and returned. They came back around ’63 approximately. Afterwards, my mum stayed at Kos and met my dad on that same island much later. He was from Santorini but he was studying with my mum’s brother at Sivitanidios school. My dad was born in Moschato but his family was from Santorini. They were 10 kids, my dad was the youngest and the only one born in Athens and this story is a small story of “internal migration”.

Natasa narrates that she also stayed abroad for 10 years, in Scotland, to study.

But, compared to what the previous generations went through, that  was child’s play. I missed the sun, so what.

Natasa explains that her grandfather bought the lion around 1952 – 1953, when her grandmother was still young, from locals that would make various items such as this one and sell them. She tells us that instead of dolls she had small elephants and lions like this one, which were placed in different places inside the house. She remembers this particular one always being placed on the TV. She explains that she took it for granted that all houses in Greece had these animals, until she realised that wasn’t the case. This item, as she says, symbolises the colonisation of Africa by Europeans.

Natasa closes her story by saying that she grew up seeing this item on the TV and, during every stage of her life towards adulthood, she would see it in a different light.

When you realise that this is something unusual and not all families have it in their home, and then you grow up and find out more about the story behind it, it hits you, like, wow, am I part of this?


Creator of object:
Place / Country of creation:
Year / Era of creation:
Natasa Fitrou
Type / Description of object:
Wooden lion
Object route:
Congo – Kos – Palaio Faliro
Year / Era of movement:
1952 – 1963
Reason of movement:
License of digital image:

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