Karibu Maore? by Marion Joly 

1 – 10 November 2019

Introduction:  Karibu Maore?

Mayotte in French, or Maore in Shimaore, is an overseas department and region of France officially named the Department of Mayotte (French: Département de Mayotte). It consists of a main island, Grande-Terre (or Maore), a smaller island, Petite-Terre (or Pamanzi), and several islets around these two. Mayotte is part of the Comoros archipelago, located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa, between northwestern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique. The department status of Mayotte is recent and the region remains, by a significant margin, the poorest in France. Mayotte is nevertheless much more prosperous than the other countries of the Mozambique Channel, making it a major destination for illegal immigration.

Mayotte’s area is 374 square kilometres (144 sq mi) and, with its 270,372 people according to January 2019 official estimates, is very densely populated at 723 per km2 (1,872 per sq mi). The biggest city and prefecture is Mamoudzou on Grande-Terre. However, the Dzaoudzi–Pamandzi International Airport is located on the neighbouring island of Petite-Terre. The territory is also known as Maore, the native name of its main island, especially by advocates of its inclusion in the Union of the Comoros.

Although, as a department, Mayotte is now an integral part of France, the majority of the inhabitants do not speak French as a first language, but a majority of the people around 14 years and older report in the census that they can speak French (with varying levels of fluency). The language of the majority is Shimaore, a Sabaki language closely related to the varieties in the neighbouring Comoros islands. The second most widely spoken native language is Kibushi, a Malagasy language

The island was populated from neighbouring East Africa with later arrival of Arabs, who brought Islam. A sultanate was established in 1500. In the 19th century, Mayotte was conquered by Andriantsoly, former king of Iboina on Madagascar, and later by the neighbouring islands Mohéli and then Anjouan before being purchased by France in 1841. The people of Mayotte voted to remain politically a part of France in the 1974 referendum on the independence of the Comoros. From 1976 into the 21st century, Mayotte had a special status with France as a collectivité territoriale (territorial collectivity), conceived as being midway between an overseas territory and an overseas département. Its status was changed to collectivité départementale (departmental collectivity) in 2001 and then to overseas département in 2011. Mayotte’s status as an administrative unit of France has been disputed by Comoros, which has claimed Mayotte since Comoros’s declaration of independence from France in 1975. Since visas to enter Mayotte were introduced in 1995, thousands of islanders fromGrande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli have drowned trying to get there.They largely travel in small boats known as kwasa-kwasa, which are prone to capsizing on the 70-kilometre journey from Anjouan to Mayotte. As a result of massive illegal immigration from neighboring islands, 48% of the population are foreign nationals, but most of them have been legally residing in the country since their arrival.

 Economic activity is based primarily on the agricultural sector, including fishing and livestock raising. Mayotte is not self-sufficient and must import a large portion of its food requirements, mainly from France. The economy and future development of the island are heavily dependent on French financial assistance, an important supplement to GDP. Mayotte’s remote location is an obstacle to the development of tourism.

The new department is facing enormous problems and challenges: in 2019, with an annual population growth of 3.8%, half the population is less than 17 years old. Most of them live in an economically precarious conditions, and the considerable presence, in terms of numbers, of non-national unaccompanied minors is a matter of concern.  Unemployment reaches 35% and 84% of the inhabitants live below the official poverty line. 

The French government announced an emergency plan last year following weeks of street protests against increasing violence, illegal immigration, high unemployment and an economic crisis. But action on the ground is slow. In this context of great tension, the inhabitants, especially the youth still struggle to survive and hope for better times.


About the Artist: Marion Joly

French, 1984, FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER working with several organizations and NGOs since 2012

CROIX ROUGE INTERNATIONALE / Comoro Islands 10.09 to 10/10 2019/ Health Care Emergency
SOS Villages d’Enfants (with DHL Germany) / Madagascar, 07/2019 / Health Care and Education
Fondation CIMADE / Mayotte, 2018 and 2019 / Immigration and Poverty Doctors Without Borders / Mayotte, 2017 and 2018 / Health Care and Environmental Awarness

NGO ATINA / Serbia, 04/2017 / Women empowermentHealth Care and Environmental Issues

Baan Unrak Foundation / Thailand, 03/2016 to 04/2016 / Children Health Care and Shelter

Fondation RISE ABOVE / Philippines, 05/2016 to 07/2016) Health Care and Education

CEDHA GANA / Spain, 2015 / Immigration and Poverty

OXFAM / Cambodia, 11/2014 / Informal Workers Campaign

E.C.C (Elephant Conservation Center) / Laos PRD, 10/2014 / Wild Life Conservation

Fondation PUSE / Sénégal, 10/2013 au 12/2013 / Education and Healthcare

PAH(Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca)/ Spain, 2012) Right to Shelter

I am also leading PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS and I am a FRENCH TEACHER since 2010



2018 Visa Pour l’Image Ol: “Karibu Maoré” in Perpignan
2017 Visu Pour l’Imuye OFF in Perpignan
2015 Relratem La Ciutat Collective in Barcelona
2014 Angkor Festival (Slide Show) in Siem Reap



2012 Master of Photojournalism and Documentary in la UAB (Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona)
2010 Licenciate Degree in FLE (French Teacher) in Grenoble University Stendhal III



French (Native) / Spanish (C1) / English (B1)



6 bis rue Laza
97610 Dzaoudzi (Mayotte)
(+262)6 39 27 46 55