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Nigerian born on migrant ship becomes Eurovision contest star


A baby born on a migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean last year will take centre stage at the Eurovision Song Contest in May with a French entry inspired by the story of her birth.

French duo Madame Monsieur were picked on Saturday ,January 27 to represent the country at the glitzy talent competition with a song called “Mercy” , named after the baby girl.

The band was in the recording studio when they saw a picture of Mercy posted on Twitter.

“We were completely overwhelmed and as we were in the middle of the writing process we thought ‘This is a beautiful story to tell,’” band member Emilie Satt said.

She noted “The only thing song is fighting for is the human. Because what is this song about? It’s about solidarity, hope, kindness, the miracle of birth. Of course it’s about Mercy’s story but it’s not a song which only talks about refugees, it’s a song about love, about life and hope.”

Though not the favourite, the duo was picked by a French television audience to represent the country against the odds, training a spotlight on Europe’s migrant crisis.

“I think we were moved by this story of hope among hopelessness, that’s what’s interesting. The symbolism was very strong. A birth in the middle of a tragedy like that moved us and that’s the story we wanted to tell,” Jean -Karl Lucas, a member of ‘‘Madame Monsieur’‘ said.

In the last two years, NGO SOS Mediterranee has picked up more than 28,000 people fleeing war and poverty attempting to reach Europe, including Mercy’s mother Taiwo, originally from Nigeria.

Heavily pregnant when she was rescued, she gave birth to the baby on March 21, 2017 as the ship that rescued them, the Aquarius, entered the port of Catania in Sicily.

“She (Mercy’s mother) was lying on the floor and she was in labour. So me and the midwife Elizabeth took care of her and four hours later she delivered a perfect baby girl called Mercy,” recalled Martina Svensson ,a nurse who held deliver Mercy.

The boss of the NGO’s French division, Francis Vallat, said he was proud that the French public had chosen the song.

“It may show some countries whose people are more narrow-minded, even though they’re less exposed to migration than countries in the south, that they are involved too, it’s a human problem, simple as that,” he said.

Madame Monsieur say the song is not overtly political and simply tells a human story.

The final of the Eurovision Song Contest is set to take place in Lisbon on May 12.

Before that, the duo will release their album “Vu d’ici” (“Seen from here”) in April.

The last time France won first place in the contest was in 1977.

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