Al'Mata, draftsman, cartoonist

Refugee from Democratic Republic of Congo since 2003

He was born Alain Mata Mamengi on 28 March 1970, in Kinshasa, the capital of what was then Congo-Kinshasa. Hailing from a country that is the leading producer of comic books in Central Africa, he developed an interest for the genre at a very young age. After his schooling, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts and graduated in 1992 with a degree in Graphic Arts.

At the age of 21, he was hired as a cartoonist for the daily newspaper L'Observateur and became the artistic director two years later. His work primarily consisted of drawings for the press, notably working for newspapers such as L'Alerte, Le Grognon and Le Palmarès. Al'Mata is one of his pseudonyms.

At some point, his cartoons and comic strips were deemed subversive, leading him to fear persecution in his country. In 1994, one of his drawings on Marshal Mobutu was deemed humiliating and Le Palmarès newspaper, which featured the drawing, was closed down while Alain Mata Mamengi had to live in hiding for several months. He was later arrested in late 1998 by Laurent-Désiré Kabila's regime and released in February 1999 thanks to media pressure. In 2001, he was questioned about his comic strip Kadogo (child soldier), which was considered subversive. Arrested at the start of July 2001, he was tortured while being held in custody and owes his release only to his health status. He then went on to live in hiding from December 2001. In February 2002, he took advantage of an invitation to take part in the La Bulle de Nevers comic book festival to leave the country using a borrowed passport. He was recognised as a refugee by Ofpra in May 2003.

Today, Al' Mata, renowned as a cartoonist, participates in numerous festivals and often addresses the theme of inclusion in his comics, such as in Le retour au pays d’Alphonse Madiba, dit Daudet (The homecoming of Alphonse Madiba a.k.a. Daudet). Al'Mata is a regular contributor to Afro Bulles (Afro Bubbles), a member of the L'Afrique Dessinée (Drawing Africa) collective and collaborated on the album L'Afrique en partage (Sharing Africa), published by the Dapper museum in 2014.