Lisiane Ndong with her husband Samuel Piedagnel Elliot and their son Elliot.
“I had just arrived in the UK and was trying to make friends,” says Samuel Piedagnel Elliot, on meeting his wife Lisiane Ndong. Samuel came to London 17 years ago to study computer science, and ended up staying and working in the city. “We started by communicating online,” he continues. “One day I went up to Liverpool to meet her and since then it’s been great.”
Lisiane first moved to Liverpool 11 years ago to study business. After completing her studies at the University of Liverpool and later the University of Brighton, she joined Samuel in London. She has now been living in the city for nine years.
Lisiane now works in online advertising and marketing, while Samuel still works in the city building systems and software for the finance industry.
The pair married in France in 2013, and now have a son, Elliot, who is three and a half years old.
“For the past five years I’ve been trying to visit Gabon every two years,” says Lisiane. “I want to go more regularly for Elliot’s sake; I want him to know the other side of his heritage. It’s really important for me for him to know both sides.”
Her father still lives there, while her mother lives in France. Her siblings are divided between the two countries. She has no family in London. “Gabon is definitely still a part of my life,” she emphasises. “We’re planning on going back again this year or next,” says Samuel.
In London the Gabonese community is small: “There are perhaps about 100 of us,” says Lisiane. “But I know a few Gabonese people. Gabon is a really tiny country; there are only about 1,500,000 citizens. Most go to France because it’s a French Colony.”
On Brexit, Lisiane says, “Yes, it’s annoying, but we’re not really concerned. There will be a lot of changes but we’ll just adapt – if we have to go back to France then we will.”
“The amount of people who came to us the day after it happened just to say ‘sorry’ was overwhelming,” says Samuel. “They just wanted to say that it wasn’t them that felt that way. We live in a beautiful melting pot of nationalities in the neighbourhood. Over the years I’ve met people from many different countries and continents.”
Also from France are the the Benchoula Family, the Chandar Family, the Lopes Family, the Kamagate & Ezoua Family, the Alioune Family, the Nkoso Family, the O'Sullivan Family, and the Prokofiev Family.