She defines herself as a “warrior” and wants to “make noise” at the Bourbon palace: spokesperson for the long strike of the chambermaids of the Ibis Batignolles, Rachel Kéké intends to push the doors of the Assembly to bring the voice of the “invisible” workers.

Aged 47 and with a career full of trials that clash in the political world, the Franco-Ivorian is a legislative candidate for Nupes in the 7th constituency of Val-de-Marne.

She is undoubtedly the most emblematic of the figures from the trade union and association struggles that the left-wing coalition intends to put forward in these elections.

“That’s what I call a mass leader,” said LFI deputy Eric Coquerel of her.

“She has something that magnetizes, she is strong, she has the right words, she does not need to read” during her speeches, he unfolds.

It was during the 22 months of the chambermaids’ strike at the Ibis Batignolles hotel in Paris, during which Rachel Kéké carried the demands of her colleagues, that Eric Coquerel met her.

Between 2019 and 2021, this CGT activist mobilized to improve the wages and working conditions of cleaning women in the face of “contempt” from management.

“She’s a real fighter, when we met her as part of this strike she very quickly asserted herself as a representative of her colleagues”, explains Claude Lévy, representative of the CGT-HPE (Prestigious and Economic Hotels ), full of praise for this “self-taught wrestler”.

This hotel in front of which Rachel Kéké began to carve out a union and political reputation, she continued to work there during the beginning of her campaign before taking a leave to devote herself fully to the legislative elections.

“It’s a job that destroys the body. There are carpal tunnel syndromes, tendinitis, back pain …”, she explains to AFP, still remembering this feeling, ” as if [him] had been kicked everywhere”, after his first day as a cleaning lady, in 2003.

“But I told myself that I had to take my courage in both hands, for my children,” she recalls.

Mother of five children, Rachel Kéké was born in 1974 in the town of Abobo, north of Abidjan, to a mother who sold clothes and a father who was a bus driver.

At the age of 12, when her mother died, she found herself in charge of her brothers and sisters.

She arrived in France in 2000 and started working as a hairdresser before entering the hotel industry.

In France, her career is chaotic: she moves often, alternating between squats or friends’ apartments in the Paris suburbs, before settling thanks to the DAL (Droit au logement).

Naturalized French in 2015 – a country she “loves” and for which her grandfather had fought during the Second World War – she now lives in Les Sorbiers, a city of Chevilly-Larue (Val-de-Marne) from where she launched her campaign for the legislative elections.

With always the same message: “shake the coconut tree” at the Assembly.

“We are not rebels, we just want our dignity,” she said to the cheers of 200 friends and activists who came to support her.

The one who defines herself as “feminist” and “defender of yellow vests”, parried possible attacks on her lack of training.

“If you speak to me with the French of Sciences Po, I will answer you as a suburbanite!”, She warned.

“We know the level of a chambermaid, we know that I don’t have a Bac 5”, she explained to AFP the day before. “I say what I feel. If someone asks me a question about something I don’t understand, I won’t answer. The media have to get used to that.”

“She has everything to learn from a political point of view”, details Hadi Issahnane, LFI municipal councilor of Chevilly-Larue, but “she can teach a lot of real life things to a lot of politicians”.

Co-leader of this constituency, it was he who proposed to Rachel Kéké to be a legislative candidate.

“We are not far from an icon, in the literal sense, of our political fight. She embodies that in a natural way”.

25/05/2022 19:11:21 – Chevilly-Larue (France) (AFP) – © 2022 AFP