Do you hear what I hear?

In the second half of the last century, one persistent and irreversible trend was decolonisation. Or rather, not quite irreversible – France has managed to buck the trend by making Mayotte a French department in 2011. Why? When talking to people here, the question arises often and no real consensus emerges. One answer often put forward, though, is Big Ears. This is the name given to two large radar dishes on Petite Terre, operated by the military, protected by high wire fences and forbidden to all cameras.

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Big Ears is jointly run by the DGSE (Direction Générale de Sécurité Extérieur) and the BND (Bundesnachichtendienst), the German secret service. Compared to the NSA, they’re minnows, but by adding the Mayotte ears to those already installed in the Dordogne in France and Kourou in French Guyana, they’re able to cover a large part of the globe. How reassuring to know we’re being listened to – all for our own good, of course.

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