A city in west Africa

A city in West Africa

lies in the westernmost country

in the westernmost part of that country.

Capital city, Dakar.

Two hours drive south,

A tiny town.

With donkeys everywhere,

carts attached to their backs.

Donkeys and horses drinking,

out of the same well that the people do.



A place where it’s rare to see a white person.

All the streets look the same.

Walls of buildings or walls surrounding buildings.

White paint becomes darker everyday

Over the white paint and the dirt,

are words.

Red paint, black paint.

lonely words, and paragraphs.

People ignore, people write.


“Je suis pas Charlie.”

“Non Charlie.”

They stand out more than the others do,

and it’s written more times.

About 2400 miles away,

people know about it, the people killed,


For no reason,

other than speaking their mind.

Charlie Hebdo.

A symbol for freedom of speech.

“Je suis Charlie”


across the world.

People don’t have Twitter in Senegal,

but they still know.


They change it,

they add the ‘pas’

because they are not Charlie.

They don’t have freedom of speech.

They aren’t heard.  

Forced to do things they don’t want to

because they are so desperate,

they will do anything,

to have food,



They think about the moment.

What they can do to get by.


Houses get built

by teenagers who are forced.

No architect or contractor.

No safety.   

Twelve 17-year-olds

with just themselves, piles of sand,

and only a pulley system to help.  

24 hours, 7 days a week.

Barely paid.

It’s manual labor.

They provide for their families.

No choice.

They’re the ones writing on those walls.