Our Lost Kids

I am him and he is me. For he is someone’s child, as I am, for he came from love because he is God’s child, as I am, for he is 8 years old, as I was, and he is sitting in a country where I grew up, our dear Sénégal. He is one amongst 30,000 to 50,000 “Talibés” as we call them in Sénégal, descending the streets of the big cities, as early as 6 am, all dressed like him or sometimes worst, with no shoes, begging for some food and some money.

I grew up with my brother who is 2 years younger than me, with them in Sénégal, and we will see them at the bus stops , the front of our schools and overtime we even befriended a lot them because we will always share our snacks with them or our little bitty money we will be given by my mom. It was sad then and it is worst now. Because the ones that we grew up with , are all adults now and for some of them unfortunately the streets has been and will always be they place. But we went from 10,000 in the 90’s to 50,000 as of 2017.

I just got back from a 2 months trip there and my heart was broken every single time I will step out of the house. I avoided bakeries because it was the most painful of all the places, for some reason I could not picture myself getting out of there with my boxes of goodies , and a dozen pair of eyes will be looking at me. But most importantly , I would have just spent $25 to $50 like it was a given , knowing pertinently that the money could have fulfilled all of their daily quota. They are to bring back a set amount of money every day if they don’t want to be beaten, or killed. The ones that get away without being sexually abuse are the lucky ones.

I am just one voice, and I am theirs.

WE NEED HELP !! They didn’t ask to be born, to be abandoned or given away, and they certainly didn’t ask to have this miserable life that they have been force to leave for more than three decades now.

We have locals charities that I would love to help raise money so I have set up a GoFundMe campaign that I will be sharing at the bottom of my post. The money will be use to make sure none of them will be walking without shoes on an empty stomach.

Please even if you cannot donate any money , would you please take the time to read about me, think about me, talk about me and may be just may be , I won’t be a lost child anymore. God bless you and may God bless us all with compassion and human kindness.

https://www.gofundme.com/our-lost-kids?pc=ot_co_dashboard_a&rcid=0416df05346840e2b37c52b2e5d1b7f3

#onelove #oneworld #ourkids #metoo #lovesenegal #betterliving

I am a blessing still

My mom would always say that she still wonders how they even went on a first date since he wasn’t speaking french, let alone Woloff the national dialect, and she certainly didn’t speak English accept singing James brown or Michael jackson lol.

She went to the dinner with her cousin and best friend, who luckily for my mom had stayed in school and had learn to speak English. She will became my godmother, she will give me my name. When my father decide to marry my mom, he told my mom that after 4 years he would be going back home to the USA with her and children if they had any, but it was made clear by his parents that they could not accept his wife or kids. On my mother side, her family didn’t accept the proposition and didn’t bother to show up either. It was my parents, my godmother and her sister who was with her husband my Dad’s only friends.

As my mom would recall my Dad from that moment never let anyone belittled her, threatened her and that when I was born he kicked out many of her family members and friends. Like father, like daughter. If people that you love and care about are not with you when the hard times hit, the the good times can be shared either with them.

I was 2 years when they welcomed a baby boy, and because my godmother made fun of him at the hospital saying that her daughter ,me, was way more beautiful than the boy and my dad decided to give him her name. Thank you it was Andrée for her so André for him. When my brother turned 6 months, my Dad received some disturbing news from his family about his oldest daughter who went for taking drugs and hanging out with gangs. My mom remembers my father sleepless night, his tears, and his decision to move back home and be close to her. My mom who had never traveled told my father that she wasn’t ready to live in a country where for all she knew was going to reject her just like his family did. It was decided that I will be going with my father and that, may be seeing me, might have change his family’s mind.

The passport was done and the date was set for October 18th 1976.

Octobre 13th 1976 started like any other day, with my father heading to the embassy and my mom dropping me to the daycare and going to the market. She spend the day with my godmother getting their hair braided and shopping for our departures, my father and I. My father came home around 5, took a glass of JB like everyday after work, and took me out on my bike with our dog lily. When we came back, my mom said we found her sitting on the front porch and as I was playing with my Dad , a dove came flying in and my mom turned to my him asking for the word, I rolled my eyes at her and said ” come on mommy ! It is a bird”, and my mom remembered telling my dad that she was going to start going to school for English classes before I sell her out. Lol

She started dinner at 7 and my father when to lay on the bed , watching tv while waiting for it, and I was jumping on my father’s belly, when and this is me talking, and believe it or not, I can still see myself jumping on it, I remember him trying to reach for something on the table, and next thing you know we were both on the floor, on the side of the bed. When my mom came to tell us that dinner was ready, she found him on the floor and me crying and asking my dad to get up. She started getting mad at him for scaring me but when she stepped inside the room and saw my father laying there with his eyes rolled over the back of his head, she knew that her husband had left her and his children behind. She lost it, started screaming and leaving me in the room, ran outside , barefoot, alerting the neighbors. Lily our dog ran after her and was struck by a cab driver unfortunately. I hope she his protecting him for me.

When his family was made aware of the tragedy, they first ask the embassy to do an autopsy to make sure he wasn’t murder, which came back saying that he had an aneurysm, and after my mom fought with them to have him buried in Senegal, they send her a letter that I still read today, wishing her the best in life with her children and that they had sent 500$ to help her for the future. That was the last we ever heard from any of my father’s family. Their loss not ours.

The next four years of my life will go from bad to worst, as doors kept on being shut in our faces when my mom will seek shelter, the excuse being we were half-white and catholics, my godmother was still a college student, so her sister took us in for 3 years, without my mom because of the lack of room. My aunt struggled, being a divorced woman by then with 3 little kids, but it never stopped her from taking me and my brother while my mom was looking for work. Why we decide to leave after and move with my mom’s family, I don’t know but I was to learn really soon, how different I was from the other little kids, how I will be make fun off, pushed aside. It is amazing how at a young age, we already see our differences and instead of understanding and embracing it , we reject it and fight it.

My world went black went at 7 years old, I was repeatedly raped for months by a member of my family, being only rescued by my aunt when she heard me screaming 2 nights on the row. I have made peace with it , as I forgave him the day we were confronted in front of the whole family, and he denied it.

But now I have decided to speak up about abuse in my country Senegal. All around me, people are starting to come out and share they me too stories and they are only horror stories. I stopped crying when a couple of friends shared theirs, at 4 for her by her stepdad, at 8 for him from the neighbor. Enough is enough. My children and their children will live peacefully in our beautiful country without the boogeyman becoming a reality in their lives.

I am a blessing

It is said that a child chooses his parents and therefore no child is an accident. I sure did. I think that before we are even a thought in our parents mind, God gives us a glimpse of the world we are coming into, that would explain the “déjà vu” sensations we all get sometimes, and I picked this young man who was born in Boston late 1940, from a Italian immigrant and a German mother and he had only one little brother. At 18, he joined the marines and never left. I am pretty sure that after his look, my dad was hot at 18, I picked him because he was courageous and patriotic.

He was deployed in the Philippines were he met his first wife, and they welcomed a baby girl, a half sister that we have yet to find unfortunately .They moved back to the States, where I am pretty sure that he could have left the marines and join the family business as his dad owned gas stations, and horses. But no, he goes back this time to Indochina for 3 years in the middle of the war and when he comes back it is only to find an empty house as his wife had filed for divorce and moved to Florida with their daughter.

Meanwhile, all the way in Senegal, in 1952, my mom was welcomed after her parents had lost a boy at 4 and a girl at 7. My mom would sometimes say, talking about my late grandma, that she never felt a connection with her mom growing up, and since my mom was not able to walk by herself until she was 7, even though the doctors didn’t find anything wrong with her , she had heard her mom saying that she was not going to live just like the others. But God was watching as I had already picked my mom, and she later told me that when she found out that she could walk she still hid it from her own grandma who use to put her on her back to take her to school. Poor great-great grandma, I know she was already old then since she passed away in 1976 at 116 years old, but she had spoiled my mom so much that nothing can be said or done to her.

When she started getting out of control and decided to stop school at 9, my grandmother decided to let a cousin of her who had 6 kids, 3 boys 3 girls from 16 to 4, raise my mom. She was called the “dragon lady” in the neighborhood because of her toughness and well-behaved children. Later on, we, her grandkids will call that grandma ” the iron lady” a reference to Margaret Thatcher who was UK prime minister in the 1980’s. Lord we loved her but we were so scared of her. Sometimes I think that Tyler Perry met my grandma and Madea was born. Voilà.

She stayed with them, became best friend with the one that would later become my godmother, my best friend, the love of my life, and since she didn’t want to go to school she decided to learn how to cook, to be a housewife, she discovered Jesus and found the Virgin Mary who she prays till this day even though she was muslin and still is, and was returned at 19 years old to my grandma who by that time had remarried twice and had more children, 3 boys 2 girls.

And here goes my first blessing : my big, fat , loving family and the cherry on top was that they were a mixed of Catholics and Muslim. I was blessed enough to be born and raised in that world and to be exposed to both of them in my everyday life. It taught me how to understand both religions, love and accept everyone.

Somewhere in Vietnam, my dad trying to be a hero gets wounded while saving his troop from enemy ambush and he is sent back to Camp Pendleton, the same camp where my brother will be sent to in 1994 when he joined the marines. I would later discover among my father’s belongings all the medals and letters that he received for his services. I am so proud of him. Now you may understand why I picked him. Brave and strong. Unfortunately the news back in the  US were not joyful for my dad as he will learn that my half- sister had started at 10 years old to get in trouble at school and was smoking cigarettes. After failing to come to an agreement with his ex-wife on how to raise her and who should have her, my dad took an opening at the US embassy in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa.

He had never been to Africa and he would later joke about how he had never even seen so many black people. At that time I don’t think they had too many black people in Boston, Massachusetts so I can imagine his face when he landed. Poor daddy, his parents didn’t agree with him and never forgave him for taking the job. But the wheels of destiny were coming together and after 6 months of working at the embassy, my dad befriended one of his coworker and soon enough they started hanging out every weekend. One day, after some good food, good music and good drinks, my dad who loved his coworker’s wife and even called her “sister from another continent”, ask her to find a wife for him. He thought that it was about time for him to have a wife and more kids since he was in his thirties. She was so excited and happy to be the ” matchmaker” that it didn’t take too long for her to organize a get together between her friends, family bachelorettes and my dad at her house.

It was a Saturday afternoon around 3, when my dad walked in the house and found 7 beautiful women, eating, dancing, laughing.  After a look at all of them, his attention was drawn by a pretty little woman, with a great personality, who made him laugh so much that after an hour he told his coworker that may be she was the one. Everything was going great until 2 young women 20 years of age came to the house, looking for their sister, who happened to be my dad’s host and friend. After they left, my dad stopped talking to everyone at the party and when asked the reason why he declared that he had found his wife and that he didn’t need to mingle anymore. Sacré Papa !! Another strength from him: know what you want and commit to it, don’t be picky let your heart do the job.

Who was it ? The couple that hosted the party felt overwhelmed with joy and the wife started a guessing game with my dad as to who it was. She, of course guessed the one with the great personality ,cute as a button, but as much as he liked her he told his friend that the fact that she had finished a bottle of JB by herself was scaring him. He said ” I know I drink but she will drink me one day when she runs out of JB”. Then who ? My dad asked her about the 2 girls that had stopped by earlier, specifically about the one that didn’t talk too much. She laughed and told my dad to be serious, that it was her sister and the one not talking was her cousin and they were too immature. And, said his friend, you are white and she always said that she was scared of white people. Well too bad for her, because I want her and nobody else, was my dad answer. Second Blessings : the 2 girls were my mom and her best friend my godmother, who just happened to be sent by my grandmother ” iron lady “, the one who raised my mom. When told about my dad plans about her, my mom told me later she was scared to even look at him, and since she loved watching movies, thinking about Dracula and the exorcist didn’t help her either. I laughed at her so hard that day. Little did she know that they  were going to face much more than just skin color issues, with religion and complete rejection from both sides of the family.

 

 

Stop sexual abuse in Senegal

In the name of all the victims of abuse , male and female from Senegal West Africa, past or present victims, we are telling you enough with abuse. STOP. Not tomorrow, not later. NOW. Right at this moment as you are reading this loud message.

I am speaking in the name of all the women and men, but specially the little girls and boys, victim of sexual abuse in their childhood, teenage years or actual life. There is nothing more disgusting and humiliating than a person who would abuse their power by dismissing someone else’s will and wish. There is nothing more hurtful and destructive than, as a child, to put your trust in person who will use and abuse it by taking away your innocence, your childhood leaving you into the dark and scary adult world.

I would know as I was abused for months as the age of seven.

The silence was bearable until the nightmares start coming back.

Around the world, God’s clock has been heard: TIME IS UP !

I have spent the last 4 days trying to find courage to speak up and write this message after my world was shattered once again, as a grown man shed tears remembering his abuse in Senegal, by a neighbor at the age of 8. He was just a little boy looking for a father figure in his life who went knocking at the wrong door looking for it. And believe me when I said that he is not the only one.

So I prayed about it all day yesterday, and I truly believe in my heart that God made me sit down all night to watch the golden globes and that listening to Oprah deliver her powerful speech was all the courage I needed. I cried myself to sleep and and when I woke up this morning I had made up my mind : to the predators in my country your time is up too !

Yes, I know we don’t speak up in Senegal, nor anywhere else for that matter in Africa and the world, secrets and scandals are to be buried deeper than the dead. And all it brings is more hurt and chaos.

So no more. No more lies. No more covering. No more turning the other way. No more sleepless nights thinking about what you did and what you might do to our children.

We have a beautiful country only made a living hell by cowards like you, perverts like you, unbelievers like you, thieves like you, so guess what? Tic-toc,tic-toc.

To you , my precious little girl and boy feeling scared as you are being used and abused , smile and thank god as I might be only one but I will be heard and so will you. I promise to be restless and not silent, I will be your voice and the shoulder where you will be able to lay your head and get all the strength you will need to conquer the world. It is absolutely discussing to see still in this day of age in our country children being raped, abused and left with children of their own in the street.

You are our Fathers, Uncles, Brothers, Cousins, Neighbors, Teachers and Strangers that have brought only darkness in our life. Same on you.

To all my sisters and brothers that have been victims of verbal, physical and sexual abuse in Senegal, the rest of Africa and the world please take back the power by letting go. It should not be your burden, LET IT GO. SCREAM , SPEAK , SHARE. Listen to Oprah when she says ” a new day is on the horizon”.

May God protect our children and take away our pain, may he always gives us the courage to speak the truth and the heart to always defend the defenseless. May we be the voice of the voiceless, and may our arms be a safe harbor for them.

I know I am only a stone cast over the waters but my ripples will be felt, for I know that I wasn’t and is not the only abused victim, but I hope that I will be only a long forgotten horror story among my children and their children.

Tonight as I kiss my kids goodnight I will do it peacefully and proudly knowing that mommy did one small good thing : she got rid of her load by speaking the truth.

Halte à l’abus sexuel au Sénégal !!!

Au nom de tous les victimes sexuelles au Sénégal, passé et présent, nous vous demandons d’arrêter les abus. Pas demain ni plus tard. Aujourd’hui, ce moment précis où vous lisez ce cri d’appel.

Je parle au nom de ces femmes et hommes qui ont été victimes d’abus dans leur enfance, leur adolescence ou leur actuelle vie d’adulte. Il n’a rien de plus dégoûtant et écoeurant que d’être touché par une personne sans votre consentement. Il n’y a rien de plus affreux et désolant qu’une personne qui ne respecte pas le désir et le voeu de sa victime. Je parle en connaissance de cause ayant été moi même une victime sexuelle à 7 ans. Le silence était encore supportable , mais tout dernièrement ce mouvement d’arrêt à l’harassement sexuel à travers le monde entier a replongé tous les victimes d’abus sexuel dans un nouveau cauchemar quotidien moi y compris.

Nous élevons tous nos propres enfants en sachant qu’il faut un village pour l’entourer et le protéger seulement ce propre village peut devenir un monde d’enfer pour ces enfants. Ayant été élevé dans un pays où secrets et scandales sont enterrés plus profondément que nos propres défunts, je refuse de me taire et de subir une minute de plus. Comme Oprah l’a si bien souligné dans son discours du 7 janvier 2018 : Time is up !!!

Doyna! Assez! Enough!

Chacun ou chacune d’entre nous a malheureusement dans sa famille ou dans son entourage cet oncle qui nous a serré de trop prés quand nous étions plus jeune, cet oncle qui nous gardait trop longtemps sur ces genoux , et non nous n’étions pas trop jeune pour ne pas nous rappeler de ces moments de dégoût et de ce sentiment d’impuissance que nous avons ressentis. Si vous ne pouvez pas protéger vos enfants alors ne détruisez pas leurs vies.

Mes mots d’aujourd’hui sont pour cette petite fille et ce petit garçon, plongés dans le noir et souffrant d’abus sexuel : sèches tes larmes petit coeur, Dieu a entendu ton cri de secours.

Je promets, moi, Stephanie de ne plus trouver le sommeil jusqu’à ce que ma voix soit entendue, de rallier mes frères et soeurs autour de cette cause jusqu’à ce que ces prédateurs comprennent ce message : MON CORPS MON CHOIX, MON INNOCENCE A GARDER.

Il est inadmissible en 2018 qu’on trouve des enfants de 10,11 ans violés, enceintes et jetées dans la rue. Vous êtes des pères, des oncles, des frères, des cousins, des voisins, des étrangers qui ont abusés de leur pouvoir et détruits pour toujours la vie de pauvres innocents.

A tous mes frères et soeurs qui ont été victime d’abus que ce soit verbale, physique ou sexuelle au Senegal, en Afrique et dans le monde entier je vous demande s’il vous plait de relâcher , crier cette peine, qui non seulement finira par vous détruire intérieurement mais détruira tout autour de vous.

Que Dieu protége nos enfants et console nos coeurs, qu’il nous donne le courage de dire la vérité et surtout de défendre les persécutés, qu’on soit la voix du muet et l’ épaule où nos enfants pourront puiser le courage nécessaire de réussir dans ce monde.

Je sais que mon message est juste une pierre lancée dans un immense lac mais je suis fière de m’en être débarrassée.

#metoo,#moiaussi,#manetamit

Please spread this message if you care just a little bit, as I but one voice among thousands.

Down memory lane Part III

On our way to the concert, we stopped by châtelet to pick up some friends and ended up being 8 girls and 4 boys at the club. E and I spend most of the night looking at each other discreetly, and trying to get close to each other at any given chance. Towards the end of the night at some point I found myself alone at a corner while everyone else was on the dance floor, and I felt him behind me. My hair on the back of my head stood up and felt a chill going down my spine. He started playing with my baby hair on the back of my hair with his fingers and when I turned around to look at him, he just smiled and put the sweetest,slowest kiss ever on my lips. Like they say in French I was “à point”. WELL DONE !

I don’t remember what happened next but I was to be his girlfriend for 3 years. I stayed with my friend D who was now my boyfriend’s sister , and E would come every weekend since he was going to a university outside Paris. In March 94 we welcomed our baby boy E named after his uncle and we all fell in love with him. He had 5 aunties every weekend with him and I was the lucky one who got to spend my nights with him when they were all out. I can truly say that he made me the mom that I am today.

We went back to Dakar with him to face her family who was extremely religious and traditional,  and ask for their forgiveness since she was sent to Paris to study and she came back 2 years later not married with a boy on her arms. Boy did we cry at the airport Charles de gaulles before boarding and did we pray God and all the saints we knew. Like I told her that day she was Muslim I was Catholic we were going to get somebody’s attention. That made her laugh, and for a moment we forgot our fears and just enjoyed our baby. Her dad was at the airport, and I stayed behind with the baby while she went to put her knees on the floor and ask for his forgiveness. And I saw a man who was well known, respected and feared, he was the secretary of defense of my country at that time, I saw him shed some tears and kiss his daughter and grandson like everyone should do when your lost son or lost daughter is coming back home. Forgive and forget.

I stayed with her that summer and E came and stayed with us for 2 months, best times ever ever ever. We ended up being 15 hanging out every day, sleep until 1 pm, lunch and up we go the beach, we are a country surrender by the ocean on 3 sides so we had a large choice of beautiful places. Dinner at 8, club at midnight all the way to 7 am, breakfast at the bakery and everybody goes to bed at 9. Same routine everyday.  Sweet life !! I miss thoses days but I know that at that time all we wanted to do was grow up, get married, have kids and be millionaires.

I stayed behind when E went back to Paris for another 5 months and in February 95 I joined him in a small town 1hr 30mn from Paris. He used to come for school at 6 and will go out and play basketball across the street. One night around 9, I was watching tv when I heard a knock at the door. I thought it was weird that E would knock since he had his keys and since we never had a visitor I was pretty surprised to find a man,about my age, smiling, until he saw my face ,which led me to believe that he knew me and this beautiful girl , 18-19 years old, light skin, beautiful smile that disappeared too when she seemed to recognize me.

“Hello my name is D” she said ” and this is my cousin Mo, sorry to bother you but we came to see E, I know it’s late but we haven’t heard from him in 2 months and since he used to come see us every weekend we got worried sick”. And in my mind I am thinking 2 months, I have been here for 2 months now and I wonder why I never heard about you. And Mo, who will become my bestfriend for 20 years, said something that day that still makes us laugh today ” well D, now we know “who”happen to him, not what and if he is dead it would be only from pleasure overdose.” I laughed and as I am trying to introduce myself she says ” oh we know you, he can’t stop talking about you even when we are alone”. ” Well miss thing why don’t you come inside and talked to me about those alone moments then”.

As they coming in and getting comfortable,  I am closing the door and smiling, thinking about the look on E’ s face when he opens the door and sees them.

P.S : I missed those days when we didn’t have a cell phone and you couldn’t get a warning for what was about to happen.

Down memory lane Part II

As my friend D opens the door, I am out of words when I see her round belly. I had no idea she was married let alone pregnant. “Close your mouth and come inside”, she said . ” And yes I got a goal”. Back home that would be one of the expressions used when someone would get pregnant. As I am jumping on her and rubbing her belly, I am asking all the questions, when did it happen, who is the Dad, what is she having. As of today, I can still remember the joy I felt when I touch her belly not knowing how much that baby was going to change my life.

She was 5 months pregnant with a boy by a guy she had met 8 months prior, he was barely around anymore and on top of everything her family had cut her out. Having met her family before, I knew that it must have been a hard blow for her. She was the oldest of 5 and they did pretty much everything, and loved each other very much. I must confess I was envious at time at her relationship with her dad as I had lost mine at 3 years old. As we were crying about the situation I promised her that I would stay with her until her delivery if needed since I was not enrolled in school and I wasn’t working.

That evening 3 of her girlfriends came to spend the weekend with her and after dinner we all decided to go to a concert. As they were all packed in the tiny bathroom putting make-up on , I was watching tv waiting on them when somebody opened the door. And this skinny but sexy boy, about my age ,chocolate milk complexion, strawberry lips and bambi eyes , walked into the living room and I knew when he gave me 2 kisses on the cheek after introducing himself , that all my dating rules were going to be crushed that night. TROUBLE ! Hum hum hum…

Next thing I hear is all theses girls screaming and jumping on top of him. Hugs and kisses from everyone and in my mind I was wondering about who he was and which one of the girls was “z one”? Too bad , I said to myself , because the boy was a lot handsome, a lot sexy, a lot funny and sweet, a lot of everything, like a one size fits all. When D jumped on him screaming “my little baby!!!”, it was my “oh boy” moment, “this is the daddy “. Not bad girl, not bad at all. And then she looked at me and said ” Steph this is my little brother E the Apple of my eye” . And as I was throwing a sweet “enchantée” I asked myself why my Marilyn Monroe side  was trying to show herself. You know the sexy voice and the batting of the lashes! Whewww ! I was going down fast. Too fast. His smile was the last stroke ! I was flat like a tortilla on the floor all he had to do was roll me over. And boy did he !!!

 

 

Down memory lane Part I

As I am sitting on my sofa in the living room watching tv, this day December 27th, I am looking at Mo my husband who is in the kitchen cooking and cleaning since 6 this morning just for pleasure, and I thank God first of all then I asked myself how did I get so lucky? How after all theses years being best friends , living our separate lives but never being afar from each other, I married our common best friend 19 years ago, had 2 kids, divorced ,got married again,one son,divorced again and I was done, how did we end up here ? Husband and wife.

I told Mo I was done !!! I was so serious that I stayed single for 4 1/2 years,praying God to not let me pick my next husband. Lol. I can still remember my words in my prayers “please God whatever you do always keep an eye on me and don’t let me pick my next husband. You know how good I am with that”. But since God loves to laugh too he decided to play with us, Mo and I. And I firmly believe that. Because from the moment I met Mo in 1995 in Paris , we would have never,ever,ever, even in our wildest dreams, thought that we will ever kiss let alone be married today!!

We were both born in Dakar, Senegal, same year 1973, not even 20 miles apart and yet we never met each other in Dakar, our families didn’t even know each other. What’s more surprising is that growing up, he would met people who are still his friends, that I would encounter later, but we never saw each other there.

He was living between Dakar and Paris for 3 years and has been there for 8 months when we met in September 95 in Paris. As he recalls today it was his lost period because nothing really came out of it but some hard times. And I can say the same because after graduating in 92 I had found a job a week later at our first cable tv company Canal Horizons. After a year it was decided that I should try Paris for college even though financially I knew it was going to be extremely tight. But being the oldest of 4 and being the only girl, I was eager to succeed and help my single mom with my siblings.

Why Paris? Because being an old French colony, everyone back home first choice for university was France. It was never understood why I, picked Paris since I was a US citizen ( my dad was born and raised in Boston from an Italian father and a German mother and I was born in Senegal as an American), and I could have easily come here and study. But I was apprehensive to come back ( I was 16 when I first traveled to Chicago for 2 months). I loved it, loved it. But my mom had sent me on vacations at her cousin’s house just so he can help me find my lost family on my daddy’s side( that is another story), but I never wanted to and I never did. Like I said it is a whole other story. So I knew that I had gotten away with it the first time and I was not going to be lucky again, therefore I landed in Paris in September 93 at a friend’s pad, an ex-classmate and after 2 months of doing nothing and feeling so bored, I called a ex-colleague of mine who had left the cable company and decide to move to Paris at the end of 92. We had only worked for 3 months but we enjoyed each other company, and when she picked up the phone her first words were ” I miss you too much to have this conversation on the phone, go to the station and get your behind here”. I loved her for her honesty, franc-parler. It was Friday night, end of November, cold as… and me poor African girl who had never seen snow or black ice , prayed when I got in front of her door, after sliding down the sidewalk and getting my pants wet, I prayed that she will let me spend the weekend at her house until the snow melts. Be careful what you wish for, as I left a year later.