This poem was written collectively in September 2020 in Bissau during a workshop initiated by Filipa César and Marinho Pina with Sergio Pereira and Vadinho da Costa and other members of activist groups in Guinea Bissau, among them GTO (Theater of the Opressed), Bissau; Coletivo Cadjigue; Clube Amor à Leitura (Club Love for Reading); the Cassaca 64 Movement and the PDH – HSH (association activism for LGBTQ + rights). The aim was to expand on concepts of Survivance as a creative medium for investigating contemporary social conditions of inequality and as a ritual for environmental and social justice. The workshop was directed in a playful way, mixing deep thoughts and struggles with games, singing and dancing. This poem is a short version of the text created in the workshop. 

All Photos: Lena Heubusch

Workshop participants: Deolinda A.A. Biaguê, Samito E. Braga Correia, Cadidjato Candé, Mamadu Cassama, Filipa César, Anissa J.da S.S.Correia, Aidler M. Cundwom, Vadinho da Costa, Inussa Djaló, Alcidia Rufino Gomes, Chiquinho Joqauim Gomes, Juelson Jorge Gomes, Djenifer Indi, Emanuel Jesi Lopes, Neucise Liga Có, Piotri Jaime Miranda Mango, Joia A. Monteiro Sá, Sérgio Carlitos Pereira, Jean Luis Pires Cale, Sadjo Pedro Sambú, Fadel Afonso Sani

Workshop coordination: Lena Heubusch


Let’s rescue our ancestor’s values,

we are passing and acting as smart,

saying we have cars, saying we have bars,

saying we have social media and stuff,

but we all know that we’re treading in the sand,

that’s why we don’t avance, but stand.

We have to rescue the values of our communities,

it’s the only way to be together and to spread unity,

because if we know the past, we will know the future,

let’s make less complaint as the present is unpliant,

and seize to stand on the shoulders of our giants.


If among our differences we find togetherness,

then tomorrow will arrive with a wind of freedom.

You cannot be free if you’re oppressing others,

because you won’t be able to sleep quiet,

afraid that they may “kick the bucket”,

that’s in fact why an oppressor acts

and stands surrounded by bodyguards,

because he is afraid of the people he hangs,

that’s why he walks with weapons in his hands,

claiming that he can, so he is going to clamp

and put in a bag anyone who criticizes him. Damn!

You see, the oppressor is not free,

for he is afraid of the rage of the oppressed ones.


We want to wake up the workers,

we want them to know that they are strong,

because they build everything in the world

but in the moment of paying them for their job,

what they give to them are eggs of a unicorn.

A worker makes 100 coats,

but he can’t afford a single one with his salary.

What is happening?

We want to wake up the workers,

so that they can stand to break the chains

which keep them under exploitation.

They are the core of the production,

but in the moment for dividing,

the bosses don’t provide them with their share.

It’s not fair! We’re lighting up the flare,

spare no effort to achieve this gold,

because slaves who don’t know they are slaves,

won´t crave to stop being a slave. That’s grave.


The oppressor draws several laws

in which the jaws of just another one fall,

but the oppressor knows how to saw the laws he sows.

We’re fighting though to have just one law

for everyone right now,

because everyone feels pain,

everyone’s eyes can make rain,

everyone’s body has flesh

with a wish of feeling fresh in this messy mesh.

Everybody is a body!

We also dream, we also scream,

but it seems like they don’t see how we feel.

If you cut us, we also bleed,

so we can agree on this: “you are me”.

That’s the reason why we’re seeking for union,

to make the law start to look at us

not as gay, not as not gay,

not as anything else, merely… as… people.


There are many ways to promote unity,

unity in struggles,

struggles through culture, struggles through reading,

struggle in which we can really unite

to talk and to debate with conscience

in order to find references to set us free,

not only for us, but also for our brothers and sisters.

Giants of thinking arrived before us,

they sought for more and wrote their thought

so we ought to use those stocks,

for if we stand on the giants’ shoulders,

as it is said before, we will be able to see further.

We need to unite around culture,

to find strength to break this wave of ignorance,

to take a stance against this tiresome trance.


We fight to create safe space

where disrespect has no place,

where every person can be themself,

and discuss with everyone else

problems and matters of their interest,

to create new languages, to remake the images,

so the struggle varies to potentialize imaginaries,

and to obtain instruments to implement a new alphabet,

in which the word prejudice will not be missed

for its absence from the narratives.



No risgata baluris di no donas,

No sta na iarma kuma no tchoka,

kuma no sibi ke k i toka-toka,

kuma no sibi ke k i feisiboka,

ma no sta suma mininu k na kuri na reia,

pabia avansu gora kila keia.

No tem k rikupera balur di kumunidadi,

pabia so asim k no pudi sinta na unidadi,

si bu ka kunsi bu tras, bu ka na kunsi bu dianti,

kaba no na odja mas distanti

si no firma na ombra di garandis.


Si dentru di no diferensa no konsigi unidadi,

Enton amanha na tchiga ku bentu di liberdadi.

Bu ka pudi sedu livri

si bu na oprimi bu kumpanher,

bu ka ta durmi ku medu di kuma

e na bim kebrau kudjer,

el ku manda bu ta odja opresor

ku manga di guarda-kostas,

ku manga di ixkoltas,

pabia i medi rivolta di kilis k i ta forka,

el k manda i ta kumpra armas pa pasia di didia

e ta fika i na papia, i na fala, i na fitcha, i na fugia,

tudu kim k bim pa kritikal.

Opresor ka sta livri,

pabia oprimidus tambi tene forsa.


No misti pa no tarbadjaduris korda,

No misti pa e sinti kuma e tene forsa,

pabia na es tera elis k ta fasi tudu obra,

ma ora di bim kobra

e ta pagadu ku banha di kobra.

Um tarabadjur ta kumpu 100 bota,

Ma si salariu ka ta sobra nim pa kumpra 1 bota.

Anta i kuma ke?

No misti pa tarbadjaduris korda,

pa e sapa-korda, pa e sapa kil korda

k ta mara elis na ixplorason,

pabia elis k i forsa di produson,

ma ora di bim fasi divizon,

patrons ta fala elis kuma i ka tene se kinhon.

No misti korda sintidus di no djintis, di no amigus,

pa no pudi sta unidu na kaminhu di rivoluson,

pabia skravu k ka sibi kuma el i skravu,

i ka ta pidi libertason,

pabia i ka tene nosson di kuma e i skravu.


Opresoris ta fasi lei,

lei k ta prutuji elis, pabia e tene manera di kebra lei.

Ma no la luta pa lei sedu um so pa tudu djintis,

pabia no ta sinti dur, anos tudu no tene karni,

anos tudu no ta sufri, anos tudu no ta tene duris.

Tudu pekadur i pekadur, no tene sunhu, no tene dur,

No ta ri sabi, no ta tchora tchur,

si bu lanhanu, sangi ta sai.

El ku manda no na bai djunta pa pa no fasi pa lei

odja djintis suma pekadur

nau suma gay o suma nka-sibi-ke,

ma simplismenti suma pekadur.


No tene manga di forma di prumuvi unidadi,

Unidadi na luta, luta atravex di kultura ku leitura,

luta nde k no pudi djunta di bardadi

pa fasi n’utru purgunta ku seredadi,

pa no pudi diskuti suloson k na libertanu,

anos ku no ermons tudu djuntu.

Garandis di pensamentu bim ba dja antis di nos,

e skribi se pensamentu e disal elis pa nos

ku pa kilis k na bim no dianti,

pa kila no tem k lei djintis garandi,

pabia si no firma na ombra di garandis,

suma k i faladu antis, no na odja mas distanti.

No prisiza di fasi unidadi na no kultura,

pabia kila k i forsa pa kebra es onda di ignoransia,

k ta pui no povu na kansa.


Lutamos para criar espaços seguros,

onde o desrespeito não tem lugar;

onde qualquer pessoa

possa numa boa

discutir questões e problemas

criar novas linguagens, refazer imagens,

potenciar imaginários,

esculpir um novo alfabeto,

onde a palavra preconceito

não está no léxico.

Um espaço seguro,

um espaço onde se possa arquitetar

esse lugar.

Translated from Guinean Kreol by Marinho Pinha. Thanks to Laura Horelli and to the author of this blog: https://degeneracy.home.blog, for proofreading the English translation of this text.