Friday, October 29, 2010

Culture and its Effect on a Nigerian Living in America PART 1

Shucks. I haven't been on here in a minute. This post actually started from a research I participated in. I was given a survey to fill about experiences with acculturation, acclimatization, and other stuffs in that line. So, after that, I was told to do three writing sessions. I'll post the question, and my response below. I have joined the first two sessions to form the first part of this discussion. I actually wanted to post this a while back, but then got distracted. It was this post at THIS BLOG I FOLLOW that reminded me once again. So here it is, enjoy.


Here is the Question:

Please think about your cultural background and an obstacle that you have encountered or continue to experience due to your culture (for example, discrimination because others don't understand your culture, or family conflict due to changing cultural values). Describe the event. Now, think about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Think of this as the realization of all of your life dreams. Now, write about what you imagined. The only rule that we have is that you write continuously for the entire time. If you run out of things to say, just repeat what you have already written. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or sentence structure. You may write in any language you prefer.

And here is my response:

I come from Nigeria, a country in the western part of Africa. Many people tend to see Africa as a COUNTRY but it's just pretty amazing to me. I can say that I do not myself know much about geography too, but it's in my opinion very plain to see that Africa is a Continent. However, that's not the saddest part. Africa is portrayed in the media as this place where kids die of starvation, and hunger and a bunch of disease; which is partly true, but what is more true is the fact that this is not what Africa is/has ever been.

It would be very stupid for me to believe that  the story of the Mormons, in most especially the state of Ohio represents the beliefs of all Americans and America as a whole. In light of this, there are always different strata in different countries; the same social caste and organization that has been created in the United States is the same that is present in Africa or Asia, or wherever else in the world. America has changed, vastly from the days of slavery and racism, but I would be blind to still look at the America of  today in that same vein; without paying attention to the changes that have occurred over the years, although it is true that some parts of America and few Americans still hold on to that kind of viewpoints, but the fact is, they don't represent the consensus.

Therefore, it would be honoring for me for people to view the continent of Africa in whole as not the "walk-around-naked-stomach-larger-than-usual-aids-infected-eat-people-for-dinner--continent" that it is been portrayed as in the media but as a people with diverse views, and beliefs. While these things MIGHT be true to some extent, as I have earlier said, they do not represent what Africa is in a whole.

As a Nigerian, I know what it feels like to be viewed in this light; as a very opportune individual to be in the United States who is able to afford food and clothes, and is able to manage to utter a few English words, but somewhere along the line it's surprising to them how I am able to lead the class in an English Course; a language they so claim to be their own. What could it be? They out of adoration ask me "So, did you learn English when you came here, or did they teach you English back in Nigeria?", I usually don't want to blame them for their ignorance of the fact that the English Language just so 'by chance if you may' happens to be the official language o the country. They gasp at the realization of this. This has happened to me, not once, not twice, and actually quite recently too.  

Honestly, I have a hope that my future and everything would go as well as it possibly could for me. Sometimes, I get paranoid of course, like most people, I think, but I'm very sure of the fact that God has a place for me in this world. However, sometimes it might seem that my cultural background would not permit me to do the things I really want to do. What do I mean by this? My accent.

Somewhere at the back of my mind, I tend to not see this as a problem, but then again, on the surface, I do. Culture is wonderful, but sometimes (if not all the time) I tend to see culture as limiting. It fails to open one's eyes to the possibilities outside of itself which prevents exposures to other cultures. So to me, it can be very narrow-minded. These are my concerns. I like to write, and I do have hopes of performing some of the poems I have written, especially the ones that are spoken-word poetry, but then again, I remind myself of the limitation in front of me.

The "I-don't-give-a-care" Ayokunle tends to rationalize and give me examples of celebrities who can't even speak comprehensible English, not to talk of speaking in an American Accent, but then again, the "Oh-my-goodness-what-will-they-think" Ayokunle frets over the issue. I'm sure you know who won, don't you? Could it possibly be a barrier, or just another blessing in disguise? These are my thoughts!

Here is an addition:

The problem, many do not understand is NOT about speaking in an American Accent. or  a British Accent, or Australian, or..... (well you get the gist, wherever you are) The problem is being able to speak in a way that you CAN be understood. There are countless number of Nigerians who are esteemed in their chosen professions, while still maintaining their accents. This I address in PART TWO. Be on the look-out.



Myne Whitman said...

Interesting discourse..

Fellow Writer (Ayokunle Falomo) said...

I'm glad you find it so, Ms Whitman. Thanks.