Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Culture and its Effect on a Nigerian Living in America PART 2

Here is the PART II of the Effects of Culture: This part addresses this section of 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.

So, here goes:
I have already written about this in the previous writing session, and it is no other thing than what I have said about how people get the Continent Africa confused with a country. It's sad. Also, all Africans are basically the same, with the same family background, education level, religion, social class, etc. just like I believe it is in the United States. False! The truth is, people are different no matter how closely related or similar they might appear to be. Just because someone comes from Africa does not mean that the person has no access to speaking the English Language, and properly too. This I have already discussed. 

Another issue, still related to language is the issue of accent. To be honest, I'll tell you that I do have an accent; who doesn’t, eh? It can be frustrating when people start to ask you how long you've been in the country and yet I cannot talk like an American. This however just draws me back to the main argument that I have made; which is that people are different from each other and are influenced by certain factors, even from birth. Why do I say so? Acclimatization to some people is fairly easy. They have no problem with speaking in an American accent, and then switching back to their Nigerian or African accent in the split of a second. Does that make them fake? I would say NOT. It is just easier for them. 

From a biological stand point, it is fairly easier for children and teenagers to learn this adaptation faster than any adult could, but that's not to say there are some adults who can't learn as fast; or even faster. The point is the rate at which we all learn is different from one person to the next. Personally, I find it a mighty big issue to do that; I would be lying to myself by saying I want to be loyal to Nigeria and so, I won't speak in any other accent. That's not the point. So, why is the American accent needed anyways? To sound cool? That's not the point either! The point is some people think it sounds more reasonable to speak in an accent that everyone around you speaks. It definitely makes life much easier. 

However, I am pretty much almost content with the position I'm in, why? I feel like the most important thing is to be able to speak in a way where everyone can understand you; accent or not! The key is to speak in grammatically sound English, one with all the words accurately pronounced. It really isn't a question of "how many years have you been in this country that you can't learn how to talk like them", but rather it is a matter of being able to apply oneself to the system and being able to function normally with others; again, accent or not. This raises a very strong question in my mind about foreign Hollywood celebrities, many of whom have been in America for a long time; and yet they are still even sometimes not able to speak in comprehensible English, and not to mention that the little English they speak is with a very strong accent. 

People don't worry about folks like that, who cares, right? They are celebrities, they've got money! Who's to say that maybe their accent is what got them famous in the first place? But it's kind of unfair to people like me who are just so not that opportune to be able to adjust as easily as possible. Is it just because I am not a celebrity? If I become one, does the story change? Do I still remain the 'boy with the heavy accent', or does my status change to 'the celebrity that has a cool accent'? It's funny, and at the same time sad.


Anonymous said...

This may sound silly, but I grew up in New York. And when I was a teen, I visited people in the Southwest. When they learned that I came from New York, they wanted to see my switchblade... (I didn't have a switchblade...)

RemiRoy said...

Where are you bro? haven't seen you in ages.
Happy new year!

Fellow Writer (Ayokunle Falomo) said...

@Anonymous, you mean Southwest Nigeria, right? It's a silly story, but funny though, lol. But wait, a switchblade? WOW!! I guess it's that valuable, well especially if it is from the US, I guess, ahaha.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

This topic bothers me akin to a great deal, because if one really thinks about it, everyone in the United States of America comes from somewhere--dating generations back but for the Native Americans (and even then there's the question on how they originated here when mankind originated with Adam and Eve).

This country is up for anyone who can work it and live in it. It belongs to no one and yet, it belongs to everyone.

What is a foreigner anyway? Aren't we all foreigners here to some degree?

I was born here, but I'm not Caucasian. Should that make me and different than the 'typical American'?

So what is the typical american? No ordinary white person can be because they came from overseas if you follow their lineage far enough.

You are right, it is SO sad how people are defined by the color of their skin, their accents, and their money.

There will be a day, my friend, when all of this will NOT matter.

Thank you for writing this post, I enjoyed it.

♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

Fellow Writer (Ayokunle Falomo) said...

Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's been an issue for me for a long time, (it still is) how we claim to be similar yet we are so different; and how we claim to be so different, and yet we are similar. It's a mystery, at least to me, lol. Lucky enough, I've taken History 1 and 2, and I do agree with you. You're right. I'm waiting for that day when it all will no more matter. Thanks again, and keep writing.