Home: Lost Identity

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They tell me I have an accent.
That’s funny because They also tell me pretty much the same thing!
Who are they you may ask?
My fellow Americans
And of course my very own Liberian People
Welcome to my life:
I am an immigrant  living in Liberia, but still connected to my birth country. I missed the memo about being away too long so I still considered myself Liberian

I’ve been told too many times that I am not considered Liberian YET I am not American enough to blend in. There is not a week that goes by without the question “You have an accent. Where are you from?” While working in Corporate America, I heard it every single day. I often times answered, I am Liberian.


Few years ago, I Moved back to Liberia only to be told I am not Liberian. When I attempted to speak in my best Koloqua* I was told it still sounds like  “series” *  People would usually just laugh and say”u geh slow down dah series small yah” I tried talking really fast and intentionally not enunciating my words, but ehhhh it was not enough.


When it was time to my end my stay in Liberia, my friends and family started reminding me that it was time to go home. Now, this is where it gets interesting because before I left America, I told my friends and family I was traveling home.
Yes, Home because it doesn’t matter how long I stay away, Liberia is still home.

Whenever I refer to Liberia, it is always home or back home. At first it was funny when people said I can’t call Liberia home, but now I am just frustrated. If America is not home and I’ve been away too long to still call Liberia home,  What’s a girl to do?
Am I homeless?
Not American enough and my “Liberianness” is fading away or just doesn’t cut it for Liberians in Liberia
This is tough …
When my father decided to marry a Liberian woman and leave his family in Sierra Leone, I lost that identity. My only claim to Sierra Leone is this last name that might get change should I decide to get marry. I do not speak Krio*, but I respond to my grandmother when she tries to communicate with me.

Sometimes I sit and think-
If my dad didn’t migrate, I’ll be fluent in Krio and even practicing the Islamic faith. Or if he maintained contact or married a woman from Sierra Leone 

Ehhhh I would have been missing cassava leaf *laugh*

I like to think I am more Liberian than anything else

Yes, Mende is my true tribal identity, but nobody can’t tell me I’m not a Kpelle geh. While I do not speak Kpelle (I can count to 10!) I still have a deeper connection to my Kpelle identity than I do my Mende. I know only about 3 Mende words *hangs head in shame*

Who am I going to blame? I grew up in Monrovia and everyone spoke Liberian English to me. J.J. Roberts (my elementary school) never taught me kpelle; They taught me French. Thanks Monsieur Yomi!
Que, je parles francais
Don’t ask me to speak more or I’ll have to get back to you after I consort with my lovely friend Mr. Google
After years of French in Liberia, I got to the US and it was time for Hola!
Wait a minute, I now have to learn Spanish??
Uhhh…where is the Kpelle class?
Or better yet, anybody teaching Mende or Krio? Anyone? Hello? Hellooooooooooooo?


Seems like this identity thing is harder than it sounds
Its easier to just check a box for your identity on a piece of paper
What makes one identify with that box? The language, food, people, traditions, etc?
Well, I fail that test for one identity. I have a little mix of Sierra Leone and Liberia, but certainly America. This is home.
I guess I lost my chance at being 100%  of either one of my identity when I migrated. This is also means I get multiple layers of identity.

When my friends and family in Liberia tell me home is America
Or when I tell my American friends and family I am going ‘back home’ referring to Liberia, it simply means I have  two homes!
That’s the bright side to all this…Two homes sure are better than one 🙂

Hopefully someday my kids or future generation no longer have to deal with the confusion of not being Liberian enough or less American. It is hard to just box people into one category
There is always a lot more to us than the boxes we check to identify with our ethnicity.
Beyond a Mende/Kpelle/American girl, I am just a person.
And like every other person, I’m just trying to live in a world of mixed cultures that are melting together. The next time somebody tries to tell me where home is, I will be sure to educate them on the facts of a world way more connected than divided. One love. 

*Koloqua- Liberian English

*Series- Liberians way of referring to American accent

*Krio- native tongue of Sierra Leoneans

Another Kind of Love

Raise the bar not my legs

I’m not offering a piece of ass, but you can have a piece of my mind

Try to undress my mind

Slowly peel off the layers of hurt I’ve been wearing

Then trow away my fears

Thrust some compassion my way

Remove these garments of pride I walk around with

Be gentle when you rub against my patience

I want to get lost in your aptitude

Want some head? How about you get in my head

Change my mentality of the male species

Make me believe that you see beyond what the mirror shows me

Hold me close without caution

Then take my breath away with your passion

Wanna hold something? Here’s a conversation

You want a rider? Let’s take a  down memory lane

I promise I’m not going anywhere

We’re gonna do this right

Dim the lights

Crack a smile

Tonight, I’m a Sapiosexual

Your intelligence turns me on

Ignore the physical

Capture the intellectual

Make me want more of what I can’t see

I’m ready…

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If You Fall

Don’t fall for the way I look after spending hours to get ready

Hair done,

Nails done,

Make up done to perfection-

Oh baby! I’m TV ready

Can my selfie say Amen?

If you’re going to Fall in love with me,

Fall for my real body

The way it slightly widens around the hips

The way my flat stomach is deceiving cuz junk food is my weakness

Fall in love with those dark spots that appear after my concealer wipes off

Fall for my hands that are not very lady-like

Fall for my impatience, my jealousy, my moods and those times when I feel nothing at all

Fall for the little child in me

And of course the grown woman I can be

Fall for my scars- the one on my thighs that everyone seem to skip over

Notice and admire those weird imperfections that stands out on my body

The random tattoos in places that was hidden from my mother

The marks from piercings I got at 16

Fall in love with my now bald head

The rough and almost hard to handle texture of my hair

Love the gap on the upper left row of my front teeth

The space left behind from years of my unhealthy candy obsession

Fall in love with all the things that make me far from perfect

Love ALL of me- good and not so good

When I’m counting my flaws,

Point out your “awwwws”

Because if you’re ever going to Fall in love, do it for ALL of this

or don’t fall at ALL

photocred: Jolie Lune Photography- Boston 

Stained Lips

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Kiss me baby, Kiss me

I want to stained your lips with my love

Pour out your love like wine after a long day

With your eyes close, lead me through your thoughts

With only your tongue, pour into me

 

Kiss me baby, Kiss me breathless

Explore my passion

Oh baby! Let’s do it old fashion

Pick me up and don’t be late

Drive through movie type of date

Get me home, but not before we hold hands

Watch me walk back to my house then hesitate, but follow

 

Kiss me baby, Kiss me restless

Do it with a bite to my lower lips

Pull me in slow like you’ll never let go

Hold me still, make my world stop

Slowly bring me back to reality when you dangle your car keys

 

Kiss me baby, kiss me

Let’s get lost in our own love

Take my lips forever your prisoner

If someone else were to kiss you, let them taste me

Kiss me baby, Kiss me Tightly

I want to stained your lips with my love

Dear Madam President

Dear President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 

I am a patriotic Liberian who was privileged to have received an American education, but not before I got my foundation from J.J. Roberts United Methodist School in Monrovia. I gave up corporate America experiences to walk the red dirt roads in Maryland county because of my devotion to the new Liberia you have led over the past 11 years. I say new Liberia, because the Liberia I grew up in was the one with bullets and relocation every now and then, with only tales about the “normal days” as my parents would refer to prewar Liberia. I came back to the new Liberia, where as a female head of state you gave hope to so many young girls and women like myself, in a world where educating girls is still considered taboo. I have had faith in your leadership and came back with the passion and purpose to work for the days my future children would no longer have to seek better opportunities outside of Liberia, like my parents did for me.

I attended undergraduate and graduate school in the college city of Boston studying Education, because I strongly believe development starts with educating the minds of the people. Immediately after my graduation in 2013, I emailed every college and university in Liberia with my resume and cover letter, eagerly outlining my accomplishments in higher education and my passion for my dear country Liberia. To my astonishment, not one of my 6 emails got an answer. I still went ahead and bought a one-way ticket to Liberia with the hope of being on the ground to speed things up. In between the many “come back tomorrow” and “I’ll see what I can do”, I found time to visit rural schools and organize drives for school supplies, having started a charity organization I named Kporma (meaning Help me in my mother’s native tongue, Kpelle). With my savings drying out and Kporma not being sustainable, I returned to America still hopeful about providing help to the faces I encountered during my stay. I worked tirelessly with organizations and individuals in and around New England, selling African fabric to fund libraries and study centers in rural Liberia. In the midst of all this, Ebola struck our dear Liberia.  With the help of a few good friends, we formed the Ebola Be Gone group in Providence, Rhode Island. Under this umbrella, we organized and collaborated with churches, schools, hospitals and other community groups to send a 40ft container home to help those working on the front-lines.
Madame President, I am mentioning this not to outline my achievements, because by all means I have yet to do much for my dear country Liberia, but simply to paint a clear picture of Liberians who have their country at heart. When Tubman University emailed me in 2015 with a job offer, I jumped at the opportunity. It was a dream to have received their offer as head Registrar of the University, so I quickly handed in my two-weeks notice to my then employer in Boston. I  saw my duty in Liberia as a far more urgent calling than being a Violence Prevention Counselor. I was ready to mold the minds of young Liberians through my service at the University and more importantly, I was ready to be part of the new Liberia you have been creating. 
To my great disappointment, on February 15th of this year I had to turn in my resignation to the Tubman University administration because in order to stay at my dream job, I would have had to forfeit my integrity. I woke up one day being the Senior Director of Admissions, Records and Registration to then pondering my next move. I was asked to ignore the University admission policies and allow a student into the school who had failed the entrance exams twice, as a favor to the current President of the University. I had witnesses over a thousand prospective students fail the exams, many of whom had done much better than this one.  I still believe in merit over connections.  I have documentations to these allegations and presented them to every senior administrator at the university before my departure. I am here as a prime example of the foundation a quality Liberian education produces. I admire the values I was taught throughout my education sojourn in Liberia. Who you know can get you places, but certainly does not keep you there. I am not the daughter of a prominent Liberian leader. I did not get to Tubman University because of any connections. My assumption was that the new Liberia rewards merit, not status. This assumption landed me in meetings where I was faced with the decision of choosing between staying at the university or leaving. I left with my pride still intact, but cannot say the same for the administration. 
My dear President, this is a testament as to why Liberians abroad do not return home. This is the “I told you so” they all said when I relocated to Liberia. This is not the new Liberia I envisioned. It is clearly not the place to dream a big enough dream to scare me as you said. The only thing that scares me now is the lack of integrity among those we have entrusted to educate the next generation. It is alarming that in all this, people still looked me in the eye and said “Dah Liberia here ooo what can we do?”  This is a lame excuse we use for reasons why we do nothing about moving forward as a nation. I know we can do something and I will not stop until that happens. You said and I printed and stuck on my walls these words “We are committed as a people. To build a new Liberia from the ashes of an old turbulent and tragic past to a future of hope and promise.”
God bless the days these words were said and God continue to bless the hearts of Liberians striving to follow them through each and every day.
In service and disappointment,
Randell Zuleka Dauda, M.Ed