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