Are you from Angola?

Now this was a first!

I am often assumed to be Nigerian and on one occasion Ghanaian but never Angolan!

Maybe it was because he couldn’t quite place my name – which didn’t seem like a typical Nigerian name or from the Francophone countries of Africa. To him, I must be from the former Portuguese colony of Angola.

It was a funny exchange and I thanked him for thinking I was from the continent. I then corrected him and told him I was an American. He said, “Really!” – Obviously confused by my strange accent and unusual name.

While Angola is a first, I have these conversations all the time. When I was in California recently for the wedding of my friend Vartan, I was often asked how long I had been in the US and whether I studied in the US. At first, I wanted people to know that I was an American and extremely happy to be in the homeland. But after a while, I soon realized that people couldn’t place my accent and just assumed that I was Nigerian. Once I told people that I was from Alabama, people were either shocked or amused…the next question was, how did you get from Alabama to Nigeria!

I think the longer I stay in Nigeria or even on this continent, the farther removed I become from home. My accent continues to change on my need to communicate with my colleagues and my mannerisms take on new forms to reflect how I interact with Nigerians. What was once loud and colorful is now normal! A car beating a traffic light is normal and an individual relieving themselves on the side of the road is commonplace. Sometimes I often feel like a man with no home but one call back to my mom and I am reminded that home is in Mount Vernon, Alabama.

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2 Comments on “Are you from Angola?

  1. I can kinda see this. When you were last in DC, I noticed slight differences in your accent. However, the southern accent was still alive and well!

  2. I can kinda see this. When you were last in DC, I noticed slight differences when we talked. However, the Southern accent is alive and well!

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