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18May

Dear Muzungu, I Don’t Mean To Be Racialistic But Would You Kindly Stop Being So Bloody Ignorant!

ignoranceIf there is one thing I hope I am not, it is ignorant. It helps to know what is going on around you and the world you live in. While I do not claim to know it all, I do my best to be as informed as possible while learning everyday.

I have learnt that it is wrong to assume because assumption is the mother of all mess-ups. Imagine a scenario, where you assumed someone you know was having an affair and then you did not check with them, as in ask discretely based on the level of relationship you have with them, what’s going on? Instead, you went ahead and opened your big mouth to someone else about your concerns, which by the way are unfounded. Only to find out years later, when the person’s loving relationship is over because of your  ignorance and lack of information that the person you saw them with was a friend and nothing more. How dumb thou art right?

Last week, I went to the theatre to see a new production, Love The Sinner, the focus of my review on 17 may 2010. During the interval, I say this with all due respect, a Muzungu and his group of friends were walking behind me. Believe me when I say, I was not listening to their conversation but I heard something that made me turn. I could not help but turn and give him the looks. It was not dirty, it was a look that simply said, you are so bloody ignorant.

I am sure you are wondering why I turned? Well, the play was set in Africa and the UK. While in Africa, the British characters encountered a young man by the name of Joseph, a porter at the hotel, they were staying in during their time there. Joseph as it turns out, is a very intelligent young man and speaks excellent English. I mean, his English is impeccable and dare I say, better than that spoken by some who own the English language. If a character like Joseph wants to say, we did maths at school today, he would not say,’We done maths, we done English and we done science.’ He would be sure to say, we had maths, English and science classes today but most certainly not ‘We done maths…’

So, my Muzugu friend on this day decided he was an African expert and in the course of his conversation with his friends as they dissected the play during the interval, said, ‘Africans, who work as porters do not speak such good English.’ When I heard that, I thought, hell to the no, he did not not just say what I think he said. So, I looked at him, like we say in Nigeria, ‘from head to toe,’ and smiled and kept moving. I think he caught himself and so, proceeded to tell his friends, ‘I know these things you know.’ It was best not to give him the satisfaction of being an idiot, hence, I did not say anything, the look was good enough.

I have to say, for  few minutes after that, I was thinking about what I had heard and was not impressed with him at all. So, I thought of every person, who just like him, thinks Africans who work as porters do not speak such good English and who knows, may not be as intelligent as the character of Joesph. Truth be told, some of us speak good English, even better than some of the English people, who own the frigging English language. I mean, I remember my school days, make a mistake and you will never forget the correction you got, in addition to your nickname, which may well be ‘Onibon of shooting stars,’ among the many names you could get for speaking bad English.

Please, do not get me wrong. I am fully aware of the level of uneducated people in Africa and the fact that more needs to be done within our education systems. I am not naive to think for a second that all Africans speak the best English but for my Muzungu friend to classify all Africans who work as porters the way he did was wrong. I would have him know, there are African porters with degrees, you know we love our degrees, centigrades and Fahrenheits in Africa, yet they work as hospital porters, security men and women among the many menial jobs they can find in London. There are graduates in Nigeria and other African countries, who have resulted to doing jobs they never thought they would end up doing in order to get by in life. So, take the high number of people who are educated but do such jobs and then tell me, Africans who work as porters do not speak such good English. I am sure there are some who don’t but you cannot say all of them. That is just ignorant in my own opinion. Now, to some, it may seem like I am fussing over nothing but I remember my early days in London, when my Benin accent was still thick, whenever I was asked where I was from? Which of course, I always volunteered the information, I got the compliment, ‘your English is very good.’ At some point, I was not sure if I should see it as a compliment or if they expected me to speak really bad English to prove a point but I went with the flow.

Hence, I am of the opinion that in the same way, my new best Mugunzu friend thinks Africans who work as porters do not speak such good English – I may well be wrong but he could also think there are a lot of other things we are not good at and cannot do. And so, the cycle of misinformation continues…I mean, who knows the next person he may speak to and tell them the same thing, and before you know it, an impression is formed and with the same ignorance that misinformation is repeated elsewhere…it may not seem like a big deal but that is how the vicious cycle of negative information starts. It starts with the little ones and soon, it will be the big ones too.

And that is why I say to my new best Mugunzu friend, with all due respect, I do not mean to be ‘racialistic’, but please, stop being so bloody ignorant about Africans or any group of people at that and classify them all as one. Every society has it defects, including the United Kingdom. Let’s watch what we say because words travel far.

Now, I know this title may offend a few, that is not my intention. I hope you see the humour in my title.

By the way, Mugunzu is the Swahili word for European person.

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4 Responses to “Dear Muzungu, I Don’t Mean To Be Racialistic But Would You Kindly Stop Being So Bloody Ignorant!”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Belinda Otas, Belinda Otas. Belinda Otas said: Dear Muzungu, I Don't Mean To Be Racialistic But Would You Kindly Stop Being So Bloody Ignorant! http://belindaotas.com/?p=2544 […]

  2. Hans Schippers says:

    lol
    this one is very funny and very true 🙂

    It’s unfortunate that having a degree doesn’t guarantee worthy working conditions or even a decent job. As evident from Chika Unigwe’s book “On Black Sisters’ Street”, among others, even many African prostitutes who work in Europe hold degrees…

  3. Myne Whitman says:

    And so, the cycle of misinformation continues…I mean, who knows the next person he may speak to and tell them the same thing, and before you know it, an impression is formed and with the same ignorance that misinformation is repeated elsewhere…it may not seem like a big deal but that is how the vicious cycle of negative information starts. It starts with the little ones and soon, it will be the big ones too.

    That part above is so true, and I think that is the worst thing about racism. Wrong information due to mostly ignorance.

  4. visitor travel says:

    Thanks for making the effort to make clear the terminlogy to the beginners!

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