Am I african?

by - 20:36

During the time I was attending YALI program in South Africa a south African participant asked me which language I speak in my country and I told her "Portuguese" and she asked "You only speak Portuguese?" and I said yes, then she told me "You are lucky because you only speak your language in your country". She was referring to the fact that south Africans are 'forced' to speak English. This was my first time in South Africa and I didn't know English was not their mother tongue, I was surprised to know that they have 11 languages and they speak all fluently until today...

I am not Portuguese, I am Angolan but I speak Portuguese since I was two years old. My whole family speaks Portuguese, in school, I was taught in Portuguese. I am not lucky because I don't speak my language, I don't speak my language at all and I don't even know which language is mine. I heard my grandmother once or twice saying random words in kimbundo and some Angolans songs quote kindubndo sayings to make it deep and that's it...I don't even know what it means. Angola has six national languages: Kikongo, Chokwe, Umbumdu , Kimbundu, Nganguela and Kwanyama.

I didn't realize the issue until I met south Africans and their hunger for ownership, now I understand that English's for south African are the same as Portuguese for Angolans, they are natural handcuffs... Portuguese, British, French and every other nation from Europe who colonized us who enslaved us are still controlling us.

Even though everyone in South Africa speaks fluently English they still speak one or two of their dialects, it's a way of fighting for their own, for standing for what is naturally them. South Africans are "rebels of hope" they speak Zulu every day, they greet you in Xhosa, compliment you in Sotho, sing in Swazi and so on...

I was amazed by their courage to maintain something so valuable. I found myself wanting to learn Zulu and understand them because they spoke it all the time, they didn't even care if you spoke English or not. That's when I understood their passion of being African for fighting to have Africans dialects alive.

Yes, I understand English is a worldwide language and it can take you anywhere but how can you feel connected to your land without knowing which language your comrades used to cry, the language slaves used to scream their pain, the language your grandfather proposed to your grandmother...

South Africa showed me their leadership and how they ran their country...Their pride of being African spoke to me... I heard several stories about their habits and customs - how until today they still allow their kids to go to the mountains to be a man; how a man still needs to pay a certain amount to marry the girl of his dreams; how they still eat traditional food everyday without the shallow notion of "dieting is eating healthy"; etc.

I couldn't see any European influence within them...Yes, they are influenced by European's fashion, entertainment, technology, sports and so on...but they are just trends. It doesn't rule South Africa, they still have the last word! Those things don't define them...They are very Africans and proud; they talk loud, dance spontaneously, behaves carefree like any other African.

For me, PERSONALLY, Angolans are scared to be African because of how African is correlated to being black (eg. African-American in America are black people),  and how black is connoted to be something evil...I don't want to engage in a discussion about nationality and race...I am black,  I am African and I am very proud of the color of my skin and the place I was born. For this reason, I think Angolans should be more acceptive of their continent and conserve our national treasures.

Africa is my heart.

Lunga Izata
14th June 2016

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