March 20, 2005

Africa is on my mind today, after the gathering last night, in which I had the pleasure of conversing with a delightfully eclectic bunch of others who are either native Africans or, for various reasons, have lived somewhere on that vast continent. So, I am now perusing a learning-Swahili handbook I borrowed–we’ll see how I progress in that.
But, my inspiration, for blogging purposes, leads to 2 thoughts for the day:

Thought #1: A story about my little brother:
When we moved to the U.S., he was 5 years old–old enough to be his characteristically precocious self but not yet old enough to fully comprehend things such as race and ethnicity. So, upon our arrival, he heard, for the first time in his life, the term “African American.” His little mind processed that term, thinking “Hmmm . . . I was born in Africa and now we are here in America. That’s what I am–I’m an African American!” And that is how he spent the first year or so here in the U.S.–proudly introducing himself, and my younger brother [both blond and green-eyed] as “African Americans” to any strangers he may happen to encounter. This lasted until some adult heard the comment and wisely warned Alex against continuing such a potentially imflammatory habit . . .

Thought #2 : Your kikaonde useful-phrase language lesson for the day:
If you ever travel to a small village called Mukinge, in Zambia, Africa, you may want to practice this phrase–Mundeka leka mambo mwane. Kechi nayuka kikaonde ne.
What, you mean you want further explanation that that? Okay, fine. That means “I’m sorry Sir/Madam, but I do not speak kikaonde.” And, I specify that this phrase will only be useful in that particular village because I’m afraid it is only one of, at last count, 72 different tribal languages in Zambia alone . . .
And there you have it.

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