Reminiscing about my Francophone upbringing

“What happens when you get caught speaking your own language [not French] at school?” These are a few things I spoke about in my presentation on the influence of French culture on Francophone Africa, from my own experiences, to (semi-interested) high school students today.

The countdown has begun, and we are at 8 days from the end of college days. With every presentation I do, I realize how much I love Public Speaking. In fact, one might say that I have the Professor Syndrome. Ask my family and they will explain. Ask my friends about a movie-watching experience with me and they will explain.

Speaking of movies, I showed a part of “Kirikou and the Sorceress” and they became more interested in it, than the talk. No surprise there. By the way, it’s a great cartoon movie to check out if you haven’t seen it. It’s on youtube, but as always, American audiences have hangups about the nudity in it, though it’s contextualized. I did warn the students about it, so I think they were cool with it.

We also passed out the handout  from this poem I remember memorizing in primary school. It still moves me. I think it was during the period when I got bitten by the Public Speaking bug.

It’s Afrique by David Diop, taken from Blogging in Paris. I remember reciting this and actually feeling it.

A

frique mon Afrique
Afrique des fiers guerriers dans les savanes ancestrales
Afrique que me chantait ma grand-mère
Au bord de son fleuve lointain
Je ne t’ai jamais connue
Mais mon regard est plein de ton sang
Ton beau sang noir à travers les champs répandu
Le sang de ta sueur
La sueur de ton travail
Le travail de l’esclavage
L’esclavage de tes enfants
Afrique dis-moi Afrique
Est-ce donc toi ce dos qui se courbe
Et se couche sous le poids de l’humilité
Ce dos tremblant à zébrures rouges
Qui dit oui au fouet sur les routes de midi
Alors gravement une voix me répondit
Fils impétueux cet arbre robuste et jeune
Cet arbre là -bas
Splendidement seul au milieu de fleurs blanches et fanées
C’est l’Afrique ton Afrique qui repousse
Qui repousse patiemment obstinément
Et dont les fruits ont peu à peu
L’amère saveur de la liberté.

A

frica my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun
But a grave voice answers me
Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
That tree over there
Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
That is your Africa springing up anew
Springing up patiently, obstinately
Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
The bitter taste of liberty.

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