“You are not an African-American – You are an African living in America.”

Name: Ami B.

Country of Origin: Sierra Leone

Those are words that were said to me by my mother. Originally from Sierra Leone, I came to the States at the tender age of 6 due to the civil war in my beloved country. As I grew older and became accustomed to the American way of life, my mother always made sure to remind her children of their African roots. Outside of the home, you were free to carry yourself in whichever manner, but once you returned back home, my mother would not have to say a word and just by her presence, you would know that you have entered HER household; her AFRICAN household. And I say “African” as if it is an adjective.
In my African household, education was and still is the most important matter to my mother – without it, she believed one had no future; you also knew your place as the child – you must obey your parents, whether they were right or wrong; you had no opinions on matters concerning you since your parents had the last say in all affairs; slaps and beatings were so routine that I became numb to it after some time because there is no such thing as 911 in an African household; your parents also gave your many uncles and aunts permission to “deal with you” in such manners if they were not around; and last but not least, anything that happened at home was not to travel past the front door.

For all the reasons stated and more, I grew to despise my African household. I believed my mother was too strict on me and at some point, I started to believe that she hated me and/or did not love as much as she did my siblings. But, as I grew older (and wiser), I came to understand the reasons behind my mother’s actions. Being her firstborn, she felt the need to guide and protect me so that I would set good examples for my younger siblings and she did not want any of her children to suffer from the lack of opportunities like she did. Even though I have vowed to never raise my children the way I was raised by my mother, I find myself becoming more and more like my mother everyday. Despite all I may have experienced in my African household, I would not have had it any other way. I am who I am today because of my mother. And for that, I will forever be grateful.

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8 Responses to “You are not an African-American – You are an African living in America.”

  1. Pingback: “You are not an African-American – You are an African living in … | The African American Black Blog Directory

  2. Frenard Ganda says:

    This piece is eclectic, revealing and it touches a deep chord in all Africans I believe. I connect to it on a different level because as an African myself, I was brought to the States at an older age though, however my mum mum was always a dictator anyway.

    I find it amazing that with such stringent approaches applied by our parents, we still manage to turn out balanced, or are we?

    I understand that you being a first born made her want to make you exemplary to your following siblings…it is a pressure that I know.

    Interesting enough, much as I thought that you were very against it all together, surprisingly at the end you say that you are slowly becoming like mama!! Hey, how did that happen is what I want to know. Is it happening subconsciously or are you deciding to be that way?

    Freddy

  3. Frenard Ganda says:

    GREAT WORK!!!! Got me teary eyed for a minute. Why so short, I need more of it….

    • That African Girl says:

      Hi Freddy,

      We’re glad to hear that you were inspired by this writer’s story. If you’re interested in sharing your own story, don’t hesitate to let us know.

  4. I love this post. I have thought about writing something about the way I was raised and how it has made me the person I am today, but I haven’t sat down to do so. We have similar upbringings in which our parents emphasized education. We were all great athletes but our parents stressed school much more than any athletic accomplishments. I even remember getting grounded from soccer (which got me a full ride to college @Butler University) for acting out at home and in school. At the time I didn’t understand how or why my parents would stop soccer but now I completely understand. Now at the age of 28, I still play soccer, but my education pays my bills.
    My last year of college was when I began to really want to explore more about my culture. I studied abroad in Ghana (because Sierra Leone was still in turmoil) and had an amazing time. When I returned back to the States, I knew that I wanted to go back home to help my people. I came back as a new person. Now I am working on a website called African Ballerz in which I hope to glorify the African athletes here in the states for their accomplishments here and abroad in hopes to unify them and do charitable events and take money and resources back to Africa. You have inspired me to write my story out and hopefully I can get it done this week:)
    Thank you again for the great read!
    Hadiatu Dumbuya

    • That African Girl says:

      Hi Hadiatu,

      We’re so glad that you could relate with this writer and that you were inspired to reflect on your own experience. If you’re interested in sharing your story with us, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Part 2 of the series starts in a few weeks.

  5. I just saw that a reply was sent although this is a year later. I would love to be included:) Let me know what I need to do if its even still available! hadiatu03@gmail.com

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