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.