15 Mar 2013

African-European: A Fiction

thelovetree
Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction, is a story about a little biracial girl, half African and half European, who at some point in her life she comes to the crossroad between choosing which race to belong. (For clarity, in the story European is predominantly white, and African is black)
*****

   "These Africans are taking over..." said my uncle while we were all eating one Sunday afternoon.
 
I was only seven years old at the time. He looked at me across the table. I smiled. He continued his conversation not giving much weight to me. That day my mother had combed my hair into two plaits and I was enjoying the summer weather with all my favourite people in the world, my mummy, my daddy my granny, my uncle and his new girlfriend. The conversation kept flowing and I kept myself busy eating my lime-yogurt ice-cream.
    "What do you mean?" my mum asked with an angry tone. Daddy always said that mummy is always cross. So I assumed she was her normal self.
    "What?" my uncle asked.
    "What do you mean by the Africans are taking over?..." mum asked again impatiently.
    "Just what I said, they are taking over these Africans... I'm not talking about you... you are like one of us, right?" my uncle said laughing.
Mummy didn’t take it well. She began her usual tantrum, as daddy pointed out. Sometimes I thought I was more grown up than she was. Daddy thinks so too. Sometimes mummy would say something like
     "You are more clever than me..."
Most of the time I did my homework with daddy, in the mean time my mummy would lay on the day-bed in the living room watching telly.
     "You better not..." mum laughed in the end, bringing me to reality. So they are just joking... I let out a relieved smile.

The following day, i
t was last day of school before the summer holiday, and due to the heat I decided to wear my favourite dress, the one my grandmother from Africa sent me for my birthday. It had tropical flowers, spaghetti sleeves with some material hanging from the sides. I loved it.
For the past week I’ve been looking forward for the snack break. This was kind of party held to celebrate the beginning of our summer break. When the bell rang, together with my best friend, we ran into the hall. I was looking around when I heard a guy from the senior year say:
      "You African, what are you doing here?"
 
I turned to look right and left to see who he was talking to but apart from me and my friend there was nobody else.
     "Is he talking to you?" I asked my friend, but she shook her head and pointed at me. I was surprised. What did he mean by that phrase? Nobody has ever told me I’m African and my uncle will never say something bad about Africans if I’m one.
    “You are mistaking me for somebody else.” I said as the seven-year-old-who-knows-everything would.
 
     “Listen to her, these Africans are all the same... they think they can hide behind beautiful masks, vu compra’. Have you ever seen your ancestors on the road side selling fake designer bags?” His words moved something inside me. I wanted to slap him but what he said next stopped in my track “That her nature. That’s what they do in Africa, they run after the predator...” he laughed.
Tears were streaming down my face I’m not African, I’m not African... my inside shouted at him but I didn’t find the word to let him stop hurting my feelings.
     “Look at how savagely she is dressed...” he pointed at my favourite dress.
 
His friends who have appeared from nowhere were laughing as well. My friend sneaked away from my side. I felt so alone. I was holding the drink I brought for the party. Instinctively I shook the bottle hard and before they could notice what I was about to do, I opened the tap. The content sprayed the hall and all the children in front of me. They started to scream and in less than a minute the dean and his assistant appeared.
 
    “What are you doing, you little African...” I’ve never seen the dean before but his words cut sharp through me. Instead of listening to the reasons why I had to do what I did, he called me little African. “I will call your mother straight away...”
    “Maybe you should phone the father, because the mother is African, she won’t understand.” His assistant whispered loudly in his ear.
I was livid from the situation. I had to wait in the corridor, so everyone was finger pointing me and whispering distasteful words into each other hear. My best friend was shyly hiding from the crowd. I lowered my head so that I didn’t have to witness the scene around me. I felt like a big circus joke.
When my father came I felt a little bit of relief. Everyone was more considerate, the dean kindly explained the situation.
 
    “No, we won’t treat it as misconduct, because after all she is a good... girl...”
    “I’m so sorry again; maybe it’s the mother who is having a bit of problems with her parents in Africa, that might be the reason why my little girl is easily irritated by certain words.” I heard my daddy giving reasons for what that boy had provoked in me.
Once in the car I asked him the burning question: “Am I African?”
    “No, you are European and never let your temper overtake you like you mother. Your mother is easily irritated because she’s African.”
    “So Africans are angrier than Europeans?” I asked.
    “Yes...” In that moment I thought daddy is trying to make me feel happy, so I didn’t question why if mummy is African, I’m solely European.
Once at home I told my mummy that I didn’t want to be always angry like her. She didn’t say anything, instead she went to my father and they begun to argue. My daddy is right Africans are angrier, I thought.

That way of thinking was part of me until I met my cousin, nine years later. He was exactly the same colour as me not too light or too dark skinned. He was about fourteen years and he was tall for his age. He was wearing his curly hair loose. He looked quite wild...
The instant he saw me he hugged me and said:
    “Oh, the little lucky girl... you are just like me...”
    “What do you mean I’m just like you?” I asked with my snorted voice. I had developed that voice since the school accident, I didn’t want anybody to think I was African, so I tried hard to speak completely different from my mother.
    “Hey, you are lucky because you are Afro-Euro just like me.” he had a bright smile.
    “What do you mean by Afro-Euro?” I rolled my eyes at the sound of Afro.
    “It’s means African-European...” he laughed throaty laugh
    “I’m not African...”
    “Hey, what do you mean you are not African... you are half African, half European...”
    “I’m European, full stop.” I don’t like this cousin. Somebody come and take him away. I screamed inside, but outside I was composed, just like an European.
    “Where is your mother from?” he asked, expecting me to answer.
    “Europe?”
    “Obviously, but originally?” he has patience, I thought smiling.
    “Okay, Africa?”
    “Right! And your father?”
    “Europe?”
    “Right again... so who are you?”
    “European?” I shrugged
    “Wrong answer... you are African-European.!” He said smiling hundred teeth.
    “I’m European and that is it, thank you very much.”
    “You don’t know how lucky you are to have both culture on your finger tips, girl.” He was quite funny. He wasn’t that bad after all. “So, why do you choose to be European, full stop?”
I looked at him blankly; I didn’t feel like I wanted to tell him about my bad childhood experience. But in the end his bubbly subtle ways convinced me to discuss with him my issues. He was still young but with adult mind. He told me about his aim in future and that sounded great. He believed that he could bring together the increasing community of two culture relationship and children into one big forum, where everyone could discuss the issues of being biracial.
I’m so glad that he is my cousin and thanks to him I love to be recognised as African-European.
 
The End
 
*****

3 comments:

  1. This piece is so poignant! Very touching. Little kids can be so cruel. You relayed the little girls story beautifully!

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  2. so vivid! I could picture it all happening. your words are so alive

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  3. You write beautifully TOI, and I love this story. I sometimes wonder if my future kids will struggle with their identity, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when we get there.

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