A Note About Accents

Dear fellow Ghanaian/other African now living and studying in America/other Western country,

I understand that when we come to America we are forced to slur a little in order to be understood by our American friends and so that we can have conversations without having our accents analyzed. But when you are among your fellow people from the Motherland, please please drop your attempted American/other Western accent. And there are a couple of reasons why you should do so.

1) You don’t need to speak in an accent to prove to your fellow Africans that since leaving the motherland and beginning University in *insert name of Western Country here* you have become more educated and have changed. The change we’ve all experienced will inevitably show and you really don’t need to slur every word to prove it. And in any case, we are in America with you so there’s really no need to prove to us that you’ve come to Amurrica.

2) No one is giving awards for who sounds more assimilated and, truthfully, our attempts often sound pretty ridiculous so let’s do each other a favor and speak like we did for the 18 years before we came to Amurrrrrica. Besides, these attempted accents really just stifle our personalities. This is not to say that we shouldn’t learn to pronounce some words the correct way in instances when the version we’ve learnt is plain wrong but proper pronunciation does not equate to slurred and twanged words. There’s a distinction between mispronunciation and slanging.

3) No one likes the constant feeling of being an ‘Alien in New York’ and so we often try to blend in but when we are with each other and you whip out those accents you are creating a barrier – except this time it’s with your own people. Also, do you really want me to believe that after 3/4 years you’ve forgotten how to enunciate your t’s? Listen to Kofi Annan – after years of working in the UN I can still hear the sounds of Ghana infused in his words.

4) We need to be proud of who we are and where we are from. When you speak with someone from the motherland in these forced accents it sounds like you are trying to hide where you’re from. I’m not sure if you succeed in fooling yourself but you are certainly not fooling anyone else. Regardless of how much you slur, we are all still aware that you are from the Motherland – accept it, own it, and know there’s nothing wrong with that.

Ultimately, accents are really about navigating spaces. Personally, I often really miss home and there’s nothing I love more than speaking with my people in the way that’s most natural to me. So those who insist on speaking in forced accents, please don’t deprive your friends from the motherland a chance to be natural and at ease. Drop the pretense and let us, through the lyrical way we speak and the infusions of our ‘ah’s, beh’s, mtchews, and other sounds I cannot attempt to spell, be taken back to what’s familiar

Written By: Zahra Baitie


Note by MM: I know, I know, I’ve been the worst blogger in the world *dodges rocks and shoes*. Lately, I’ve just been…uninspired… Also, I’m currently working on my thesis, which is threatening to consume me. That’s my official excuse. The unofficial excuse is that I’ve been lazy. But I’m trying this new thing where I take guest entries. So if you have a motleymusings-esque rant about anything and everything, email me ­čÖé (motleymusings1@gmail.com). I’ll be back, guys, I promise. Until then, enjoy these rants from these brilliant guest bloggers.

This topic is definitely one that I would have gotten to. Spent my Christmas holiday in Nigeria, and it was like I died and woke up in the Fake Accent Olympics. Like, sister, you said you study in Ukraine, right? So why do you have a BritAmerican accent? And why does your Nigerian accent slip in there like an unannounced visitor? Something doesn’t add up…