‘You are not one of us, me: why? They: Can you not tell by the way you speak?’
There came a point when I said fuck it (excuse my language, but these were my exact words at the time), this is me, it is always going to be like this, so I’m going to own my differences, this is the result of being brought up in two different cultural backgrounds and I’m going to own it as I love both
cultures for what they’ve taught me.
To be honest, I never thought the way I speak will result to me being addressed as a foreigner in my own country. Ok now, hold on, I’ve never been called a foreigner in the U.K. so I was very astounded when a cashier at a bank called me a foreigner because of the way I looked and spoke.
I tried to defend myself by saying I’m not a foreigner, I am Sierra Leonean but she has obviously made up her mind that I am a foreigner because of the way I spoke and by my appearance, so her response to me was ‘oh but you don’t live here.’ I felt hurt and I couldn’t stop blaming myself for not sounding like my people and looking differently.
One thing I like and at the same time dislike about some people in Sierra Leone, is that they are very blunt with things like this. For example, in other parts of the world, people will use signs, objects to discriminate against foreigners, but this is not the case in Sierra Leone, they will tell you straight up in your face. Having a tough skin is very essential when it comes to living in Sierra Leone.
This wasn’t the 1st time this has happened to me in Sierra Leone and it wasn’t the last either, it was a continuous reputation throughout my stay in Sierra Leone. No matter how hard I tried to speak like a home based Sierra Leonean, it never happened because I will still get caught by someone and they will tell me that I’m not one of them.
The other incident happened when I went to a local salon to get my hair braided and I got charged 3x the normal price, I got really angry because I had initially sent a home based Person to the salon to ask how much they charge, so I had that price in mind. Immediately they saw me and realised I sounded different from them, the price went up, again I tried to challenge them but the owner of the salon responded by saying ‘oh but you pay more than this in pounds’ they are so up to date with what is going on in London or in America. As soon as I got home, I told my dad that I didn’t get my hair done because they bumped up the price and my dad said ‘oh, why mak you speak to dem English (why did you speak English to them)? Me: ‘daddy but ar nor even speak English to dem (daddy I didn’t even speak English to them). These people know you are not one of them just by looking at you. No matter how normal I tried to blend in, I still stood out.
At the end of the day, I’m me because of Sierra Leone and the UK so I don’t aspire to be on one side, I’m so tired of all these labels, I just want to be a human lol.
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