“Ebieh mou fey,” my mother said to me.
“I want some food from the chinese store,” I replied.
My mom said, “Didn’t I tell you to respond back to me in Mandigo?!”
“No English at all,” mom said.
I said, “How come.”
“You think you American now huh huh,” my mom said.
I replied, “I was always American…”
My Mother Aissata Camara and I always have this argument about why I don’t want to speak our language back to her. She’s always trying to make me speak, for what? I don’t understand the importance of speaking it back to her. Every single time I respond back in English, we always just go back and forth with each other.
Mandigo is a special language that comes from Cote D'ivoire. My whole family speaks that language. The first language I ever learned was English, but I knew how to speak Mandigo like it was my first language and as if I was from Cote D’ivoire. We usually speak in Mandigo to each other whenever we gather together as a family for a whole day.
“Nahya,” my uncle said to me.
“Alright.” I responded back to him
Uncle, “Why you always want to speak english all the time like you american boy?”
“Because I want to speak english,” I said.
“You used to be good good boy until you get older forgetting about our language and hang with them american boys,” My uncle responded.
I said, “I still know Mandigo and I never forgot about it and I’m still a good boy…”
My uncle said, “No, no you want to speak english all the time.”
“Sometimes I respond back in english and sometimes I respond back in Mandingo.” I said.
I also said under my breath, “Maybe I do want to be a fully american sometimes stupid, annoying ass family….”
My family and I always have this big huge argument about why I don’t want to speak the language. I know as a kid I used to speak Mandigo all the time, but ever since I started 3rd grade that was when everything started to changed. I started to speak english on a daily basis. I started to speak Mandigo less and less with every passing every week. My family and I were getting to argument more and more as I started to speak less Mandigo. The argument was about the same thing over and over. I thought they would never stop with arguments in my ear every other day.
I don’t know if I was shy about knowing a whole different language or if I just didn’t want to speak it. Sometimes when my mom speaks to Mandigo to me in public, people always stare at us like we are crazy and we aren’t from this Earth. When my family are together and we are in public and they are speaking Mandigo, I just sometimes space myself away from them like I don’t even know them. It’s not even about being shy, its about being bullied and many other things. Part of the reason I stopped speaking Mandigo is because I used to get bullied because I spoke something different and because it sounded weird to other people who didn’t know the language. I used to get called many different horrible words at school by students.
I was used to getting bullied and getting called horrible names and words, when I used to go to ESL. I was born in the United States of America, but I still had to go to ESL. English was my first language, but I didn’t know much of it. I used to speak more Mandigo than English. Every single time I used to come back to class from ESL or my ESL teacher used to come to my class and pick me up I used to hear them call me out of names. The bullying stopped when I stopped going to ESL classes and started to speak english more and more better. I stopped going to ESL classes because I passed the test and they said I didn’t need it anymore because of my huge improvement.
Why do my family care so much that I don’t want to speak Mandigo? All of these questions zoom in and out of my head. Why, why, why is Mandigo so important to this family? Most other families lets their kids speak in English, most of the kids I know don’t even know how to speak Mandigo. My family should be grateful but all they want to do is argue all the damn time. I understand my family wants me to pass down this language down when they die and when I have kids, but I don’t want my kids to go through what I went through when I was younger.In the future, as of today, I will start speaking Mandigo more to my family. I won’t be shy and try to hide that I know a different language. I will just be Fodie Camara and just be me and won’t be someone different or even try to. My family and I perhaps will stop getting in huge arguments about how come I don’t speak Mandigo anymore. They won’t have anything else to say about me speaking Mandigo because I will be speaking it more. As far as my future kids, they will be learning this language also so they can pass it down to their families and we’ll keep it going on forever. I finally understand why my family doesn’t want to stop speaking Mandigo.