Never forget where you came from and what makes you, you.

Never forget where you came from and what makes you, you.

“How is the family?” my father asked my uncle Lyee

“ Good, we in America how bad can it be?” uncle Lyee reply with a laugh.

“Where are the kids?” My father asks.

“ FATAMAAAAAA and HAWAAAA!” Uncle Lyee yelled out my cousin’s names but they didn’t answer or come so he told me that they were in their room and I should go and call them. My father reacted to the way my uncle spoke to me but said nothing. My uncle spoke to me in English but my father thought he was going to talk to me in Mandingo.

 “ Hey, uncle Musa!” Fatama and Hawa greeted my father in English.

“How are you guys?” my father asked in Mandingo.

“ Good, we didn’t know you guys were here.”  Before they could finish their sentence, I kept taping their feet so they would answer my father in Mandingo but they didn’t understand the message.

“You guys don’t know how to speak Mandingo anymore?” my father asked with an angry.

 “What to you mean uncle Musa?” Fatama asked my father in English again.


My father told her that this is exactly what he was taking about. Every time he asked them something, they always answer him in English. Then he turned to my uncle and asked him why his children responded in English when a person is talking to them in Mandingo? My uncle didn’t have an answer to the question. My father also said that no family of his is going to avoid their native language for a language that you speak, rather you like it or not, because is what everyone around you speak. He also told my uncle that kids would not know the important of their native language until the parents show their child that their language matter. Mandingo is not taught in the school they go to but English is, so kids can’t learn Mandingo anywhere else but home and if he doesn’t speak Mandingo to his children no one else would. From that day on my uncle spoke Mandingo in his house.


One day after school one of my American friend Jennifer and I came into my house to do our homework. We met my father in the house. My friend and I greeted him in English. He noticed that I didn’t want to speak Mandingo because I was with my friend, but he ignored it. Jennifer and I started talking about how our day was while we were doing our homework.

“ You and Maya weren’t at lunch today.” I said to Jennifer.

“ Yeah we was” Jennifer replied.


Out of nowhere my father asked Jennifer what she had said.

“I said we was….” Jennifer repeated nervously.

Then my father told her that she should never say, “we was” because it not proper English. The right way is “we were” not “we was.” from that day on Jennifer never said, “we was” again. Even if she was about to say it, she stops herself then said “we were.”

When Jennifer left, my father told me that he had to talk to me about something, Even though I knew what the conversation was going to be about, I still acted like I had no idea. He said that he notice I didn’t want to speak Mandingo because Jennifer was here. I told him yes.  He said if I would had spoken Mandingo in front of Jennifer she wouldn’t had been amazed and would had want to learned how to speak it because she only know one language which is English that she can’t even speak proper in. He said that I should be lucky I know more than one language because most children in America one speak one English and half of them don’t even speak it proper. What make me different from most of them is where I’m from and the language I speak.


James Baldwin said “My “home” tongues are the languages I speak with my sister and brothers, ” This shows that he tongues switches and he feels like he doesn’t have to talk to everyone the same way. The world may not understand his home language it is because is not for the world to hear. It is for his brother and sister to hear and understand.

I feel like James Baldwin and I share this quote because my sisters, my brother and I no longer speak French because we were so busy speaking English in the house. When my father noticed it, he told us that he brought us ot this country to learn, but also not to forget everything we knew. He said he allow us to speak English in the house because he didn’t know it was going to get in the they way of the other two language that we speak. Learning a new language doesn’t mean trashing the old one. It just means you are capable of speaking three language and not that many people are able to do. Although we can’t speak French anymore my parents still speak it and Mandingo to us, luckily we still know how to speak Mandingo. From that day on to now we are not allowed to speak English in the house.