By Daniella Djiogan
A year did pass, or should I say 10+ months. At the beginning, it felt like an eternity, but right now, it feels like all was a dream that lasted 10 hours or less.
As I am sitting here, reflecting on my thoughts, my journey, I have come to realize that I have a little confession to make. I haven’t been totally honest with myself and with others.
Up until now, I never realized I was dishonest about the most frequent thing I did in China; which was to answer the question “Where are you from?” I have always had to answer this question even in the states, because of my slightly noticeable accent.
When someone asked, I just responded with pride “I am originally from Cameroon” then the question that often followed was “Where’s Cameroon?” and I would again naturally say “it’s located in central west Africa or to make it easier, it’s the armpit of Africa”…disgusting right…but visually accurate. Simple and straight to the point.
I had a huge problem answering that simple question because in China, most people idealized America. They loved the American lifestyle, tv shows, music, culture, etc. On the other hand, that wasn’t the case for Africa. The conception of America was like the land where milk and honey flows, but Africa was the dungeon, infested by sickness & poverty …so sad right?
So, for someone like me to have had the opportunity to have lived in both continent (N.America & Africa), and who could identify with both cultures, it was really hard for me to honestly answer the simply question of “where are you from?”
That question tormented me lots of time because if I answered “I am American” then the likely response I got was “Ohh, you are American…wow! That’s so cool!” While on the other side, if I answered “I am from Cameroon” they would kinda smile and shy away.
And because of that, I began to slowly conceal my Cameroonian heritage because I didn’t want to be treated badly….like an outcast. I was already black in a black-disadvantaged environment, so I sought what was best for me….what will make my life better…do you blame me for doing that???
I now realize my lies, and I feel terribly sorry for abandoning my culture for almost a year.…I missed being Camerican (Cameroonian and American). May be that’s why it all felt like a dream. But all is well. I am waking up to reality, to appreciate my culture, my reality, and myself.
image from iwantcovers.com