If there’s one thing you can tell about me from the instant you meet me, it’s that I’ve lived a relatively comfortable life. How? Well, it’s all in the twang really. ‘But that doesn’t mean anything coz anyone can twang’ you say? Well then tell me what happens when that person switches to vernac’? Usually, they sound like any other person that speaks the language but for me, my twang penetrates the mother tongue. This added on to the fact that my ability to speak my language is severely limited, is what makes me fit the definition of a ‘Coconut’.
The word itself means nothing to me. It’s the feeling I get when I realise that I have a handicap that really gets me. I’m a short, dark-skinned Zimbabwean gent that high key looks Senegalese so I can take a joke; High School was my baptism of fire. Getting pulled over and almost arrested because “[I] look Nigerian” and have an expired license disc is just another day for me. The pain kicks in when I’m having a polite conversation in a taxi about change and the other person spots my fault. This usually ends up with them having to bend over backwards to speak a language they’re uncomfortable with, just for my sake. That shit is barely bearable but the moment someone dismisses me immediately because of it, I’m broken.
Now I’m not an idiot, I know that this isn’t a disability but merely an inability that could easily be rectified. My only goal in life is to be as fluent in my home language (and maybe a few others) as I am in this lingua franca. But when I look at my family tree I can see a long history of assimilation. I am, well according to my father anyway, a descendant of the Lozwi tribe; a people that once controlled the greater part of Zim. This tribe was later conquered and they assimilated into the Ndebele culture. It should come as no surprise then that I was born into a Christian home.
This is where most people get very touchy though. They believe me to be a lost child of Africa while they practise an imported religion. The irony in this is mind boggling but I can see where the lines are drawn. Because it is less commonplace to lose your tongue, people like me will get chastised. The only difference being that I don’t see my home language as something evil but they may see Ancestral Worship in the same light as the Cult Of Satan. Compartmentalisation is at the root of this. Our minds solve the problem of us wholeheartedly believing in two contradicting ideas by keeping them separated. This is the same trick it uses to deal with our fear of the unknown and the certainty of our deaths; it’s all so we can just keep it moving.
So what point am I trying to make? Well, this article is littered with topics that could (and probably will) trigger very heated debates between me and those closest to me. But before they scream ‘off with his head’ let me leave you with this: It’s very important to understand the implications of a belief before adopting it. The severity of my assimilation doesn’t negate the existence of yours. We’re all lost by definition but until we start looking around instead of looking at the pack, we’ll never find our way home, Gretel.