Why Don’t You Change Your Accent?

To the people who ask this question. Markus Spiske for Unsplash

Why should you stop asking accent based questions or joking about it you ask? Well because it is racist, connotes hypersexuality, is classist and damn right a promoter of cultural imperialism.

Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudices towards people based on their race or ethnicity. If your race has names like ‘Susan’, ‘Chloe’, ‘Miranda’, etc. as normal. Well, there’s also another race that has ‘Mbatha, Kachukwusicho, Abena’ etc as normal. So, when you see someone with a name different from what you know and you ask them —‘Do you not have an English name?’ or you see food that you aren't familiar with and ask for the English name, let it be known to you that you’re racist. You’re being racist for assuming that there is some inferiority in not being named after what you know. Accept that my name is Mkupulumma Chizoba Adaugo and my accent has only been trained to pronounce these and nothing more.

I have never heard any folk listen to any African accent and assume it was a beauty to listen to. But when Gregory from London or Alba from Italy talks to you, you jump at the sound of their words and utter —‘Your accent is so sexy!’ Then, you go ahead to bully and break people who do not sound like Gregory or Alba and force them to sound sexy. Shame on you for that. English, Spanish, French, Latin, etc are NOT the only languages that sound awesome. Have you ever been to Lagos? Have you been with a man from my city? When he speaks to you in the Yoruba language, everything you ever knew will crumble.

The ones that piss me off the most are the ones that expect that money, fame, success or influence can change where you’re from. Legendary musician and performer Beyoncé is quoted in one of her songs saying ‘…earned all this money but they’ll never take the country out of me’. Basically, no matter who you are, you’re supposed to protect and uphold your background. Award-winning author and activist Chimamanda Adichie has over 4 honourary doctorates degree yet you’ll never catch her speaking anything other than the language tongue she grew up in. Stop asking people classist questions such as—‘You still sound like that after 4 years of living in London?!’ or ‘So you still talk like this even though you’re rich?’ Yes, I do and will continue to. Periodt!

Cultural imperialism refers to the creation and maintenance of unequal relationships between civilizations, favoring a more powerful civilization. Save for Ethiopia, all of us in Africa were colonized by a western country and as usual for oppressors, they forced their beliefs, lifestyle, and language on us. Till this day, some of these people make statements like — ‘I can’t understand you, could you repeat yourself slowly’. Er, you colonized us for years, so hell yes you can hear us. You heard us well enough to communicate with our chiefs and brainwashed them into selling us to you as slaves. Also, stop asking us to ‘Speak properly.’ I AM speaking properly, deal with it.

This message also goes to black, indigenous folks. Stop walking the path of oppressors and set yourself free. Let your sisters and brothers breathe and speak in peace; however, they can and however they like. No matter how harmless or innocent the question is, it sucks and reflects one of the above.

Ban the teaching of accent and the elevation of one language over the other. Rather invest in proper diction, pronunciation, and comprehension of words and languages.

Novelist, poet, and editor. Academic in the making. Purchase my books here—http://stephanieodili.com/books/

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