Every Immigrant Has A Story Like This

I wrote this piece a while back and submitted it to one of the big blogs in the African blogosphere in the hopes of being published as a guest author. But alas, I felt the sting of rejection :( On the bright side, this piece gets published anyway :D ….and since there are a whole bunch of you new readers, I would like to welcome you with a tale of one of my experiences from my early days of Australian life. If you enjoy the peace, make sure you leave a comment with a little anecdote of your own.

The Battle Zone

Five weary travellers rested their behinds on the isn’t-this-a-four-star-restaurant-why-are-they-giving-us-two-star seats. It had been a tiring, but exciting day. The travellers hailed from the land known as Africa (Cradle of civilization since the dawn of time, thank you very much). They had thoroughly enjoyed their day spent walking around, gawking and poking at these weird human beings known as Australians.

Weird creatures they were. Instead of speaking with their mouth like normal people, their words seemed to come from the end of the throat. They claimed to speak the language made famous by the Queen, but for some weird reason everything that came out of their mouth sounded like

“Robo, Yobo, Yeeennooouuuu mate!”

“Mate!”

That was the only word they had heard all day and they liked it:

“Mate!”

So as their backsides rested upon the varnished wood seats and they stared in bewilderment at the excess of spoons on the table (aren’t soup and food are eaten with the same spoon?..you must transfer flavour man) a “mate” of theirs came.

The battle of the wills begins

“Hello mate!” They all crooned like an out of tune choir

“Hello!” chirped a bright eyed, black haired girl. She looked like an Amber, so let’s call her, “like so totally Amber, Oh my God!”

Hmmm, the Africans knew they needed time to balance out their need to eat with their need to save as much money as possible. So they decided in the interim that image really was nothing and thirst was everything.

The matriarch of the group, confident as an MP declaring on national television that he will beat up his colleague, stepped up to be the first to speak to future cheerleader, Amber.

“I would like some juice!”

Amber stopped stunned! I would say she looked like a deer in the headlights but in truth she looked like the deer after being hit by a car as it flew through the air wondering what just happened.

“What?”

“Oh sorry, I want some juice!”

Who knew juice could be so deadly?

Amber’s eyes rolled into the back of her head looking for some form of truth in the woman’s words but came up short. Amber decided it was time to try and speak to this weird African woman:

“Did you say you want grease?”

“Juice!”

“Feet?”

“Juice!”

“Jebeet!”

“Dear Lord!” Exclaimed the woman and in her native tongue tried to calm her family, “Don’t worry, this woman is a retard. We need to speak to her in sign language.”

And so in that moment, the family engaged in their first ever miming group performance: They lifted their hands to their mouths. End of act 1. They opened their mouths. End of Act 2 With the smoothness of an impotent Marlboro man, they concluded the act by motioning for drinks to enter their mouths.

“Juice! Juice! Juice! Ya kukunywa! Ya kunyua!Drinking! Sippy! Sippy!” They all said in an effort to get a message through to the mentally challenged girl.

Finally, success. Her eyes glowed with the magnificence of an ember of fire that was just about to die but had just sparked back to life in its final moments.

“OOOOOOOOhhhhh”

“Oooooohhhhh,” the family said, thinking it was a round song.

“You want Juuuuuusssss!”

Everyone in the family restrained their urge to speak. They saw just what the matriach was talking about: poor girl, I wonder how they allow her to work with such a debilitating condition. She couldn’t even pronounce basic words.

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” They all nodded in Unison.

And to think that was all in their first day

And five minutes later, the lady brought some Juuuuuusss.

And with that ended the drama that was their fast day in this fresh new land. That episode quickly and easily made way for the drama that was still to come. Good times!

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No Comments

  • By Mo Ma, June 13, 2008 @ 5:47 am

    I was interning in this hotel last year and this Aussie guest whooshed past while vomiting a pile of words in my direction.

    I only realised a few hours later, after re-running that gobbleydook in my head, that he’d said “G’day, how are ya?”

    Don’t even get me started on this girl from Bristol I hosted (couchsurfing again, I’ll get to that post soon!) who spoke in a manner where I didn’t get every other sentence. I’m certain she thinks I’m mildly ‘touched’.

    Why can’t they speak like normal people?! Like us!

  • By Mwangi, June 13, 2008 @ 5:49 am

    @Mo: Lol! That last sentence was a classic:
    “Why can’t they speak like normal people? Like us!”
    You know, I betcha half the time they are thinking the same thing :D

  • By Mwangi, June 13, 2008 @ 5:52 am

    Btw, for those who may be thinking of coming down under and need a way of understanding those strange sounds that may come out of folks mouths your first months here, I wrote a little Aussie dictionary a while back to act as a starter guide: Australian Dictionary: Words and Expressions You Will Often Here While Down Under

  • By Carol, June 13, 2008 @ 7:27 pm

    I liked it,ngoja I will comment later!Made my day!

  • By Carol, June 13, 2008 @ 8:28 pm

    Ah,am back! Oh juuuussssssss! After insisting ya kukunywa!Sippy sippy, life out of the black continent can sure be funny; let alone shocking!
    @Mo: You know normal people do have their own way of speaking that leaves the others wondering too, as Mwangi said! Have met a few Australians but din’t find them ’speaking’ as wierd, but maybe our meeting was to short to get to that point.
    I think we all have had some experiences that we say, yes,this is damn different from home………..as for now,let me enjoy the french accent(when they speak the Queen’s language)! So……..unromantic (oops!)

  • By Mwangi, June 13, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

    @Carol: Glad I could be of service. During my first days down here, I really had no idea what people were saying, but now, the Australian and African ways of speaking English are what my brain expects and my brain is always shocked when I hear an accent of an American, though I hear them on TV all the time, because it’s so outside of what I currently consider normal English.

  • By DeTamble, June 13, 2008 @ 10:18 pm

    @Mo Ma: Is that you? The Mo Ma from the Ugandan Blogren? If it is then woah, the internet just got a whole lot smaller!

    @Mwangi: This post had me near tears! Fucking hilarious! You want grease?

  • By Mwangi, June 13, 2008 @ 10:28 pm

    @DeTamble: Glad I could get a chuckle out of you. Feel free to share some stories and annecdotes of your own.

  • By kenyandaughter, June 14, 2008 @ 10:47 am

    Mwangi uv not heard accents until uv had to deal with the Irish,welsh or scots and especially over the fone.

  • By Mwangi, June 14, 2008 @ 10:52 am

    @kenyandaughter: Aah, the Irish. There is always lag time between when we first meet and when I actually figure out just what you are saying. Once I do get it though, the Irish and Scottish accents are hands down favorites of mine.
    But I can imagine over the phone, and the thickness of the accent changes depending on who you’re speaking to, and then they have so much slang……yeah must have been hilarious.
    Thank you for stopping by, looking forward to hearing more from ya….now to check out your blog.

  • By gal africana, June 14, 2008 @ 11:14 am

    oh gosh! don’t get me on the Irish…I understand like jack all of what they say…kiwis (new zealanders) are second on the list of unintelligible English speakers…followed by some Italians who sound like they’re STILL speaking Italian because their accent is SO heavy…must admit…despite all the funny accents in Africa, it’s easy to understand folks because most enunciate the words…albeit, sometimes, the phonetics are all wrong…which makes for lots of fun :-)

  • By gal africana, June 14, 2008 @ 11:15 am

    started…dont get me started on the Irish…

  • By Mwangi, June 14, 2008 @ 11:21 am

    @gal: you konw taht expeirmnet wehre they jumbled up the letters in a word to prove the point that as long as the first word and the last word are where they should be it doesn’t matter how everything in between is positioned you’ll still be able to read the word (the name for that psychological principle is approaching the tip of my tongue), same thing can be said for sentences, if you hadn’t told me I would never have known that you missed the word “started”.

    That aside……seductive is when a Maori woman says the number six or seven in the Maori accent….I melt like soft butter in the Sahara. In short, me loves me some Kiwi accent.

  • By gal africana, June 15, 2008 @ 12:36 am

    haha…Maori accent huh? well…now if we’re talking about accents that melt stuff, I’ll go for the good ol’ British accent ala Hugh Grant or Colin Firth…they dont melt me…they set fires on!

  • By Mwangi, June 15, 2008 @ 12:52 am

    @gal: You know, I think I modeled my faux-accent on the British accent, Lord knows what else I mixed it with, but ever since I heard the character “Emily” from Friends speak, I have been an English accent imitator.
    As for Hugh and Colin, I may not get a burst of giddiness when they speak, but hands down, the two had the best fight scene in recent cinema.

  • By kenyandaughter, June 15, 2008 @ 12:53 am

    Gal africana,he he Hugh Grant does have a gud accent,but he does tend to get all posh at tyms.I love the scottish accent.the way they roll the rrrrrrr hata kikuyus cannot shika them ;)

  • By DeTamble, June 15, 2008 @ 12:56 am

    I like Welsh ones….ohhhh god they’re good!

  • By Mwangi, June 15, 2008 @ 1:00 am

    @everyone: Why is no one representing for the mellifluous flow of the fluent Kiswahili speakers?

  • By DeTamble, June 15, 2008 @ 1:29 am

    I like Kenyan accents. Which would be why I just stripped for one over webcam! :P

  • By Mwangi, June 15, 2008 @ 1:34 am

    @DeTamble: I never know quite what you are going to say DeTamble..I’ll give you that (shaking his head in amazement).

  • By DeTamble, June 15, 2008 @ 1:39 am

    LOL! I never know quite what I’m going to say either. Sometimes I even surprise myself. Why did I just strip for a dude in Nairobi? What the hell Tambles? Oh well. It was funny and I did oh-so-enjoy his expression.

Other Links to this Post

  1. One Thing We MUST Begin Doing NOW As African Immigrants - The Displaced African — August 15, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

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