Our topic in the presentations in pairs was Englishes of Africa. At first, I wasn’t supposed to be in this group because each group was supposed to be a group of pairs, but then I was adopted into it. The topic never really interested me much before especially since I went to high school with a lot of Lebanese people who were born in Africa (Cote d’ivoire, mostly) and migrated back to Lebanon after the civil war erupted there. I used to tutor some of them in English seeing as their base is French and their English wasn’t really strong, and I came out of this experience generalising all African individuals. I didn’t think that some of them might be going through the same internal conflict that I was going through. Which is my first language? Why am I more fluent in another language than my mother tongue? Shouldn’t I pursue a career solely in Arabic literature or am I a sell-out?
My part of the presentation was a Ngugi Wa Thiongo book review, which means that it’s not what the African writer himself wrote but what someone else thinks of his writing. The author of the review is also white and far from having an African English. I’ve always been scared from reviewers especially since I’m friends with a bunch of them. They can be harsh. And they don’t know what the writer is truly going through as he put these words to paper. It’s part of why I’m hesitant in publishing a book. However, the author of this certain book review wasn’t harsh, and they showed actual interest in a topic that wouldn’t typically be considered interesting to white men. I suppose skin colour, nationality, languages and the land we stand on do not define who we are and which country we belong to. We define it.