“Thanks, I Have Colonialism to Thank For That.”

The first interaction I had with someone coming to the United States went as follows:

Person X: Hi, I’m Person X.
Me: Hi. I’m Fikiswa.
Person X: I like your accent. Where are you from?
Me: Thanks. Swaziland.
Person X: Switzerland? Cool! I’m Vietnamese. That’s how you pronounce it in your country? Do you speak French?
Me: No. Swaziland. In Southern Africa and no, je ne parle pas le francais.
Person X: Oh but you just – okay. How come you speak such good English if you’re from Africa?

Okay – hold on. So here I was, speaking to a non-American asking me how I speak English, in English, when they are not English themselves. I was tempted to reply, “Same way as you I guess – colonialism.” Instead I resorted to, “International School.” Person X was the first person to be surprised by my ability to form coherent sentences in the English language, but definitely not the last as the next couple of weeks were packed with, “You’re from Africa? Wow – your English is so good.”  That line to me is not a compliment and I will tell you why.


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