In this video, I take on the persona of a 3rd grader and reflect on my teacher’s insistence for us to pronounce certain words in a British accent. Using this persona helps me to keep my narrative simple and adds an element of innocence… I think…
You are welcome to take from it what ever you want. Through this video, I am making a comment about how in many African nations, but particularly Zimbabwe, European culture is esteemed more than indigenous culture. I am asking myself, why is it that Mrs Fogurty insisted that we pronounce our words the way that she did, yet she probably could not speak a word of Shona or Ndebele? Why is long straight hair better than short natural hair among black Zimbabweans.
In saying this, I am in no ways attacking white Zimbabweans, European culture or black Zimbabweans. Instead, I am trying to process this for myself and in so doing trying to understand my identity. In my opinion, the whole system is messed up. Black Zimbabweans do not promote tradition as much as they ought to, thus they fail to challenge the lingering ‘white is superior’ undertone that exists in many aspects of Zim society, but particularly in group A private schools. They don’t promote it because to them it looks ‘backward’..what ever that means.
At the same time, white Zimbabweans don’t try to adopt local culture and see no real value in questioning this superiority complex that stems from colonial mentality. They expect the world to speak to them in English. As they laugh at Shona accents. Why do we join them in belittling ourselves? It’s not that they cannot try to integrate, it’s that they just don’t try. Many white Americans can pronounce my full name well, yet my headmistress ‘struggled’ to pronounce it through out my 6 years of high school.
I hope that the next generation of Zimbabweans will be proud of the positive elements of their traditional heritage and that no body will laugh at 8 year old Fadzai for failing to speak like the Queen.
Just in case you are wondering. This story is true- if I remember correctly. Mrs Fogurty is a white Zimbabwean woman, and despite how she appears in this narrative, she was a really wonderful teacher. She decorated our classroom with an entire population of glittery fairies! I don’t know if she is still teaching at my primary school. Fadzai and I have remained really good friends and she is doing fine, despite her failure to say haaaair.