It bothers me when people critic you by the manner of your pronunciation rather than the point that you are trying to put across, black people are not white therefore they should not be expected to or go out of their way to sound Caucasian. There is an unwritten law going around the black community that makes one socially unacceptable if you cannot “twang”, the whiter you sound the “smarter” you are perceived to be as you are regarded as being “educated”. I’m not exactly sure where this bullshit comes from but what I do remember as a kid growing up in the early 90s is that our elders were happy to see black kids attending multiracial schools and more often than not those kids who went to these schools were encouraged to speak English at home or with their friends as it was discovered that black kids struggled with the queen’s language. This is where it all went wrong, white became the new black and if you didn’t sound like Harry Potter then you were looked upon as being stupid.
South Africa has eleven official languages but we all share something miraculous and special, we all have the Mzansi accent, it is not necessarily black or white but it is distinctively beautiful, it is South African. Whether you speak Setswana, Zulu or even Afrikaans there is a certain resonance that you make when you speak English that can only be heard here at home, using words like “eish, ja neh, tjo”. It’s such a pity that those who speak like that are ridiculed by their peers. The sad truth is that people only start taking you seriously if you sound British or American.
I was driving home in the evening the other day as I was listening to Y fm, the show that was airing at that time was hosted by a lady of whom I thought was white up until she said her name, “Faith Mangope” she said, perplexed by this interesting phenomenon I quickly went online on my laptop as soon as I got home and I was astonished when I actually found out that she was black. She is not the only South African celeb with an overseas intonation, there are others like the singer Loyiso Bala, Bongani Bingwa from Carte Blanche yo I can go on forever. I’m not trying to disrespect the above mentioned citizens as I’m merely making examples of well known people.
It seems as if we the youth of Mzansi hate ourselves and we are somewhat struggling from an identity crisis, is this what Steve Biko died for? A free black nation that has an opportunity to first-class education but instead of being proud of our heritage and culture we tend to try and adopt western cultures instead? It all begins with an accent…the next thing you know we will be bleaching our skins and start adopting white kids like the late king of pop Michael Jackson did. I am not my accent so you cannot determine the level of my intelligence by my brogue, it’s about time that we South Africans start loving ourselves for who we are and start appreciating our heritage.