The green and wet rain forest, the ocean and lakes that surround the community of Robertsport and the beautiful morning skies; I miss it. I am a boy child from Liberia, West Africa. On the beautiful Atlantic Ocean with one of the last rain forest in West Africa we value nature and many other things. Liberia is divided into sixteen different counties where everyone speaks their own dialect but the whole country speaks English. Mostly, because free slaves from the United States bought Liberia years ago so they made the rules. We woke up every morning to the sound of the chicken. I crowing of the rooster in the morning let us know it is time to wake up. Every little kid in Liberia know how the chicken crows, it sounds like “kuku kururu, day na break. Which means the night is no more.
I had four brothers, two sisters and one orphan girl my mom was taking care of. My family did not have enough so I will say I grew up in a lower class family. My mother was a single mother raising seven children. Our mother is not educated but she installed in us the importance of education. I usually asked my mom “why didn’t you go to school?” Her answer was always the same. “ I didn’t have the chance, so you have the chance to change this. We grew up going to church every Sunday. My mother did not have a lot of mother to even feed the family but she made sure to give us money for offering at church. Everyone in Liberia believes that if you give your little or last to the church you will be blessed and get it back multiplied.
I grew up in a small town called Buduburam refugee camp located in Ghana. My family is from Liberia but during the civil war in Liberia my mother and 47,000 Liberians had to flee to find safety in Ghana, where the refugee camp was. Waking up to the sounds of guns is very different from waking up to the sound of the chicken walking around the town. The refugee camp was not the best place to be but it was the safest place at the moment because there were security and international volunteer there to help the refugees live a better lives.
International volunteers used to come to the refugee camp to help build school, hospitals and build wells for safe drinking water. The first four international volunteers I saw, two were from the United States and the other two were from Spain; but in my mind all white people were from the United States. Most people on the refugee camp though the same about all white people are from America, but this changed after I asked them where they were from and they made it clear that all white people are not from the United States. After I met most of the international volunteers I realized that there is more to learn from them than just knowing that all white people are not from the United States.
My house was about two blocks from where the international volunteers lived, so I decided to visit them once in awhile just to talk and create a friendship. I visited them most weekends to learn about America, Europe or where they were from. I wanted to know how they speak and what kind of food they eat. Literally I wanted to know everything about their cultural identifications.
Two cultural identifications that I have been interesting in discussing are gender and race. I will start with gender because it is a big issue where I come from. In my home we value and respect our mothers, sisters and wives. We will do any or everything to protect them because we were raised to know that they need our help to be successful. We were raised to know that they belonged to us, so it is our job to protect them. At a young age our parents teach us to respect women at any cost. As young boys our parents or older brother make us understand that we cannot beat our wives or any girl, because if we do that it means we have just fought our mother. In our culture disrespecting your mother is the last thing a child want to do. It is known to be a curse if you disrespect your mother.
However, one thing I do not see as respecting women is making them feel like they belonged to us. I do not agree with the fact that a human should belong to another human; moreover, unwillingly. We were thought that our women are responsible cooking, cleaning, taking care of the family and being respectful to their husbands. Than the husband will be the muscle that provides food, money and resources to take care of the family. Yet, I learned that women are more intelligence that’s why it is their job to take care of the family. So most of the time the women would use theses things as advantage to behave more intelligent to prove to their husbands that they are right, because women are intelligent. Men are more important than women so they are invited to the meetings and the decision making for the community.
Race is another cultural identification I’ve always been interested in learning more about. I wanted to know why certain people hate others and where it all started. Growing up my family usually talked about the racism in the world but I had no idea what different race looked like. My parents mostly told me that the white people enslaved many black people in America who were sold to them by other black people. The mindset some African who are still in Africa feel about white people is that they all hate blacks. There is a saying “ they may smile in your face, but talk behind your back”. That is the saying my parents used when I told them I was a friend with a lot of white people from all around the world. For example, I brought an international volunteer to introduce her to my mom one Sunday after church. The international volunteer name is Megan; Megan is one of the sweetest people I know. But when she arrived at my house my mother seemed scared. She introduced herself wildly and she sat a little far away from us. I realized that she still believe the saying about white people.
After Megan left I asked my mom why were she scared? Her response was “ you know the saying about white people”. I started to realize that these (Slavery) are things my mom heard, and the white people from years ago did it to blacks. SO she was scared that every white person is the same. I asked my mom if she thinks Megan will make her slave and she answered I don’t know. That was when I realized that my mom did not believe that Megan had the same value as us. Which is to love everyone as yourself. She thought Megan (white people) is way more intelligent than blacks so that is why they start to be your friend and after they hurt you. It took Megan and me many visits just to ensure my mom that Megan is a nice person, not like those white people who enslaved our ancestors. After a few weeks, my mom and Megan was the best of friends I’ve see at that time. Seeing my mother and Megan friendship I got to understand that they literally had the same values. The cared, loved and also care for others. When Megan is with our family she tries to behave like us, which we told her to be herself. When that was said, Megan would want to go to movies with us, she would want to have a cookout; she wanted to go to the beach with us. She was behaving like the American way, which was really nice because the kids got to enjoy the company of an American.
My parents always told me to treat people equal because we all are equal in the eyes of God. While on the refugee camp, my mother became the international volunteers laundry lady. She did their laundry with her bare hands every week, because of that she did not do her nails because it might ruin when she is working. Example of my family treating everyone equal is when an African American woman came as an international volunteer. She wanted my mom to do her laundry for free while the white people pay. My mom told her NO, because it will be unfair if she does not pay.
Most of the things I talked about in this paper are learned from my parents, mostly my step day. He was the most experienced person in my life at the time I met these people. He was the only person in my household who went to school and graduated from high school at the time. We looked up to him because we thought he was highly educated, but not I know that there were more to learn and that he was not highly educated. On the other hand I got to understand that he was teaching us what his father had taught him. He was building us in the same shape his parents built him. He heard and talked about slavery a lot so most of the things I knew about what happened in the slavery era were from him.
Everything he said was not accurate but everything he said was from a place of anger, frustration and betrayal. He always felt that our own people betray us by selling black to Europeans to be slaves. After moving to the United States the media have helped me to understand what really happened during the slavery era and the day-to-day war women have to fight to be treated equally.
I related the cognitive difference in my mind of other people’s culture in this paper. However, I have always view the word in a way where everyone has different level of power, and that depends on your economic standing. I also related the evaluative aspect of our lives into the paper as well. After writing this assessment I have a few area of culture I would like to know more about before the end of the semester. I would like to learn the difference or injustice people face in there our country/tribes or native groups.
I would like to understand why people from the same country but different tribes hate each other, even though they are the same race or color? Because the civil war that happened in Liberia was fought because one tribe woke up one morning saying they need power from the other tribe that was in power. I want to understand why the leaders do not create conflict management to stop these types of conflict before it escalates. These are issues that I grew up in; these are things that need fixing in my country. I am looking forward to changing this so I would be really excited if I can get a little exposure in these topics before the end of the semester.