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Stop telling me I have a fake American accent – Makau Mutua

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BY PROF MAKAU MUTUA

Some Kenyan nitwits keep telling me I speak with a fake American accent. Well, I’ve had it with them.

Today, I will take them down, and put them in their place so they know better. But remember, this column today is half parody, part fact, while the rest is a smorgasbord of vignettes.

Even so, I am dead serious because you can teach lessons in all three vectors.

Fact – those who haven’t gone beyond their village believe accents are immutable and frozen in the museum of antiquities for all time.

Fiction – accents are natural and genetic. Parody – mimicry, or imitation isn’t the same thing as fake. Now, I’ll peel your eyes even if you are dumb, and can’t speak.

Very few things about humans are truly genetic, or fixed in anatomical biology. Much of what we are, including our bodies and our anatomical functions, are largely environmental products of socialisation.

Most body parts are socialised in particular ways to perform specific functions, or experience certain sensations.

That’s why the word “natural” is a misnomer in lexicon to describe what we do.

Much of our lives are controlled by something we call “civilisation” or “morality”; that which is normalised and acceptable according to community standards.

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For example, in some ancient societies it was normal to kill twins who were believed to be evil. Gays or lesbians, for example, were revered in some American Indian or native American communities. Let’s first debunk the notion of cultural, or anatomical, fixity.

Notions of determinism, or the essentialisation of the human, or anything else, is the trap of the illiterate, the uneducated and the unsophisticated.

The village idiot, who doesn’t necessarily live in the village, has a very small intellectual canvas with which to work. Sadly, many village idiots live in the biggest metropoles in the world, including Nairobi.

Conversely, cosmopolitans – those with the largest and most discerning brains – live anywhere. The former suffer from simple minds. The latter are perpetually on a journey of personal jihad of self-liberation from myopia, or intellectual metastasis.

The way we view language, and the phenomenology of the accent, separates the villager from the cosmopolitan.

Let me use myself as a guinea pig. I was born in Kitui Township and lived my pre-teen early life there. Later, still in my teens, I lived in the State of Illinois in the United States for more than a year and then in Kikuyu where I did part of my high school at Alliance.

In between, I spent substantial periods in Nairobi. My point is that even in my teens, I was exposed to a very wide swath of cultures and environments in addition to my nativity in Kitui. This is not the normal life of most teens. I consider myself lucky to have been moulded by diverse cultures. It’s a priceless gift. The most important variable in political society – especially in a democracy, or in the struggle to create one – is to learn to live with difference with ease. Ideally, a diverse existence should allow one deep introspection about “the other”.

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The Other, in the language of high theory, refers to the identity of he, or she, who’s different from the “standard” self, or the accepted identity of those from the hegemonic, or dominant, group.

The process of “othering” is therefore the diminution of the humanity of those who don’t belong to the dominant or accepted group from which standards of beauty, civilisation, and power are drawn.

“Othering” excludes, subordinates, dominates, and displaces the humanity of the targets of the hegemon. Language – how it’s spoken and understood as a labour of the intellect – is one loci of the othering process. That’s why accents are so important. Your accent – and how well you understand and can speak a language – usually determine your social status.

But only if the language in question is a hegemonic, or dominant, language such as English, French or any of the imperial European languages.

Speaking great Kikamba, Dholuo, or Gikuyu unfortunately won’t raise your social status and elevate your social recognition in most places.

That’s why I so admire writer Ngugi wa Thiongo for fighting to decolonise how we view African languages. But I digress. Access to material resources therefore determines your linguistic acumen and accent.

Your accent is a product of all your environments and social statuses combined.

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If a Kenyan lives in Tanzania for a long period, or from youth, his Kiswahili will be Tanzanian and won’t be spoken with a Kikamba or Gikuyu accent.

Even in America, there are different accents of English based on region and level of education.

We learn language through imitation and mimicry – usually from childhood. I have lived in America for close to 40 years – that’s most of my life.

I would either be uneducable, impervious to my environment, or simply deaf and dumb if American English hadn’t deeply influenced – unalterably – my accent. That would be sad. Accents aren’t fake.

Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of KHRC.

-Nation.co.ke

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Diaspora

Deep-dive Analysis: Studying Master’s At University Of South Florida

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BY BOB MWITI,

Have you ever wondered what it takes to study your master’s  in America?. Well, in this episode of Success With Bob Mwiti Show, I take a deep-dive analysis of taking your master’s at the University of south Florida. If you like my work, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

A Little Bit About Me!

I am a former international student in USA and I am a senior IT consultant in the areas of Oracle EBS Financials and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) here in USA. I am the programs director of Appstec America – A consulting company based in Tampa, Florida, USA.

I’ve been blessed to have learned a lot in my career as an IT consultant. My life has truly changed, and I’ve made it my mission to give back and serve others beyond myself. Whether that be helping you to relocate to USA as an international student, train you as an IT consultant, help you start and build your own online business, creating your financial freedom, motivating you to pursue your goals and dreams, to being more productive, to inspiring you to constantly improve yourself.

My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of through my various self-development training programs.On the internet, I openly and passionately share my life experiences and all of the very best concepts, strategies, tools, and resources that I continue to discover that have made a measurable difference to my life, and will do for you as well.

READ ALSO:   Kenyan man in US: Yes, I defrauded two Universities of over Shs 75 Million

Keep your dream alive and never give up! To learn about my company’s amazing programs, please go to;

www.appstecamerica.com or www.successwithbobmwiti.com

Contact me at;
success@successwithbobmwiti.com
info@appstecamerica.com
+1 813-573-5619 ext 402

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Diaspora

Kenyan man goes missing in US, police ask for help in the search [VIDEO]

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LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) – Lawrence police are seeking the public’s help in their search for a missing man, officials said.

Daniel Mwangi, 31, has been reported missing, officials said on Thursday last week October 8 2020,he had previously complained of a headache and was advised to see a Doctor

The last day he was active on Facebook was Friday after which all his electronic devices went off

Anyone with information is asked to call the Lawrence Police Department at 978-794-5900

Anybody with information of Daniels’s whereabout is requested to contact:

Joseph #617 256 9043, Diana #781 475 7420, Pastor Karanja #617 784 5729

or call the Police Department nearest to you.

 

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Diaspora

HOPE: 36 year old man who scored D+ in Kenya now has 5 degrees from US universities!

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

They say when one door is shut somewhere, a window – or even another door – is open someplace else. The story of US-based Mwangi Mukami reads like fiction.

In his own words, the Kenya education system wrote him off when he got a D+ in his high school exams (KCSE). However, upon landing in the US (where, by and large, people are judged by the content of their character without laying too much emphasis on past failures or mistakes), he embarked on a journey to fulfil his educational dreams.

He went back to school and, as we speak, he has just received his fifth degree at the age of 36. Many Kenyans in US can can relate to Mukami’s story. It resonates because many of them – or their friends and family members – had lost hope in Kenya but the United States offered them a second chance. Now they have their well earned degrees which they would otherwise have only dreamt of. We must add a rider here that although there is no doubt that  opportunities abound in the US, you still have to work very hard to earn those degrees.

Here is Mr Mwangi Mukami  in his own words:

BY MWANGI MUKAMI
I have just received my graduate diploma from UC Berkeley. 20+ years ago, Kenya’s education system wrote me off as a failure because I had a D+.
I remember vividly saying to my peers that I wanted to be a policymaker or an attorney. Their response was a burst of collective laughter and sneer. But here I am—five degrees at 36. I hope God grants me a long life, success, and wealth to open doors of opportunities for more D+ students.
For the misfits, the rejected, and the oppressed. Congratulations to my mom. The degree is a reflection of her tenacity. I am grateful and honored to have wonderful brothers and sisters who support and trust my ability to achieve: Elizabeth Mwariri Keyym Peters, Lissa Irvenne Kayte Khulgal Jeph Collins.
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I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement of Kay Ventura, Carol McCrary, and Betty Mc Crary Alarms, And I can’t forget Elizabeth Woods for the many nights she drove to take me to school.

Jim Foti for the countless recommendation letters Joe Beasley for initial grant to attend a community college.

I am because of all these people and I couldn’t be so grateful and honored to have them in my life. For Nick, the next step is a JD.

Image may contain: ‎text that says '‎THE REGENTS OF THE University of Calitornia ON THE NOMINATION OF THE FACULTY OF THE RICHARD AND RHODA GOLDMAN GRADUATE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY HAVE CONFERRED UPON MOSES MWANGI MUKAMI THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS WITH ALL THE RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES THERETO PERTAINING GIVEN AT BERKELEY THIS FIFTEENTH DAY OF MAY IN THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND AND TWENTY OVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA AND PRESIDENT THE REGENTS yat n,ב ESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY CurolT. Chrish CHANCELLOR AT BERKELEY ag...baly מAפם THE &. braly SCHOOL‎'‎

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