Anti Sudanniya?


The title of this post means are you Sudanese?  And it’s a question I tend to get from Arabs once they know I can speak Arabic…

The most recent incident of this was just today, My mom has been on my case to get her a Kibbe recipe, which I like a good daughter I got from one of my professors at school.  She then ignored the kibbe experiment after buying all the other ingredients except for the pine nuts, which she wasn’t really sure what they were. (despite having eaten kibbe tons of times).

At any rate, it looks like the kibbe will be prepared before 2011 or shortly thereafter, because after trying to buy some from the international grocery two weeks ago and them sending us on a wild goose chase, we stopped at the the local Middle Eastern grocery store.  The guy inside was helpful, even though at first, he was a bit confused about what I wanted since Arabs call pine nuts something else (snobar).

At any rate, while ringing up my snobar I asked the cashier if he was Lebanese, as I had heard him speaking on his cell phone in a the Levantine dialect and I erroneously assumed him to Lebanese.  He answered, no I’m Palestinian.  I don’t remember the rest of the details, but in the end he was a bit confused because he thought I was an international student.  ha ha!  I kept saying I’m an Arabic student and he thought I was saying I was an Arab who happened to be a student… lol…

“You speak Arabic, right?”  — my response “I’m an Arabic student”

He asked me if I was Sudanese and I was like, um no my family is from Sierra Leone…

I guess it was to be expected when a black chick walks into the store asking for the white seeds that go in Kibbe and speaks Arabic, but was not being clear.  I realize now I could have something like “I’m a student in the Arabic department” or “I study Arabic rather” than I am a student of Arabic….

it was a funny encounter, because it took me back to Morocco where I ended up just telling people I was Sudanese because they wouldn’t believe or just couldn’t get over that my real nationality was Sierra Leonean or American.  I could be Senegalese up until I opened my mouth and nothing sounding close to Francaise came out…. It’s just interesting I guess.

on the one hand, I guess my accent isn’t that bad, or else it would be awkwardly and painfully apparent that I am American.  Come to think of it, we had a guest speaker, a poet from Palestine a few months ago.  I happened to be in scarf/not trying to tame my poofy hair phase so I guess I looked a hijabi (confused the heck out of my new language partner who saw me for the second time the next week without a scarf and didn’t recognize me at all, but I digress).  At any rate, I asked some question or other during Q&A period.  While he didn’t say so to me, he asked the student coordinator if I was Arab!

I don’t take it as a negative thing at all, it’s just oober surprising when it happens, like uh, for real?  You think this fruit is that connect to the vine?… hotness.

So yeah, I’ve got no problem being Sudaniyya.  It sure beats people saying to me “oh your studying Arabic?” immediately after I say something in Arabic. The next time someone asks I might just say

اه انا سودانية مئة في مئة

(Yes, I’m 100% Sudanese)


3 thoughts on “Anti Sudanniya?

  1. I can’t speak much Arabic except for greetings and introductions but during my hijabi days I got that question often, Are you Sudanese? I remember laughing the first time someone asked me that but I’m pretty sure it was due to the hijab.

    Once I had a man speak to me in Swahili. He thought I was Tanzanian, again this was due to the hijab. I know it’s rare to see Nigerian women wearing hijab in England.

  2. When I was a hijabi, people usually asked if I spoke Arabic or spoke to me in Arabic and I wouldn’t be able to respond. No one ever really knew what I was when I wore my hijab. I think I’ve been asked if I were Ethiopian, and that was this year while wearing my favorite scarf.

  3. gazelledusahara

    It’s funny how people connect hijab with something besides a black/African person.

    ha, ha good to know that I am not alone… but really, sometimes I wish people would ask rather than assume things.

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