An African's Queen

Observations of an African Man's Western Woman

Why Acknowledgement is Important

For westerners who live/ travel abroad it is very common to simply ignore one another. Often times if we hear a similar accents we might be inclined to walk in a different direction. Consider how many times you’ve walked passed a fellow foreigner and barely glimpsed at them let alone said hello or shook their hand?

This rudeness is considered socially acceptable, after all you don’t know them and there are so many foreigners that you can’t possibly acknowledge everyone. Really, what purpose would it have? You’ll never see that person again.

As Sanni & I were walking along Riverside the other night we observed some Africans sitting and talking among themselves up ahead. I wondered to myself if Sanni knew them and as we approached Sanni stopped and said in Pidgin English various greetings as he shook their hands.

Questioning him about this he told me that as a fellow African it was respectful to acknowledge one another because you were each out of your own country. By acknowledging the others existence you’re saying, ‘I show you kindness because in this foreign city we’re a part of a small community; one day our paths may cross again.’ Sanni explained the importance of first impressions and how you never know what your future interactions may be. Ensuring he has acknowledged them was a sure-fire way to leave a good impression, one of diplomacy and the greatest respect.

In the eyes of his kinsmen, had he ignored them and kept walking with me he would’ve sent a very strong message that he didn’t need his countrymen because he had a western girlfriend. This message would’ve been relayed among the community and it would’ve only tarnished his reputation and further strengthened the negative stereotype that Africans date western women for their social status.

Westerns may look at this custom as exhausting, especially given the ratio of westerners to Africans is much higher but I think we could learn from adopting a greater sense of community that this interaction implies.

As a traveller we look at social interactions abroad differently to those of Africans. We don’t need each other the same way Africans need each other. The common trait of an African is that they’re not abroad to travel but to gain experience they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten in their home countries. This creates a bond and patriotism among them, and one that westerners could not possibly duplicate because of the vast differences between our countries.

When you are next out side your country and you see someone who looks like you, talks like you and shares the same culture say hello, offer assistance or simply show kindness. Not only are you helping to build a good reputation for your culture but you are also sending out a very clear message that you’re a great person; trust me, word travels.

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4 thoughts on “Why Acknowledgement is Important

  1. The Swerve on said:

    Whenever i have been abroad – regardless of the accent i hear i say hello to everyone i can.

    Sanni was right about leaving that impression as you never know who you are going to meet the next day or maybe even couple of hours – by showing another individual the smallest sign of hospitality regardless of your location it will help you get along in your daily life.

    Both of you seem like a very good match. I hope it works out.

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    • Hey, thanks for coming reading another post! It’s great to have you here! And thank you for the compliment of Sanni & I.

      I’m glad that you extend greetings to all people when you travel. Do you think it’s easier to do while you’re travelling or is it possible while at home too?

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  2. You have a very interesting blog and I love how you seem to be looking at things with a different perspective. I’m Southeast Asian and I think at some level an African’s experience in the western world is similar to our experience. If you have a relationship with someone white, you’re intentions are questioned.And similarly, when we see each other outside of our own countries there’s an immediate affiliation. And yes, one must acknowledge the presence of the other.I’ve also read your other entry and I am glad that you decided to write about these things. The view is different and reading your blog, also makes me understand how the westerners view thing. Diversity runs deep, its not only in the physicality, but in how we experience things.

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