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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Language Barrier

Yesterday when I was taking Jeremy to school, Fatai said to me, "Excuse me, Madame." I said, "Yes." He said, " While you were traveling, I lost my brother." I think I was still a little jet lagged because I immediately thought, how do you lose your brother. Were they in a market and he wandered away? I said, " You did?" He said," Yes, he died." I told him how sorry I was to hear that. Then, I thought about it. I wasn't sure if he was talking about his biological brother or a "brother" from his village. So, I asked him if the brother who died was a "brother" from his village or if he had the same mother. ( In Nigeria, mostly the Nigerian men will tell you that someone is their brother. You can be some one's brother if you are in the same tribe, if you are from the same village, if you are a good friend, etc. It took me a while to realize this...I was beginning to think everyone in Nigeria was blood related.) After I asked him that question he said, " Yes, ma'am...his mother is my junior mother." Yeah...I had no idea what that meant at all! so, of course I just nodded and said ,"Oh, okay." So, I asked Happiness if it was a Nigerian thing to have a junior mother. She started laughing at me. I explained to her what Fatai said. She told me he probably didn't know how to say he told me that his "brother's" mother was his junior mother. But really it was his aunt...and his brother wasn't his brother at all...but a cousin. Hopefully you can understand all of this because it was just as confusing to me. I think Fatai and I are still getting used to talking to each other.:)

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