Wednesday, August 4, 2010


One of the most notable things about Liberian culture is the importance of greeting someone before any interaction. You want to buy rice from me? First ask me how I am and how my day has been and how I slept and how my family is. Ok, now I will sell you rice.
Greeting people is especially important for someone like me who sticks out, although sometimes I think people are more interseted in getting my attention than just exchanging a friendly greeting. And if I accidently (or not) not greet someone who was trying to get my attention, I'll be chased down and asked why I don' want to talk to them (as happened this morning on my way to work. Oops).
In training we were taught the basic Liberian-English greeting of 'Hallo, How da body-O?' (How's your body/how are you), with the typical reply being "Tank God" (Thank God for what Im not sure....maybe that I have a body or that my body is ok or that my body isn't your body? I should really ask someone before I start tanking God for things that I shoudn't be).
The how da body-O thing has been working great, but it certainly isn't the only way people like to strike up a converstaion. Most commonly I get "waz up" (there you have the American culture seeping in!), thumbs up, and frantic waves from, what I like to call, my spectators. A popular saying to go along with (a.k.a. to be yelled as loud as possible) the frantic waves is "Hallo white woman, Hallo white women, Hallo white woman!" (in which my usual reply is "Hello black woman/man/children!"). Even if they don't think its funny, I do.
The men are notorious for "Hey, you my jew" (which is really "you my jewel" but the "el" gets dropped off and lost somewhere. Its meaning is similar to being someone's "boo" in northeast Philly). I never answer to this one. It drives me crazy.

A new attention grabber came yesterday when children started jumping up and down, yelling "Are you my mudder (mother)?" and "Yor my mudder!" I laughed and waved, no point in arguing.
Although, I have been stopped on the side of the road by a mudder holding her newborn baby so she could ask what my name is ('wha yor nee?' in Liberian English). She said she wanted to name her baby after me. I let out a laugh and then walked away as she was cooing something that sounded remotely like "Andrea" to her baby.

Tank God I'm not da baby's mudder. Just da nee giver and certainly no one's jew(el).

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