August 12, 2021

What is She Saying


Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Malika Bakayoko’s mother and father come from different tribes, with different languages. Their language in common was French, so that is what she learned at home and school. Now she longs to feel comfortable with her tribal families, but she cannot even talk to them. She must always turn to her father and say, “What is she saying?”


Mom is christian, dad is muslim
Mom is ébrié; dad is dioula
So they speak in french
neither of them taught us
the language of their tribe

“What is she saying?
Everytime i hear the language
of my tribe
“What is she saying?
I ask my father
translate it for me

During ramadan we make dua
they never do it in french
I don’t understand what they say
I don’t understand what they say
i am guessing that it was profound

“What is she saying?...

i don’t want my children to be like me
I’ll be sure my father teaches them
if you don’t know where you’re from
You don’t know where you’re going.
You feel like a stranger in your tribe

“What is she saying?...

Sometimes i hide my last name
People, people know my tribe
they speak
I don’t understand them

“What is she saying?...

Story Source




Field Recording

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