The Cultural Influence Of The United States Essay

1441 Words Sep 23rd, 2016 6 Pages
“Nayizemana Syizere Nancy”.
They never got it right. Year after year, I watched teachers stare at their attendance list as they wondered how they would articulate this unfamiliar succession of syllables. A few capitulated before uttering a sound. Others apologized before butchering my name. The other pupils laughed, either amused by the awkwardness of the situation or mocking my otherness. The discomfort and derision that my name provoked constantly reminded me of my position as an immigrant in 21st century France.

I was born in Kigali, Rwanda in October 1996. My parents, a freshly upper-class young couple, named me Nancy Cyizere. Rwandans’ first names tend to illustrate the legacy of 20th-century Evangelization and European colonialism, for mononyms were the norm. Nancy, an Anglo-Saxon first name, highlights the cultural influence of the United States. Surprisingly, after bearing this forename for almost twenty years, I feel little ownership over it. Nancy is like a nice jacket I borrowed from a friend years ago and never gave back. It fits well enough and I have been wearing it for so long that everyone believes it’s mine. However, it will always be that jacket that I kind of stole from a friend.

In Rwanda, children typically get their own surname which they keep until death. My last names, Nzeyimana and Cyizere are rooted in optimism and disenchantment. I was born fifteen months after the end of the 1994 Genocide, during which nearly a million people lost…

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