Monday, May 28, 2012

Mam woom ya! (I hear you!)

Everywhere I go, everyday, I hear children shouting, "SOLIMI!!  SOLIMI!! SOLIMI!!" (which means "white person" here in the north; in the south they yell "obroni" at you).  I wish I could say I'm used to it, but its one thing I'll never really get used to, and it'll never get less annoying.  But its just a fact of life here.  Somedays I handle it better than others.  But now I just use my favorite frafra/nab't phrase:  "Mam woom ya!" 
It all started one day when I biked to Zanlerigu with Alice a few months ago.  We went to the market and then visited her family house there.  I'm always nervous to enter villages I've never been to before, because the attention I get from everyone- men, women and children- will be at an intolerable level.  But yet I always endure it.  So as we were riding past the school to get to the market, a bunch of schoolchildren were yelling, "SOLIMI! SOLIMI! SOLIMI!"  So I waved to them, assuming they would stop yelling at me if I acknowledged them.  Well, they just kept on yelling.  I was so fed up with all the yelling, I yelled right back, "MAM WOOM YA!"  It did the trick, they shut up.
Well Alice thought this was the most hilarious thing ever.  When we got to Kongo she started to tell everyone about what happened, and it made us both laugh.  It eventually got to the point where I would meet friends and they would yell "solimi" or "kongbon" over and over just so that I would yell "mam woom ya" back at them.  Everyone finds it hilarious.  It gives me a good laugh too.  So now this is my catchphrase in Kongo.  Even the children in my village know the story so they will yell at me to get me to say it, and then they'll giggle.  Its kind of cute, even though the origin of the story is not so cute. 
Its also a very useful phrase in Bolga when you here Ghanaians talking about you, and you catch them by surprise by saying "Mam woom ya."  The expression on their faces is priceless everytime, and usually it does the trick and shuts them up.

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