One Week: Mary and Amina Matata

Sep 12, 2016

In this installment of One Week, Fort Wayne high school students Mary and Amina Matata recorded their thoughts for one week. The Matatas immigrated from Congo ten years ago.
Credit Google Maps

One Week is a new series produced by WBOI's Katy Anderson, and it's a pretty simple concept... we give someone a recorder, and ask them to record their thoughts and observations for - you guessed it - one week.    

To kick off the series, we'll hear from sisters Mary and Amina Matata. They're 15 and 17 years old, and their family immigrated to the US from Congo about ten years ago.  We gave Mary and Amina a recorder for one week to get insight on what it's like being African in Fort Wayne,  how media affect perception of Africa, and pop culture.  

On strange questions they're pretty sick of hearing: 

"...This man was like, 'Are you guys speaking weird, or are you guys like, from Jamaica or something like that?' I get this question a lot but it's always a shock to me. [People ask] 'Do you guys have food down there? Do you guys have clothes down there? Do you guys have houses down there?' The media doesn't give Africa justice, they only show the poor parts." - Amina

Mary and Amina discuss what it was like adjusting to American culture: 

"In my country, where I came from we didn't have white kids. We didn't have Spanish kids. We didn't have mixed kids. Everyone was black. Seeing the different races was something new to me." - Amina

"I didn't know English or anything so my background was different from the other kids. I was treated differently and people looked at me and viewed me differently... because I wasn't like them." - Mary 

Mary talks about being "the dark-skinned girl in the room":

"No matter where I go, or my age, I'm always going to be this color no matter what and I should appreciate it and love it more." - Mary

Mary and Amina Matata debate over whether a Nigerian artist's music will be positively or negative affected once she is signed to a U.S. record label:

"It's a good thing for her if she's willing to leave her African culture in Nigeria and not express herself as much. The music industry can change the way you look, the way you sound, everything about you. You have this pressure to get fan bases." - Amina

"We listen to Mexican music and we don't know what they're saying, but we still enjoy their music and the beat and how it's going. Even if they (Americans) won't understand what she's saying, I think they'll still like the beat."  - Mary