“ROOTS” With A Twist

a re-post from August 26, 2010


“I am more African than, you!”

(Athol Fugard, author)

Stuck on geography ... actress Charlize Theron.(Charlize Thiron, actress)


(Nadine Gorimer, author)

Jonathan Zapiro

(Jonathan Zapiro, political cartoonist)

This challenge has been hurled at me far too many times for me to count.  Actually the first time was in New York, when my French Moroccan dentist stated, “I am an American Citizen…I suppose that makes me “African American.  What do you call yourself? ”


When I moved to France, things started really getting bizarre….

Over the twelve years  I have been living in Europe, I have come to realize I have some kind of strange Karma.  The kind of karma that seems to propel Africans in my direction in social situations…The Caucasian kind!!!!

No kidding.

“I was born in Zimbabwe,” a blonde-haired, blue-eyed acquaintance states, “My husband is American.  I am more African than you!”

“I was born in Cape Town” says a fellow guest at an Obama campaigne event, “I have been an American citizen for 10 years.  I am an African American…you are not!

“I was born in Namibia… I am an American citizen!  I am more….”

I think you get the picture.

The Caucasian African American citizens I have met…and lately they have been numerous, let me tell you… seem to all be extremely possessive with the term “African American”.

Actually, I don’t blame them.

I’ve never been South of Luxor, Egypt, myself.  My family…both the European and the African…arrived in American before the Revolution and my Native American ancestors…well…you know….

What these Africans are not aware of, though, is that I personally never referred to myself as an “African American.”  Once we left “Negro” I stuck with the adjective “Black”.  Black American seemed more precise… from an American viewpoint, anyway.

I always thought the terminologies “Afro-“ and “African American” were simply trick bags. Some kind of underground movement designed to confuse and contort American perceptions of something.

Caucasian African American citizens are welcome to the term “African American” as far as I am concerned.  The ones I have met have families who have been in Africa as long as mine have been in America.

Besides, if both their parents were born in Africa, they would be more African than President Barack Obama.



This is a reprint of a Blog I wrote last year at the beginning of the tourist season here in the South:

J’en ai marre !!!!!

The tourist season has officially begun here on the French Riviera. What always arrives with the hordes is the inevitable and harsh criticism of French driving habits.

I’d like to intercept a bit with this blog before the Anglophones really start getting flagrant down here!

Everyone knows that anyone’s life can be irrevocably destroyed by an intoxicated or mentally disturbed driver on the road in any country by a driver of any nationality. My question is why have the French, in particular, been given such a bad rap as drivers?

I have been recipient many times of French driving hospitality. What I have found is that my French friends and acquaintances have displayed skill and grace at ever turn…so to speak. It’s no wonder, I later learned, considering what they have to go though in order to earn the privilege to drive in their country.

How may of you who have criticized the French actually studied for the French Permis de Conduire?

Drivers License

Too scared, right?

And I’m willing to bet…too broke!

Then, that means you don’t know bupkis about anything French.

Want to know how I came to this conclusion? Because it is expensive, difficult and studying for it would actually result in an evolution of thinking that would cause you to realise that you had no prior knowledge of what it takes to understand of the Gallic approach to manoeuvring safely through life in France. My philosophy is in order to criticize the French you should have been educated in France and taught by the French. How else can one understand the cultural nuances of a country which has the power to seduce millions of people through its doors, whether they be rich or poor, yellow green or blue, to a place which is probably the most complicated in all of Europe? Even people from rich and powerful countries are willing to test their fate in a country which for years will render them functional illiterates!

Years ago I took the driving school plunge…so I know of what I write.

I can’t overstate the fact that the pursuit of the French Permis de Conduire is an expensive, lengthy but profoundly informative study of the psychology of the French population. Believe me, studying this will enhance one’s relationships with the French people you encounter, do business with or with whom one becomes intimately involved. It will even enable one to distinguish a foreign driver from a French one.

Imagine that!

Case in point:

One sunny afternoon, a fellow student, who is also an American, and I left another gruelling session of La Code de la Route to stop at a corner café. As we approached the curb, a car came screeching towards us in a completely misguided attempt to park in a no parking zone.

Mr. America, hisses, ., “Look at that. After they get their permits, all rules fly out the window. How typically French!

My response was, “What makes you think the driver is French?”

He pointed to the French License plate on the Italian Fiat, and said, “Look… 06 (the code for the Alpes Maritimes)!”

As if on cue, two men emerge from the car, sharing a typically boisterous conversation in Italian!

Typically French, right?

So, this is the advice from yours truly…the Expat Curmudgeon Writer on the Côte d’Azur…to American drivers in France. Stop criticizing…stay alert and either take your bigotry and pack it in your little back packs and go back home… or just get off the road and take the friggin’n bus!


feel free to visit: thenovelladyfingers.wordpress.com


Well-Known French Proverbs

On n’apprend pas aux vieux singes à faire des grimaces.This is literally translated as “You cannot teach old monkeys to make faces.”

(google image)


  • Rien ne sert de courir, il faut partir à point. Translating this word-for-word works out to “There’s no sense in running; you just have to leave on time.
  • (google image)

show up on time

  • On ne change pas une équipe qui gagne. This French phrase is literally translated as “One does not change a winning team.”

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winning team

  • Il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu. The literal translation “There isn’t smoke without fire.

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  • Fire

       Vaut mieux prévenir que guérir. This famous saying in French can be translated as “It is better to prevent than to heal.”

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Autres temps, autres mœurs. This translates to “Other times, other values.”

(google image)


  • Un malheur ne vient jamais seul. The translation of this one is “Misfortune never arrives alone.”
  • (google image)
  • hurricane
  • Vouloir, c’est pouvoir. Translates as “To want is to be able,”  Perhaps another way of saying “where there’s a will there is a way.
  • (google image)
  • where-there-is-a-will-there-is-a-way
  • Il faut réfléchir avant d’agir. Literally translated as “One must reflect before acting,”   possibly the the English equivalent of “Look before you leap.”

(google image)

  • alimony
  • Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait. This translates directly as “If youth only knew;
  • (google image)
  • youth
  • if old age only could.”

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  • youth
  • which is similar to the English proverb “Youth is wasted on the young.”

End of French lesson number 1!

Kids 5a

(photo by Delorys Welch Tyson)

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Feel free to visit: http://www.thenovelladyfingers.wordpress.com

(image by Delorys Welch-Tyson)

Happy New Year