The African Accent

September 2, 2010

I was in a casting session recently and it seems that it is now official: “African” is an accent. In the same way that an actor can state his skill in British, Indian, Norweigian or Scottish accents on their resume, he or she can also now add “African.” [insert eye roll here.]

I shed a sad and lonely tear when I saw one of my favorite actors Michael K. Williams in an episode of Law & Order acting as a Rwandese refugee using this so-called “African” accent. I love me some Michael, I think he’d probably have done years of research to get his shit right, and I’m sure L&O has budget to hire a dialogue coach. (I mean, couldn’t one just watch a bunch of videos on You Tube?) And if he’s Rwandese, shouldn’t he sound closer to French than Nigerian?

The thing that confuses me is that, even within a particular country, there isn’t one accent. Just as it is in the USA (Brooklyn, Southern, LA) or anywhere else really.

I mean, I suppose its great that shows like L&O are even acknowledging that Africans exist and can speak English (apparently the Ice-T character is Nigerian?!), but we need to get a grip on this before it gets out of hand! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN AFRICAN ACCENT PEOPLE! Perhaps similarities in the rhythm with which Africans speak or express themselves. Someone send out a notice before this shit gets out of control!