Lost in America, Akata in Africa



Its pronunciation can sting if coming from relatives both extended and direct, and from prejudice strangers close enough to “observe” then irrationally label. The term is Akata. Akata is a widely known term amongst many Africans who deem blacks from America as lacking respect for elders, having poor manners and behavior, and talking in a senseless way.

When raised in America and like any other region, individuals naturally become a product of their environment; speaking with a distinct accent, different dress and mannerisms, and perhaps may even speak the common language of the place in which they live. As an African living in America those facts of life counts no one out.
Moreover, in America, Africans are under-represented as seen on surveys inquiring race and background, only being able to fill in African-American, and having the closest form of representation only from black American leaders and politicians. Despite the state of the society, the feeling of being lost in America is only until the visit or a temporary stay in Africa.
Undoubtedly life In Africa is different; the people and the lifestyle. What doesn’t change however, is no matter where one is raised the culture and tradition that native parents instill in their children enables them when matured, to have an understanding on what it means to be African and therefore are proud and appreciative of their rich culture. Though when in Africa, that true pride is clouded. Often times we are mocked having the way we speak made fun of and are repeatedly reminded about how different we are, so blinded by our similarities. In America, where people struggle to assimilate just to fit in, the same struggle is had with Africans raised in America when going to Africa.
Home is where our hearts are, but we want our hearts to beat for home.

(Personal Note)
For many years myself and others raised in America have been so lost in America, assimilating with the closest thing we can relate to, to feel included. In Africa, where we should feel most at comfort, we are instead labeled something we aren’t and never desire to be. The realization of being lost in America happens after the trip from Africa because you leave questioning “Where do I fit in?” It was my personal fascination of my sights in Nigeria that allowed me to have such a special love for Nigeria and Africa. It was hard but no one could change my feelings for how much I fell in love with Africa. –An Akata has no place in Africa because no African is an Akata. – Ashley I. Okonkwo



  1. I LOVE the last sentence "An Akata has no place in Africa because no African is an Akata". So very true!!! Great article Ash!!…

  2. I like this article. I actually think it's the same story for most, if not all, of the individuals that have simply just been labeled black in America. They often do not know where to fit in and when going "back home," you are shocked to know that home is not that hospitable, and interestingly this sense of no identity exists more so in America than in any other country in the world. The content of this article is good and now the only question that remains is will it ever change?

  3. Very interesting article. As an American-born, Nigerian, I've often grappled with many of the same issues addressed in this piece. Nice job!

    • This can no doubt be the reality of what many young ones are dealing with today, but hopefully things would eventually change for them. Thank you

  4. "What doesn’t change however, is no matter where one is raised the culture and tradition that native parents instill in their children enables them when matured, to have an understanding on what it means to be African and therefore are proud and appreciative of their rich culture."

    true. raised in naija for about 7 years, and living in america for the duration of i sometimes feel lost when i find myself with fellow nigerians. its like ive been Americanized that i feel lost in a way. But that sentence yu wrote i can relate to. the values that not only my parents installed in me but my family and extended family. its still in me, the spirit of hard working and perseverance. thats one thing that no matter where ive been raised, whether it be detroit, baltimore or new york. thats one thing i take with me…. thats the part that got to me

  5. Nice Nice stuff…. the reality is, people will feel you're not fully african partly cos of jealousy, and partly cos you're truly not "fully" african… by blood yes, but by experiences and living in africa, no.

    Most times when folks I know really want to identify and be accepted as fully african, they go stay in africa for a while… and not just summer holidays, or xmas, but just go… get involved in some community service, or work, or do NYSC (as in the case of Naija), learn the language, even if it's just pidgin. When that happens, most people are generally more accepted in africa. I know all these things I've said are not possible for everyone, but for those that can make it happen, it's definitely worth it. And for those that can't do the travelling and living, they stay involved in the african community and learn as much as possible.

    Side Note: This issues plagues most cultures also that have other citizens living in diaspora

    • I feel you. Really we are by pure blood, we may go for visits but experiences of livelihood differ. And absolutely, those who dont often visit home try to stay involved in thier African community, including myself. Thoughtful feedback. Definetely food for thought

  6. I am so impressed Ash,way to go.very insightful,I also never particularly liked the word akata cos I feel we are segregating,it seems to me it has a negative connotation.

  7. You are so right Ashley. The problem for Africans born in America is that they are termed, "misfits". They neither are completely accepted as Americans and their own in Africa call them "Akata"

    However, I think that acceptance depends on how you carry and portray yourself. One's confidence in whom they are is somewhat infectious. People will regard you and treat you based on the air that you give-off of yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed your article and we need to read more relevant and timely articles like this one.


  8. Like Tina, I like the statement thus "An Akata has no place in Africa because no African is an Akata"

    There are two sides to this equation, 1, there r africans that act like akatas 2, n there r African Americans that display a bettercommon sense than African's. However, we r all the same. The so called akata's act irrational cos the choose to nt that the dnt know any better. some times due to low self esteem.

    I belv in keeping my head up regardless of what society says

  9. Nice article. I wasn't born and raised here in US but I have several friends that can perfectly relate with this article – not accepted here in US and not accepted in Africa. From what I have learned, I just hope Africans (especially Nigerians) can learn to give people a chance and stop the whole Akata generalization. Funny how we call say all sorts of negative stuff about so-called Akatas that are common to us as people too. I have come to learn that when it comes to our views of African Americans, the quote, Ignorance is a bliss, applies to so many of us as Nigerians

  10. What I've concluded is this: I don't have to choose only one culture. I can have both. I can be "Akata" and African, all at the same time. Fine by me.