Nna Denbaaya

I’m guessing that most people look at the title of this Series and say, “Huh?”

This is understandable. The title reads “My Family,” written in the language of Bambara. According to Wikipedia, Bambara is spoken by only 15 million people in the world. If you happen to be one of those 15 million who understand Bambara, you, still, might not recognize the title because Bambara is traditionally a spoken language. The title is based on the system I developed for myself to write the language phonetically.

“Nna Denbaaya,” or “My Family,” is the perfect title for introducing those who have been so important to me during my Peace Corps service in Senegal.

The possessive pronoun “nna” is used to show ownership over transient nouns. I will not forget the confusion I felt when I learned that this was the proper possessive pronoun — as opposed to the absolute possessive pronoun — for “family.” I have always considered family to be unwavering, after all.

“One’s family is always changing. When a relative becomes married or a baby is born, people are being added to your family. When a grandparent passes away, people are leaving your family,” my language and culture teacher explained.

My “family,” to me, includes those who have shown me understanding, kindness, love, and support.

I have found it to be true that my Senegalese family here is both unwavering and ever-expanding.

I look forward to introducing more and more of my family as my service continues.

Allegra Codamon
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3 min
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13 cards

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