Author Carol Sallymatu Bangura says the inspiration for her recently published children’s book came from year’s of being bullied for being a dark-skinned African child. “Sallymatu’s Soup” is a children’s book that anyone who has been bullied can relate to.
Bangura and her family moved to Philadelphia from Sierra Leone when she was in elementary school. She and her siblings were the only Africans. Bangura remembers that was called ‘African bootyscratcher’, ‘Shaka Zulu’, ‘Tar baby’, and other hurtful names.
But she says that worst thing came when was in the 8th grade.
“I had a brand new ski jacket. Some kids followed me from school, taunting and teasing me as usual,” she said
“One girl said ‘they don’t wear coats in Africa’…They beat me up, took my jacket off of me and threw it over the expressway railing unto the highway.”
When Bangura told her parents about the bullying, they told her to ignore it.
But she couldn’t.
Instead she spent most of her formative years resenting the fact that she was different. Bangura could not embrace her African culture, or language.
“I lost my accent and hid in the African-American community,” she says.
Many in the Sierra Leonean community don’t know Bangura even though she has lived here for decades. She says it wasn’t until she shared a room with a cousin who immigrated from Sierra Leone that she began to embrace her “Africaness”.
With her new book “Sallymatu’s Soup” Bangura hopes she can release the negative recurring words that she heard as a child from within her spirit and prevent other African children from feeling the way she felt.
Bangura has committed her life to advocating for immigrants from Africa and its diaspora. In 2008 she founded the African Center for Education and Sustainability (ACES) a 501 (c) (3) that “provides education and acclimation support opportunities for children and their parents or caregivers to increase academic achievement and preserve our native languages and cultures.”