collectmoments (5)

*I scratch behind my leg*

My name is Moses Manu, and I’ve been called an “African Booty Scratcher” since I was in 2nd grade. I never knew what an African Booty Scratcher meant or where it came from. I always assumed it was an ignorant term confused, uninformed, and/or self-hating black kids and Latino children placed on children of African immigrants such as myself…

*I scratch my butt*

Actually, maybe I just thought kids were mean, and I did not understand why I was the target.

*I scratch my head*

It’s 6:55 am, and I am laying down in bed, biding time before I go to work. A confused 25 year old, trying to delay the truth of his future:

Time is running out, and my potential is being covered by the dust.

I’m too lazy to attack the day, so I attack my past.

“…what does “African Booty Scratcher” mean?” looking it up on my phone.

*I scratch behind my left arm*

“16,700 results,” reports Google. Articles pop up. Very different interpretations of what an “African Booty Scratcher” is, but three stand out interestingly enough.

Ok, well…the first three results alright!

*Please note these items come from the historically prized sources of Urban Dictionary and Wiktionary (what is the purpose of Wiktionary again?)

While we are at it, I am going to shorten the African Booty Scratcher to “A.B.S.” for short. Please follow along.

Ok, let’s begin. The first definition of A.B.S. reads:

A.B.S Interpretation One

“A slave that was used to scratch their masters ass, because they were too freaking lazy to scratch their own asses.” by slave owner hater[1]

That is definitely a freaky and demeaning use of a stolen individual, but hey, it really speaks to the literal use of the word, right? An African “slave that was used to scratch their master’s ass…” sounds straightforward to me.

Let us explore the next interpretation

*I begin to claw the skin off my right rib*

A.B.S Interpretation Two

“…is not someone who scratches his master’s ass but more of an asshole. A snitch. A coward.” Charles Mckenzie[2]

*I scratch underneath my leg*

Wow, that was deep! “A snitch. A coward.”

No one told me shit. So I couldn’t snitch because I didn’t get the dish, you feel me?

*I scratch my chest a bit*

Let’s look at the last one from Wiktionary, to the site’s existence I still don’t get.

A.B.S Interpretation Three

‘Said due to the fact that many impoverished people in Africa are recorded in abject poverty swatting or scratching at flies.”[3]

Yes, I am most familiar with this definition, or the least conversant with the assumption of it.

“Go back to Africa!” Black kids would say.

“Manu looks like doodoo” Dark-skinned Latinos would say.

“Why are you so Black?” Light-skinned Latinos would say.

Maybe it was because I possessed “deep African features” or that my parents were too cheap to buy me name brand clothes, so I was stuck rocking a short sleeve yellow button up and some khaki shorts. If that shit was not ugly, I don’t know what was.

J.Cole said in his song, “unabomber”:

“Remember when we called niggas African booty scratchers? Yeah that was random man, but so is life.”[4]

*I scratch the left corner of my back with my right hand*

I love Cole, but that was my life. My life! And it did not feel random. It felt calculated.

*I roll in my bed*

Well, until a certain extent that is. To be honest, I barely think about that phrase anymore or Bronx (BX) disses. It was not their fault or their parents’ fault, but the byproduct of post-colonialism, post-imperialism, and post-slavery (could not think of another “post” and “ism” to swing together).

*I scratch the bottom of my left butt cheek*

At this very moment, I am just wondering, why am I so itchy all of a sudden.

Especially now!

As a I scratch at my sides, thoughts pop up like tabs that need to be closed.

“Why don’t you love us?”


“I had to forget about you.”


“I am looking for my Fitz[4].”


“You’ve got crusty lips!”


“You are hurting me!”


“Become a pharmacist.”


“Why are Black Americans so violent?”


“Stop crying!”


“Why are you so Black?!”


“…I don’t…I don’t want to be here anymore…I just don’t want to be…here…”


Why am I so damn itchy…with thoughts….




The image in this post is an adaptation of an image by Newtown grafitti via Flickr

About the Author

Portrait - AfrifaEmmanuel Afrifa, lovingly known as Rambo, is a 1st Generation Ghanaian American, whom is both curious and skeptical of the written word and thus writes himself.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

5 Responses to “Tale of An African Booty Scratcher | By Emmanuel “Rambo” Afrifa | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. kenneth Awom 2016/07/09 at 2:35 pm #

    This is awesome!! why are we here (scratch ) lol,

    Pls permission to post it on

  2. kenneth Awom 2016/07/09 at 2:37 pm #

    i am going on google spree for the author lol

  3. Emmanuel Afrifa 2016/07/09 at 8:40 pm #

    Hey Kenneth,

    Appreciate the love! This is the first piece, I put out there. Godwilling more to come! Please feel more then free to repost the story!

    My email is, if you want to reach out to me!


  4. kenneth awom 2016/07/11 at 2:26 pm #

    yeah! this made my day! thanks!

  5. Joyce 2016/07/12 at 1:20 am #

    That phrase ‘why are you so black’ always pisses me off! It’s almost like asking someone why they’re so human. Kmt. Good job, Rambo. Let’s attack the day. We have no other option.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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