Half fried banana – that’s a pretty good way to explain the state of some of my friends here in Malaysia… and perhaps myself to a certain extent. 🙂 For those who has never heard the term “banana” being used in the Malaysian Chinese context, it refers to a person who is Chinese but cannot speak nor read the language. A person is a banana since he is yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.
Its pretty interesting since many of my friends and people I know can be termed bananas, my family members included. We all owe it to our post-colonial days in which we inherited the education system from the British before it was changed under the Tun Razak (commision/report thing – sorry lar, my sejarah rusty d) in 1969.
The Chinese living in the urban areas and particularly in the bigger towns were more likely to send their children to English medium schools as compared to chinese vernacular schools. The non-English educated felt probably that these chinese had more of a Western thinking and worldview and probably the term banana arrived from there.
My friend was just relating on how it sucks being banana, especially in a working environment. People just expect Chinese to be able to communicate in the tongue. This can be seriously complicated when this aspect is not communicated properly.
For myself, I once asked my friend if I’m a banana. Well, I’m somewhere in between. I suppose even though I’ve been to a chinese primary school. Some parts of me just does not behave like the other chinese ed ones. After all, I’m different. And that is what makes me me.