An African Immigrant Inhabiting American Blackness

Holy shit, I spoke aloud to no one in particular in my coworker’s living room that evening, slowly leaning forward toward the TV screen as everyone else at the party around me continued to half-watch, half-chatter through the beginning of Beyoncé’s set. Incredulity at…

[NB: This piece was originally published in September 2018 in Arts and Africa, a now-defunct literary magazine.]


“Mommy — what’s chitsulo?”

My mother and I were sitting in the playroom together after dinner, on the sofa adjacent to the room’s bay window. We didn’t normally do this, converse after…

[Adapted from a Facebook post from December 24, 2020]

In 2002 my family went to Mzuzu, in the northern region of Malawi, for Christmas. It is about a four hour drive from Lilongwe, the capital city, and eight hours from Blantyre, where my mother still lives today. On the second…

My father passed away on the evening of October 29, 2018, after a nearly two-year course of treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer. We brought him home from southern California, where he was being treated, to Malawi, where we are from, on November 18, 2018; he was buried at his home…

Michelle A. Chikaonda

Philadelphia born, world raised. Find me at

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