In Yoruba, the man first greets them, 'Good Afternoon.' After which, they ask him where he is from and he says, 'I’m American.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 10, 2023. It has since been updated.
Speaking in the same language often helps people to connect differently. People might be from separate cultures and upbringings, but the same language just brings them close instantly. In a video posted on TikTok by @xiaomanyc, a man named Xiaoma can be seen checking out clothes at a shop. Xiaoma's real name is Arieh Smith and he is passionate about learning new languages and embracing cultures. In the wholesome video, he can be seen asking the shopkeeper, “Where are these clothes from?” She responds, “Nigeria.” He asks her, “Do you speak Yoruba?” The woman seems surprised, and after saying yes, she starts laughing. Then he says, “Yes I do speak some Yoruba.” Another family member also tells him that they do speak Yoruba. Soon both the owner and the family member begin to film the man. In traditional Yoruba, the man first greets them, “Good Afternoon.” After which, they ask him where he is from and he says, “I’m American.”
The other person who was filming tells him that he has never seen anything like this. “I can’t believe it. You make me so proud right now.” He then shakes hands with both of them. Toward the end of the video, he can be seen trying a traditional dress and trying to bargain. He says, “$30” and the owner jokingly replies, “Get out of here.” He then says, “40” and she responds, “Oh no! no! no!”
The video gained more than 60 million views and is captioned, “White Boy Speaking Nigerian Language.” People on TikTok loved the heartwarming conversation that they had. @Rangel6 commented, “'You make me so proud' I felt that.” @simonneilscott wrote, “Perfect example, then if you make an effort to learn another culture and language, it breaks down barriers and creates connections.” @weshammer pointed out, “They seemed so genuinely surprised and happy! This was so sweet.” @tiffanykelly082118 commented, “This is beautiful, not someone trying to take over a race but embracing it and all its beauty. Love it.” @valerienelson1969 wrote, “Thank you! You truly put a smile on my face. This is what being a human being is about love and respect.” @lelegenevieve pointed out, “Look at how happy taking a little time to learn about someone’s culture makes them love.”
He writes about his love for languages on his website. "Growing up in NYC I only spoke English. But my dad would take me to Chinatown when I was little and man, it was the coolest thing! The lights, smells, tastes — it was just wild. I dreamed about someday being able to speak this amazing, intricate, seemingly exotic language, but I never actually thought it was possible to really get fluent," he recalled. "In my sophomore year of college, I got the opportunity to live in China, and I started actually using the language as opposed to just studying it. I met lots of foreigners who didn’t speak English and we could only speak in Chinese. I started living my life using the language, and it stopped being an exotic object of studying and started just being normal life.
I no longer live in China but I took the language with me, and it’s still a core part of my life, a second soul I couldn’t ever imagine parting with," he added.
The same video was posted on Reddit. It is captioned, “Respect.” It has more than 74k upvotes. u/philo351 commented, “I love how people react to this guy when he does this and how warm-hearted they get toward him. It's wonderful to watch.” u/Only1Schematic wrote, “The way they light up when they realize he’s coming from a genuine place and actually able to speak their language well is just wholesome.” u/Luckyoofclubs pointed out, “Magical things happen in communication when you have the ability to truly meet somebody where they are at. When you make an effort to extend a hand out to someone in good faith, most folk return in kind. It is a lost art in some ways.” u/CrystalQueen3000 expressed, “This guy has an awe-inspiring capacity for learning languages, I’ve seen so many videos of him catching people off guard by speaking to them in their native tongue.” u/BackOutsideGirl commented, “Seeing people go from standoffish to treating you like family when they hear their native language, is why I aspire to be fluent in different languages.”