Monday 3 March 2014

Thought Picnic: My Identity

To the point
“What is your birth country?” She asked. That for me was a different way of asking that question and probably the best way of asking it. She sat next to me on a flight from Paris to Manchester, she being on the last leg of a long journey from South Africa.
I have always has to tackle the rather bizarre question of where I am from or rather, where I am originally from because a majority of those who ask that question probably have not concept of the kind of origination I belong to.
My identity is related to my nativity as it is to cultural influences that are as a result of where my parents took me and where I have myself gone.
I come from many places
In essence, I do not have the traditional constructs of roots and definitions people expect me to have. I am proud of the product of the parts that constitute my identity and can conveniently espouse the many strands of who I am with pride and no sense of lacking a heritage.
My birth country is England, my parents are Nigerian; my mother-tongue is English, my mother’s tongue is Yoruba; I have spent more than half my life in Europe, and I identify more strongly as an Englishman than I do British, I find common cause with Nigeria because some of the fondest memories of my childhood were in Nigeria.
A multicultural construct
Besides, having lived outside England and Nigeria by living in the Netherlands for over 12 years, I have found both my Englishness and my Nigerianness accentuated and heightened as I appreciate more the profound influences of both my birth country and the country of my ancestry on my outlook to life and things.
I belong to that growing exclusive group of people called Third Culture Kids, we celebrate rather than repudiate who we are, we are a new kind of world citizen, well-travelled, quite exposed and difficult to fit into conventional identity pigeon-holes.
This group is growing
The more there is global mobility, there more you will see people like me and the sooner you begin to realise that we can choose to belong anywhere we choose to belong by reason of birth, heritage, residence or passport, the easier it would be not to have to ask where we are originally from.
That is because, we are originally from, anywhere and usually not where you think we should be from.
For the record, I am an Englishman of Nigerian parentage, when I have the choice, I am Black English than Black British, I do not have to explain why I feel I have more in common with the English than I do with the Welsh or with the Scots. That is just the way things are.

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