Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Afropolitan-ness: Where are YOU from?

Little Miss O recently asked me where she's 'from'... I thought this was an interesting question especially because we consider our girls to be of multiple heritage. 

I didnt want to tell her how to feel on this, as Ive spent more time than I cared to explaining that I consider myself to be 'Afro-British-raised in an African house in England'. Plus, i know she is like a super-sponge at the moment and has the memory of 10 elephants. Whatever I said would likely been met with interrogation (from her) and her needing a dissertation to explain my conclusions. So, in the typical style of a teacher who isn't sure of the answer,  I turned Little Miss' question around:

 'well, Daddy's family are from Ghana, and he was born in Ghana, Mummy's family are from Sierra Leone and I was born in England and you were born and still live in England, so where do you think you're from?'

Little's response: 'Mexico!' Like I've said before 'Little Miss O says the funniest things!'

; ) I probed and Little Miss decided that she thinks she is 'from everywhere''.

 I have to admit, I wasn't quite prepared for this during a standard trip to the pharmacy. but it is a question that I expected her to ask one day- she's between cultures just as I am/ was...it's only natural surely.The funny thing is that our children are not 'from' the same 'place(s)' as either myself or Mr O! For Little and Mini Miss O, I imagine thinking about the 4 languages that are spoken around them could (potentially) make it confusing for them when responding to that all important question 'where am I from?'

That's why I'm so happy to have discovered the term Afropolitan coined by Taiye Selasi. I adore it! If you've not yet read Selasi's article (it's really old now but still just as powerful and relevant today)- please do so! It's fabulous. Taiye is fabulous! I see our girls as baby Afropolitans, though I suppose its really about how they view themselves. Still,  we've deliberately chosen names for the girls to reflect this notion and we will strive for them to experience a wonderful mishmash of history and culture- not just our own. We've learnt lessons along the way but so far I think we're on track with what we can only describe as a quasi-intentional social experiment. Little is equally likely to be found picking summer berries on a farm as she is to be making meat pies with a little help from her God Mum's recipe. She's also just as happy to eat a cheddar cheese sandwich, plantain in both Sierra Leonean style or Ghanaian style (kelewele), noodles with her 'chopsticks'. okra soup and eba with her hands (it tastes better this way!) or spaghetti bolognese with a fork and spoon- she's a true baby Afropolitan and she can 'chew bones' with the best!
What about you?
When people ask you where you're from, what do you say? Does your response depend on who is asking?


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