I am African.
I have never felt shame in saying that.
However, I have come across some African millennials who were either born, or are currently living in the diaspora, and they do not always feel the same.
I tend to hear stories about struggles of growing up in the West, from being called ‘African booty scratcher’ first of all what the heck does that even mean?!
Growing up wasn’t always easy for some of us because of the negative connotations, and the narrow mindedness from the First World.
Being in England for a few years, even at the age of 18 where you would anticipate that people would be a wee bit more educated I would still get asked about malls – if we had any, and if we did, were there any lions that would come in???
Anyway… I have lived in Africa for most of my life and I am proud of that. I have gotten the opportunity to experience various cultures, languages and meet some really great people. I find it particularly interesting that yes, we are all Africans, however we speak different languages, eat different food and so on. However, even in those differences, there are a whole lot of similarities. Take for example, a local Kenyan delicacy like Ugali could be compared to Fufu in Sierra Leone, and even Banku in Ghana although, Ugali is a much heavier version.
We all make and wear various versions of Africana from Batik in Mali, to Kitenge in Kenya, Okulapa in Sierra Leone even!
Speaking of Africana, when I was younger growing up in East Africa, I could not stand to wear print or Africana material.
It sounds so bad, but when I was between the ages of 10-16 I legit associated Africana with old women. I always preferred to rock my jeans and top wherever I went, whatever the occasion.
I thought Africana was for old people, and rightfully so could not tell the difference between batik, print, okulapa… None of them! And that did not bother me at all.
Things have changed since then, and I don’t know if it’s an age thing, but my peers and I have definitely switched up. I’ve got a tailor who I send different designs and pictures to when I want a new outfit. I’m always on Instagram looking for inspirations for fresh new designs to wear.
I also see creativity with Africana material being used as head wraps – which isn’t new, but what we are seeing now is fashion from our African culture with a modern twist.
Nowadays, everywhere you look, you see African inspired themes. From the Dashiki design making it into mainstream fashion, to African music playing in clubs in Bristol. It’s pretty cool to see Africa being embraced, especially in the West. Not only that, but Africans appreciating Africa as a whole as well. Kenyans jamming to Nigerian music, Ugandans living in and loving Sierra Leone. Even with weddings – Nigerians, Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans…when we get married now, there tends to be two ceremonies, one white, and one traditional, with the traditional one incorporating our customs and culture. I think that that’s pretty darn cool.
Ultimately, we have to be proud of our heritage, and our culture. It’s what makes us who we are.
No matter where I may live, Sierra Leone is my home and that will never change.
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