Recently, I met a 22 year old Nigerian-American. His last name portrayed his tribe! So naturally, I said ‘kedu?’ meaning ‘How are you?’ He looked blank. Well, the rest of the conversation went like this…
Me: So, where are you from?
Young Man: I am from New York…Long Island to be precise!
Me: You are?
Young Man: Yes, I am.
Me: And your parents?
Young Man: Oh, they are Nigerians…Ibos!
Me: Oh wow!!! Really? How possible is that? I mean…you being a New Yorker and your parents; Igbos?
Young Man: Huh? Ummmm…Well…!
Me: Okay… so where are your parents from? I mean their State of Origin in Nigeria?
Young Man: Ummmm…(scratching his head). I do not remember Ms. Kem
Me: It’s Ms. Nkem (with a smile). Nna, that you were born in New York does not determine your roots…your bloodline does! That is where your roots are anchored!
Anyway, I was not surprised he was ignorant about his roots. Many of us are; Africans and Non-Africans! I had to ask him his full first name since it was ‘sorta’ polished. From his correct name, I reminded him his possible State of Origin. He did not know a single word of his native language. I blame his parents, and of course, him too! Imagine if he marries someone not from his tribe! He will lose the main part of who he is. His children and the next generations will be lost in this circle and cycle of ignorance.
Who do you think you are? When you know who you are, why make efforts to be someone else? There is nothing wrong with embracing a culture that is not yours. The problem is when you choose to forget yours! To not be yourself, is to live in a vacuum! Please ask yourself: Who am I really, if I choose not to know or appreciate who I am? You are somebody, and not a nobody! Live each day knowing and appreciating who you are.