I remember when I first moved to Italy as a young girl and it dawned on me that I was black. It dawned on me that my home country from the rich continent of Africa was seen as a hopeless land filled with nothing but poverty. I was hurt and ashamed. My ignorant self desired to not be from there. I attached to Italy as my home. Which it did become, but I shouldn’t have negated my homeland. As I grew up I began to understand how wrong people’s perceptions of Africa were. I began to appreciate my parents for never letting me forget my native tongue, (Twi), I began to love my non-English name, I began to take pride in my people, found no feeling than that of being surrounded by fellow Africans and dancing to our music, no better satisfaction than eating jollof rice or yams with nktombre stew.
I always bother my parents with questions of where they’re from, what tribe do we belong to, the traditions, meanings of different cloths and why we wear them. I’ve always been an avid reader but in Italy they didn’t print (or maybe I couldn’t find) books with black or African authors. When I was 16 and discovered authors like Lesley Lokko and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche who opened the door for me to African literature and authors that have led me discover more about the history of Africa (I always don’t understand why this and history of other “developing countries” are not taught in schools like I’m tired of hearing about French Revolution for the 10th time as a senior in college-but that’s another story) and myself as an African woman.
I’ve been reading this book “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi (I recommend you all to read) that explores the lineage of two half sisters (one who remained in Ghana while the other captured as a slave to America). The description of the different tribes and the importance the characters place on their background challenged me to find more about myself. *checkout my tribe lineage below*
As I move away on my own, away from my first direct contact with my homeland, my parents, I really fear to loose my connection and touch with my African culture. I can’t read twi, only speak it. There aren’t many shows in that language or i can’t just go to any store and buy shitor or the ingredients to make it. The things that connect me to my homeland are harder to come by.
But I’ve made a vow to never loose touch with that, because as I grow up I’ve come to realize how important my culture is to me and how much it affects who am I.
*Note spellings of locations interpreted to the best of my abilities*