Saturday, March 23, 2013

Taiye Selasi on discovering her pride in her African roots

There I was, heartily lauding Ghana in all of its peace-loving, hard-working glory, only to spiral out at one comment about my Ghanaian father. I was passionate about Africa, yes, but wasn't proud. I couldn't be. My tie to Africa – my African father – was standing in the way. Ileane was right. What I'd felt in Jamaica was shame about my family saga: the poverty, polygamy, one stereotype of African dysfunction after another. It had always seemed a matter of mere politesse to skip these sordid details when describing to a stranger who I was. But my grief at Percy's (spot-on) guess suggested something else at work: a need to obscure both where and who I came from. Intellectually, I perceived myself as a product and champion of modern west Africa. Emotionally, I perceived myself as a west African polygamist's daughter. What I needed was some other way to know myself as African, apart from as heir to my parents' hurts.
For this, I had to go home.

1 comment:

  1. Born, bred and surviving in Nigeria, I can never understand how it feels to be born and to have existed 'all over places'. Typical Nigerian thinking will make me easily describe her as a lucky girl, since she may never know the downtown stories of girls in kumasi or Isale eko, yet the identity crisis,when one tries to fix into her story is a painful process, especially for a writer who is gradually hitting the road to literary fame.