*Please note that in this post, I am discussing heritage with regard to country of ‘origin’* “I was born there”, “I was born and raised there”, “my parents are from there” – The common answers to the question of “What’s your heritage?” Our heritage may not be the first answer that we give when asked: “Where are you from?” Someone with Polish parents who lives in Canada may refer to him/herself as being a Canadian. There is no wrong in that because if you live somewhere, you have the right to accept it as your own and you should. However, answers differ from person to person. Someone else with Polish parents could still refer to him/herself as being Polish-Canadian. My conception is that the main difference in answers points at solidarity. Most of the time when I meet people in Canada and I am asked where I am from, I mention the place where some of my family and I live in Canada, that is, Calgary as where I am from. I only mention Nigeria when I get into very deep conversations with people. Why? I try very hard to avoid the stereotypical questions that I usually get when I mention that I was born and raised in Nigeria – an African country. The most common and perhaps the most annoying one I get is: How did you learn English? (Err … basically every Nigerian IN Nigeria speaks it). Back to solidarity … Being born and raised somewhere is likely to not only give you a sense of belonging, it gives you a love for that place that cannot be compromised except in cases like war, bad leadership, betrayal or like in my case (sometimes) – stereotypes, e.t.c. I believe that “I was born there” and “my parents are from there” are similar in a way. If you were born somewhere but then moved away, there is a sense of belongingness but solidarity may not be reflex unless you go out of your way to keep up with the culture of the society which you left. When people say that their parents are from somewhere, the parents were most likely born and raised in that place. Children will probably feel a sense of belongingness to their parents’ native country but to really feel like they share in that heritage, to have some solidarity, both them and their parents have to put in work. The parents will cook their native food, make family friends with people from their native country, and/or speak their language at home. The children in turn, will feel something beyond a cultural history in the family tree but also a major sense of belongingness and solidarity to that heritage. A sense of solidarity and belongingness to a culture is powerful. It makes you feel the right to defend that heritage, criticize it and also celebrate it. When people speak untruly of Nigeria/Nigerians, I hardly fail to defend my country and my people. I criticize bad leadership in the federal government of Nigeria. I also criticize the actions of the Boko Haram militant group in Nigeria. I also celebrate my heritage, like I did on Twitter on May 18th, 2014 after I attended a Nigerian’s Graduation party in Colorado. The party reminded me so much of home – Nigeria. There was loud music, happy people and of course, lots of food – A Typical Nigerian Party. I was shy to dance for long, but the energy from my conversations with others, seeing lots of happy people and seeing people dancing like they just don’t care was beautiful. I came back home and reminisced on the event and I felt like a proud Nigerian. I captured some memories:) Please see below:
Me working my waist on the dance floor. Could you tell that I was shy? Lol I was!
My sister, Ebele in action!:)
More dancing … http://youtu.be/PD9y1ed21ZM
My questions for you – Does the question of ‘heritage’ come up often in your conversations with people? If yes, how do you address that question? – Do you have a cultural heritage (religion, food, country, language, music e.t.c) that you would like to share with other readers of this blog, and myself?