It’s been a long term ambition of mine to live abroad. One that I’ve had since university (when I finally got out of the London bubble and realised there’s a whole world out there). Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I look out of my high-rise city apartment window; I can’t believe I’m actually here after all that dreaming.
Being an expat, I get asked “where are you from” a lot of the time. And I don’t really know what to say to be honest.
I was born and raised in London. South East to be precise.
“Whereabouts in South East, I know London relatively well.”
“Oh, ok! Do you know Thamesmead?”
“Ermmmm… I’m not… too… sure…”
“Greenwich, you know, the O2… the Millennium Dome?”
“Ahhhhh, yes! Greenwich is so beautiful. I love it around there.”
I’m from the Greenwich borough but the Cutty Sark and Maritime Museum are very different from Tavy Bridge, the Boiler House bus stop and flippin’ Gogi’s (sorry Gogi, if you’re reading this. Your shop isn’t flippin’ at all, it’s lovely. Thank you for reducing price of the coconut milk that time).
And then there are those people who ask the same question but with one eyebrow raised.
“Oh, the UK! Okay but where are you really from? You know…”
“Well, my parents are from Ghana in West Africa.”
“Oh, wow. I’ve been to Africa before, beautiful country. Beautiful people.”
This person obviously eats Jamie Oliver’s version of jollof rice at home don’t they?
Can I really claim to be Ghanaian if I’ve only been there a few times, know very little about its history and can hardly speak a word of the language? I’m still trying to work that out myself. I do eat the food, love West African fashion and am heavily into the music though. Surely that counts for something?
When in England, I’m very African but when I’m in Ghana, I’m obroni (white) because I’m from aburokyire (abroad)*. It’s as if I don’t fit in anywhere.
And to add to the hybridity, I’ve spent the last eight years in Nottingham and have recently relocated to Abu Dhabi. I tell people I’m half-Brazilian because I love their culture. I got married last year so my name’s changed. I cut off all my hair so people are unsure whether I’m a boy or a girl (hopefully just from behind). I’m no longer working so cannot be defined by what I do. It’s a time where I’m coming to terms with who I am, what my interests are and what I really want to gain from being out in the UAE, and from life in general.
I may not know where I’m from but I’m definitely going somewhere.
I’m going to be documenting my journey on here. Hopefully I’ve already given you a taste of what I’m about and you’re interested enough to hop in my ride!
*Don’t be fooled, I’ve got the ghanaweb.com tab open right now to translate these words.