What makes an immigrant?
Christmas dinner is my absolute favourite meal of the year as it consists of me gorging on the following:
- A whole roasted turkey crammed with delicious stuffing
- Roast potatoes
- Jollof rice
- Cranberry sauce
- Fried Rice
- Peppered meat or fish
- Pigs in blankets (sausage wrapped in bacon)
- Apple Pie
- Ice cream
It’s not your typical ‘British’ roll call of foods for Christmas and that’s because it is a fusion of my Nigerian and British culture and thus that’s how I see myself – a fusion of two cultural roots but where is home for me?
Cape Point, South Africa
Born in Hammersmith, London to Nigerian parents, raised in my Geordie homeland of Newcastle, I have known no other home other than Britain. However up until the age of 15, my passport would tell the world I was an immigrant to the only home I knew of. As Margaret Thatcher infamously quoted ‘being born in a stable doesn’t make you a horse’ and so thus being born in Britain did not make me British, as my parents were not British. This statement always played on my mind as a kid as I felt very much British yet if the government wanted to they could ask me to leave. I am now through ‘naturalisation’ recognised as a British citizen – ironic given that I had never felt I was not. Although I imbibe my Nigerian culture and love aspects of it, I can’t call the country home and I doubt they would consider me a true native of theirs with my British way of thinking. So where does that leave me?
Chilling in the motherland of Nigeria at the hotspot, Bogobiri
I refer to Nigeria as my motherland, where my legacy of life began and shaping its course. Let’s say I’m British Nigerian –is that acceptable to me, to the world, can I have both? Knowing my home is Britain and my culture is a fusion of the two, as my values are shaped by my Nigerian upbringing. Sometimes I feel it is easier or palatable for Caucasians to openly claim more than one home but for me, as a black women with my ‘melaninated’ self I have to justify my presence in the UK when asked that question ‘but where are you really from?’ because visibly I am not thought of as British. This will change over time (I hope) as multiculturalism increases and becomes the norm.
Despite not wanting to call another place home, part of looking at migration is where does one leave their heart? I love to travel and explore the world and I can’t help feeling so at home to the Afro-Latino vibes that I experienced when visiting South America. I am also convinced sometime in my future I will live in Barcelona, as it feels like a second home to me whenever I go visiting this amazing city. I think as many people say sometimes we discover bits of home when we explore our world and why not, when we meet people in different countries like ourselves.
Why does one need to choose one cultural status, one nationality? What is being British anyway? So like my Christmas dinner, I am a fusion and personally, fusions always taste so good!
Share your migration story in the comments below.
Love a proud Brit,
I recently took part in a Santa Fun Run to raise money for the Farleigh Hospice. Click here if you want to donate to this brilliant cause!
The 5 to 9 Traveller
Merry Christmas to all my readers. Have a fab time with your family and friends.
19 thoughts on “Cultural Fusions: My Migration Story”
Love it! I too am a dual national Nigerian born in NYC but raised in Nigeria and England afterwards. I’m not culturally American and gravitate more towards Nigerian & Brit culture from my formative years. Currently, I tell all that I’m a multicultural global citizen
I like that term a multicultural global citizen, and this increases with our travels. Thank you for reading.
Loved this post! Through discussions with my family and friends including you we know this split identity.
Thank you so much for reading. Its a very real discussion in the Black British diaspora and we need to be having these conversations more. And actually even with other Caucasians so they can be mindful of how they talk about people’s heritages/cultures etc
Love your honest and your insight is valuable! I lived in the UK (London) for 6 years and I can understand your feelings regarding this. Someone should have told Thatcher that people are not horses pffff. Anyway , keep writing and may you live in Barcelona too at some point 🙂 !
Thank you so much for reading. I sat on this post for over 2 years cos it was a lil too open for someone like myself but its a conversation that needs to be had! And I hope I get to live in Barcelona too 😊
I really enjoyed reading this! It’s interesting how identities can shift during travel. At home, in the US I would be referred to as African American, but when I travel I am recognized as American first. It’s an interesting dynamic. I love your food fusion analogy!
Thank you your kind comments. When I travel my passport privilege with my British passport makes me claim being British first, but sadly its still questioned abroad with some asking was I born there?! I mean how many Caucasians get asked if they are born in the country they state as home?? Its a myriad of discussion for many who are Black British. Thank you for reading and adding your experience to the convo
This story is amazing. I love reading personal essays like this on the web. Makes the internet worth it 🙂
Awww thank you so much for reading. In the noise of the internet its nice to have my story told and shared to get people to understand how people with fused cultures feel.
Wow. This post resonated with me on such a core level. First of all, thank you for sharing your story. Second, I’m an immigrant from Singapore currently living in the US. What’s more, I’ve moved way too many times in the US to know where “home” is. I struggled with this identity crisis a lot when I was younger, but traveling really made me realize that it doesn’t matter. Home is wherever you make it. My Singaporean family treat me like a tourist when I’m there, and Americans will always ask “but where are you reaaally from”. I use to feel so lost whenever someone asks me that. Today, I’m like where am I NOT from… hahaha, thankfully for me, it’s true blessing, regardless of any struggles that may come with migration.
Thank you so much for reading. I was so hesitant releasing this but now I realise its what many of us who have multiple heritages/cultures deal with and it becomes even more magnified when we travel. I like my friend’s definition that ‘home is in people, moments and meaningful connections.’
Interesting to read your story. I like how you compared it to your Christmas meal. I was born and raised in the US to parents who were born and raised the same. I do feel at home in different parts of the world, especially South America.
I was really trying to convey in a simple yet engaging way how I’m a cultural fusion to have others understand who perhaps don’t straddle two cultures. Thank you for reading
Thank you so much for sharing, this is really interesting and I think being proud of all your heritage is so important and valuable to your own identity and sharing it with others too.
Thank you for reading. I believe its so important we learn about others heritage however it is presented. Thank you
Hi Tayo 🙂 🙂 My Dad was Polish but the UK became his adopted country when he married my Mam after WW2. It was very kind to him, despite the marriage not lasting beyond my 5th birthday. He had lost all contact with the family back in Poland and did not reconnect till they found him through the Internet when he was 79- a gap of 64 years! My life changed then. I had never spoken Polish but when I discovered aunties and uncles and 26 cousins, there didn’t seem much choice! They welcomed me with open arms, bless them, but it certainly changed my outlook on life. When Brexit was an issue some of my cousins living in Norfolk were made to feel really bad, as outsiders, despite them working long hours to put their kids through Uni. Dad died 3 years ago and my adopted country is now Portugal. I miss the Polish gang, and of course, my own English youngsters now, due to this darn virus. Funny old world, isn’t it? Wish you every success in it. 🙂 🙂
Wow what a rich cultural life story with so many twists. This is what I love about the world we really are a global village (even if those pesky Brexiteers are in denial) Thank you for sharing your special migration story with me
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