what it is to be other and not who we think we are

Growing up as an army ‘brat’ we lived in many places and it wasn’t until I lived here that I had been in any one country for more than 2 maybe 3 years. I have now lived in UAE for more years than I have ever lived anywhere in my entire life. I am currently in my second Emirate and living in the second of the homes I have spent the most of my life in…. UAE since 1995 and how much change and development have we both grown through.
Having just read Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche AMERICANAH and been carried along in a very unexpected way I had to write something to myself and anyone else who might be interested.
I always knew I was white in the various countries I grew up but had never had that experience; she so well describes of finding out I was white! [Often called www as in ‘wicked witch of the west’ and ‘white western woman’] usually tongue in cheek. But as we know many a truth is said in jest. In her case arriving in America and then when Dike visits Nigeria and Lagos for the first time as a young man. The idea of African American and American African was quite remarkable to me but makes immense sense. I have watched Morgan Freeman interviewed on this topic and his response makes sense to me. He is an American and no he does not want is history celebrated in one month he wants it to be celebrated and he is correct. In the same way that Arabs would appreciate having their history and contributions recognised rather than obliterated by the great white
People of USA more than anywhere I have ever experiences are apparently obsessed with ethnicity. More so than my own country which alarms me.
Here in UAE I began to have some limited idea about being marginalised for race, gender an more recently age.

There is a whole different range and variation on the Arabs and whether you are GCC or MENA, from the Levant and indeed many Syrians do not consider theme selves Arabs at all
A saying here is you can take ”the Arab out of the country but you can not take the Arab out of the man”

Reflecting back on Occupational Therapy training and then working in the health service also social services I am now struck by how many people were living this life in the shadows as described by Obinze and how various friends, relatives ahve fared. Young men in particular who came from backgrounds that’Vincent’ would consider soft and privileged. Obinze describes when being deported the unnecessary humiliation and degradation he was subjected to because he wanted a choice for education. So many are now forced to make choices for their lives let alone to experience education and God forbid families, social stability and security.
Here in UAE their are also many and not just from Africa but all nationals of this world living between residency and visitor status. Desperate to stay and live this life of a country that invests in it’s people and expatriates wanting to make their lives here unlike that described by Ifemelu and her first experiences of jobs and ID cards!
And now TRUMPS USA! Boris and MAY’S UK….
Imagine having a choice and USA would be the better choice than your own country – to leave and be forever treated as other is too momentous and indeed monstrous to consider.

This book has been quite a journey for me and remarkable and in some instances revelationery in how connected I feel although I am not from Nigeria and have not traveled [or will ever travel] to USA.

Thank you for the journey and partial arrival

NB. These opinions and thoughts are entirely my own

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