This entry was submitted by Peculiar Adebayo.
Bin gar keine Russin
Stamm’ aus Litauen,
Echt deutsch. – S. Elliot
This line is in an English poem and one blogger commenting on it refers to the Tower of Babel curse, a sort of rootlessness that plagued the multilingual elite of Europe. It’s an aptly fitting metaphor for the headspace I find myself growing into recently.
As a Nigerian in Nigeria, I criticized freely and loudly, condemned archaic customs and unnecessary brutal-seeming attitudes. Then I left Nigeria. It’s not something I can honestly say I regret, more like I believe I should regret it. Amsterdam is not Lagos, it’s freer, less communal and more humane. Yet I suddenly felt an urge to get tribal marks recently. I’ve found in myself a new sort of romanticisation of Yoruba culture and customs, it borders on fetishization.
Diasporan Nigerians are considered ill-informed about current events in Nigeria and commenting online can get you easily ignored or mocked, and yet I am not fully Dutch, maybe not even halfway. The curse of the Tower of Babel is understanding two different worldviews and not living in either. Not fitting in either or being able to define yourself with one. Worse than not being Dutch or Nigerian is the fact that I don’t want to be either; and yet I lack and seek definition. “Who am I?”
As a Cultural Confluence my opinions are null and void, it feels like I’m too extreme for both extremes, a hilarious notion. I scorn the gerontocracy of Yoruba culture as backwards and still see the Dutch self-sufficiency and bluntness as ill-mannered, defensive and more of an excuse to be rude. Worse, and perhaps the only reason I’m writing this out is the seeming lack of a social bubble to truly fit into. This is nothing like being a Jew married to a Nazi officer, no, it’s a smaller thing but just as insidiously damaging. I’m too fluid, too old to be fully accepting and too young to have built the scaffolding for my personal identity that would shape the way I view and understand things. I wonder how many other people feel this way; do Moroccan children born in a Dutch society struggle to balance two extremes? Is being born with the problem a solution in itself where it becomes normal to juggle these two?
It’s not enough to be okay with being yourself, existing in a social limbo or toggling between two is not a good state of being when the prejudices of either social group don’t match up, it’s a sheer lack of relatability that does one in I think, If I claim the sky is both blue and green both the Blue and the Green parties will consider me a failure.
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