“To know yourself is to love yourself.” “If you don’t love yourself, then how can you truly love others?” Statements like this offend a lot of people. I can’t understand why as they make perfect sense to me. If you don’t know and understand yourself, can you expect anyone else to know and understand you? How can you know and understand or even empathise with another? If you’ve never experienced joy, how could you understand when another expresses their joy? To me, these things are a necessity when it comes to my culture and how I relate to humanity as a whole.
That’s part of the reason why, along with thousands of others, I went on the march from Brixton to Downing Street last year. It was like a calling from ages past that could not be ignored or denied. I knew it was the ancestors in me calling out. So I followed their instructions and partook in that historical event. It was all about knowing who I am, and where I’ve been and allowing myself to be guided into my future with surety – particularly as an African in the diaspora.
Too often around the net and elsewhere, I see comments (usually from non-Africans) lambasting black folk who wish to practice African pride openly. Why does it concern these people so much when someone like myself starts realising their heritage and start to speak up on it? In all my years of living in London, I’ve been bombarded – from cradle to present day- with the British person’s love of all things British, until recent years, without complaint. At no point have I witnessed the British media and Britain’s other institutions apologising for or stopping their nationalism. So why do even some black acquaintances feel that me and others should “hold down” our African pride? Seriously, what’s that all about?
Being proud of my heritage does not mean that I’m against anybody else’s. That’s foolishness to hate someone because they’re “different”. I’m of the mindset of “You do you, and I’ll do me”, aka LIVE AND LET LIVE. As I’ve said before, as an African, my heritage is RICH. It started civilisation and brought so much benefit to the planet and the peoples wherever it went. When I know that even here in London, my ancestors influences can be seen all around the boroughs, I feel a painful pride. Not everything here came AFTER the kidnapping (slavery). I suggest that any Londoners reading this post check out their local borough’s coat of arms. They may get a surprise with all the lions, leopards, ostrich feathers and other African-originated items they will see. These things I will shout to the rooftops as often as possible – without embarrassment.