threads of our fabric

Reflections on navigating between two cultures and understanding the self-awareness process

Me?!?!…Proud to be African?!?!…Abeg!! June 22, 2011

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Pride – Dictionary definition: “A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired”

I always wonder where this deep affinity and sense of connectedness with anything African developed. Quite a puzzle… I cannot pinpoint the date, time, month, season, or event that was the catalyst for my African Pride. 

During my early immigrant years, I tried extremely hard to be not-African. The wardrobe change was the first effort to assimilate and become identified as an American. Matching was a big faux-pas. This was followed by working on rolling my R’s by watching all-American TV shows to absorb the culture, thought processes, and lifestyle. Over the course of high school, parts of me slowly faded into shadows, hidden from my peers not out of shame, but because it was much easier than having to explain me. Transitioning from a society and culture where I did not have to explain who I was or how we as a people do what we do, was very hard. The norms were drastically different. I found myself constantly answering many trivial questions such as “No, we do not live on trees” or “Africa is a continent and not a country” or “Yes, I learned english in Africa”…It was easier to develop a whole new persona and live a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy when interacting with the outside world. Ajong was kept for the home and family.

But once I arrived the university, I found myself living with a mini-UN. Women with varied ethnic and racial heritages – Albanian, Native American, Lebanese, Trinidad, Italian, Cameroonian – all in two-neigboring rooms. That was an amazing college experience and we are all still good friends today, celebrating marriages and births. Maybe it takes encountering others who are different to appreciate and value one’s cultural inheritance. It certainly did for me.

I continuously find myself in the mix of diverse cultures. Perhaps the pull and appeal to connect stems from the mutual understanding and similarities of our immigrant’s experience. Learning to create a home in a new world by integrating African origins with present surroundings. I entered the United States through D.C., as a scared, homesick, quiet little girl and have now cycled back to D.C. as a purposeful, driven, and confident woman. Just thinking about my social connection to many different parts of the world always brings a smile to my heart. Life truly is evolution and change. I feel very international with a strong tie to a global community, which is why I am thrilled to be part of the DC Mayor’s 2nd Annual African Festival…”One City: Many Voices” on July 16th (Takoma Recreation Center, 300 Van Buren Street, NW, Washington, DC)…if you are around…stop by, I would love to connect!

There’s a blogger’s village too for fellow insightful thought-provoking word junkies comme moi! So to close, I love my African heritage. Cameroon gave me values, family, and a foundation upon which to grow as a person. America dared me to explore and soar.

 

Enjoy one of my favorite clips about Africa

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Opening of LeThee’Ma (Fireplace) February 13, 2011

It is with profound joy for me to introduce and welcome you to LeThee’ma or my fireplace. Many of my favorite childhood memories were night-times in the village, sitting around the fireplace for story telling, conversations, and amazing food! It is with this same spirit that I invite you to join fellow African sisters around LeThee’ma,

…Together we can feed minds, spirits, and hearts…

♥ Week 1 Discussion: First Impression Series – Questions♥

 

 

The Kitchen February 12, 2011

Filed under: Reflections — Sharon Asonganyi @ 8:38 pm
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One thing that is central to my culture is cooking. Not just the act of skillfully putting together ingredients and composing a delicacy that utterly tickles the pallet…but what goes on with all those involved. For example, today, Grandma (Big mami or Ma The) woke up and made breakfast for the kids who typically rise with the dawning of the sun. This is a blessing to the 9 to 5’ers of the week who can get some extra hours of rest. Once my aunt and I woke up, the day’s activities really began. Frying of fish, cooking of egusi soup to be accompanied by water fufu. Everyone always has a task which is assigned by the eldest in the kitchen – Ma The.

As the dishes were being tended to with our hands, our hearts and voices shared news from the week, memories from home (Cameroon), and offered solutions to the myriad of personal challenges in our lives.

Cooking is a life-giving force from the physical nourishment it provides to the spiritual bond of generational sisterhood. In the kitchen sorrows and joys are shared, juicy gossip is exchanged, but most importantly values and tradition is transferred. For example, in today’s story – respect and teamwork.

 

Resiliency January 22, 2011

Filed under: Community — Sharon Asonganyi @ 11:19 pm
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Our cultural values and traditions will always permeate our lives, regardless of location. It gives us a sense of community, ethnic pride, purpose, and grounding.