threads of our fabric

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

Topic 4 – What if…? April 24, 2011

What if....?

If this were a perfect world, I would somehow be able to teleport between America and Africa at will… Waking up to my regular 9-5 fighting HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and in the evenings, regaling in the day’s end nightlife pleasures on the streets of Cameroon. Perhaps head over to one of the mami’s on the street and finding a spot lit by the flickering glow of hot coal slowly roasting fish. If I had my way, I would pause time just long enough to slowly savor blissful moments and precious minutes with loved ones.

But life is not perfect…is it?… We do not always have what we want when we want it, but that does not stop us from pursuing our desires. Does it?...

Indulge me for a few seconds and if you can relate, I would appreciate your comments and thoughts on this topic. One of my major “ifs” is wondering “What would life had been like for me, if I never came to America?”…”Where would I have continued High School or University studies?”…”What would I be ardently pursuing or doing?”…During my trip in Uganda, I met some young women whose futures seemed very bleaked, poverty was rampant in their communities, rape, high maternal mortality, increasing school drop-out, and forced marriages were a daily reality. Almost as if to have been born a woman was a life sentence of unending hardship. On the other hand, I met some women who had somehow beaten the odds. Bold, tenacious in values, pursuing exciting careers, and somehow managing to implement awesome programs for youth in their communities.

Where do you think you would be if you had not come to America? What opportunities have been afforded you by being here? Has there been an exchange in values or sacrifice of some personal attributes that would have been cherished in your country of origin but would not have helped you in the U.S.?

Personally, the first thing that comes to mind as I run through this list of questions is that in Africa, girls are expected to naturally be reserved and agreeable. I struggled with this quality for a significant portion of my earlier years in America. I had to learn how to be outgoing, because the reality is that in Western society it is important to be seen and heard.

What about you???…If…


One Response to “Topic 4 – What if…?”

  1. Sheritha Says:

    If this were a perfect world, in the short term life may seem wonderful, blissful and heavenly. In the long term, I shudder to imagine how it would be like. How would we derive meaning out of life? What will a normal day be like? Will it consist of visiting friends, watching movies, reading, exercising, eating and sleeping? I believe we derive meaning out of life through service to others. Failure to serve others often culminates in, for lack of a better word, unhappiness!

    My formative years and a greater portion of my adult life was spent in Africa. Although, girls and women were expected to be reserved and agreeable, I defied the norm which came at a cost. In retrospect, I guess i have always been a free spirit! In the past (Africa), I sometimes got away with my utterances and at other times, I didn’t! There were instances when I was agreeable on the surface in order to attain a goala. However, I suffered great emotional distress which often culminated in the form of physical ailments.For me, shutting up or refusing to speak up as a young adult/teenager always came at a price! Once I matured enough to understand my personality type, my culture and my goals in life, I devised an effective way of asserting myself, and attaining my goals while staying true to my nature(free spirit). Although the United States culture affords women some liberties, sadly, I have come to realize that women are part of the minority! Gender inequality is subtle and is often escapes undetected by many people. I shall leave that trail of thought for another day. My formula for dealing with the patriachal culture entails an acceptance of my gender + empowerment+ service=better world

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