threads of our fabric

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

Topic 2 – Home Sweet Home February 21, 2011

Ashanti Kente cloth patterns

Image via Wikipedia

Reflection: The family is like the forest, if you are outside it is dense, if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position (Akan).


For most, home is not just a physical structure like a house; it is the dynamics of the intimate membership and connections between related people. Memories are created, values are shared, and lives are forever affected.

Please take a moment to share your voice on the development of your ethnic  and self identities at home. Is it a result of interacting with siblings, parents, or extended family? Think about the rules of the home whether in Africa or once you emigrated.

1. How were your ethnic and self identities developed and nurtured in the home?

2. Did your parents or family use special ways to teach you implicit and explicit roles and expectations at home? 

3. How do you preserve the beautiful, rich customs and traditions of your culture?

Feel free to comment on all of the above questions, select a couple, or pose and respond to yours (as long as it is in the context of culture and home).

Thanks for sharing and let’s get to talking!!!


12 Responses to “Topic 2 – Home Sweet Home”

  1. Ndidiamaka Says:

    So excited to be sharing! My ethnic and cultural identities were preserved in the home through the maintenance of cultural rituals( hair styling, food, and clothing). My mother made sure that my siblings and I all spoke Igbo, knew how to cook the food, and could wear cultural attire properly for Nigerian functions. Now that I am an adult and living on my own, I maintain these same cultural standards in my own home.

    • Sharasong Says:

      Welcome and thank You for sharing! YES especially on the food! I am grateful that I am able to cook a number of the traditional dishes, besides being tasty, they are my “comfort” foods. I was a slow adopter of the clothing…My uncles used to send me outfits and I would put them in the closet or in a suitcase. Now, its exciting for me to design outfits with a tailor/seamstress as is typical in Africa and wear them proudly! It is important to recognize and cherish that which makes us unique. It gives a sense of constancy regardless of wherever we go…Home be home but you di always carry’am small for ya heart =)

  2. Mwanabibi Says:

    Wow this is a tough one for me because for most people their cultural identities are somewhat shaped through interaction with their mothers. I didn’t spend that much time with mine so I guess in my case the adage ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, is really apt. I spent a lot of holidays with my grandparents in the villages and I still remember these times fondly. Thinking back I learnt about my heritage from these trips. My grandmother would sit with us in the evening and tell us stories that had been passed down through generations. These stories always had some sort of lesson attached to them.

    We didn’t have a very traditional home so a lot of things such as cooking I sort of learnt along the way. Its probably why I am more of a ‘citizen of the world’ .

    I keep my culture alive through music, food and language.

    I do think though culture is more something within. Something intangible. You know, the way you react to things or view life in general.

    • sharasong Says:

      The village experience…that was a significant portion of my cultural training. In the cities, it is easy to become lost in daily functions and easy to become a minority due to the influx of diverse populations. The village life is like a mini-cultural bubble or ecosphere…almost everything is symbolic and represents the cultural identiy. From funerals, to farming and social life.

      I have great memories of spending vacations in the village as a child. Eagerly awaiting spending time at my grandparents compound, attending a cultural ceremony, or the exciting escapades into the forest.

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Fijoy Says:

    How do you preserve the beautiful, rich customs and traditions of your culture?

    How do i preserve the customs and traditions of culture? Simple – by always speaking my dialect with other Noni people. There is something extremely moving and powerful about being able to communicate with all the old mamies in the village who don’t speak pidgin – let alone pidgin. Or being able to express an emotion so clearly in one’s language that english would never suffice. There are things we say in our language which just cannot be translated into english, or they lose their meaning, their power. For me, my dialect has always been intrinsic to who I am as a Noni woman and that is where culture starts with me.

    • sharasong Says:

      Very true…the english language is limiting in expressivity compared to out “mother tongue”. The dialect is able to bridge generations and foster a deeper connection. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Edlyn Says:

    My parents definitely instilled certain values in me via etiquette. There were certain things that we could talk about at the dinner table, which also seemed to be the place where we as children learned to present convincing arguments for things we really wanted! At this same table occurred discussions about why it was so important for us as Africans to be proud of who we were and remember what we stand for. In the near by kitchen, my sisters and I learned how to not only cook traditional dishes, but what it meant to truly be the woman of a house. One of my fondest memories is of my mother making dinner and tidying up the house with my new born baby brother wrapped in a blanket on her back! She always had it together even though she was doing one hundred and one things! I just hope I could be half the woman my mother is. 🙂

    • sharasong Says:

      The multi-tasking expert aka African mother…thanks for adding your voice to the discussion thread. I too share vivid memories of my mother carrying my last brother while cooking and delegating other household duties…I really think more African women should be encouraged to venture into business. Organizational skills, multitasking, prioritising, decision-making etc…Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sheritha Brace Says:

    How do you preserve the beautiful, rich customs and traditions of your culture?

    As a child, I was inquisitive(always asking questions), and mischieveous…never a dull or boring moment for me. My knack for asking questions could be unnerving. I received a couple of snaps every now and done or elicited shock from my object of interest. “How can you ask such a question?” was the usual response from some adults. Can you fault a child with a desire to learn? , obviously not. Most adults either found me endearing or just plain irritating! in time, I was socialized to keep most of my thoughts to myself. One constant exhortation from my dad was “Mama, don’t say everything that pops into your head…hmm”. To a degree as a child I tried hard to comply. As an adult, the story is different, various factors are considered before my lips voice out my thoughts!
    As a matured young woman, I try to preserve the positive traditions of my African culture through my clothes, jewellery and character. I put my creativity and love for nature and beauty to work by collaborating with African seamstresses and tailors. I articulate my vision and they manifest my dreams. The final product from this collaboration is worn with the vision of the great African warriors and achievers in mind. The result is simply an alluring, resplendent and vibrant vision, one that sheds knowledge on my African roots. Regarding African cuisine, I shall leave that discussion for another day. Bisses my sisters!

  6. sharasong Says:

    “…alluring, resplendent and vibrant vision…” I loved reading these words!!! It sounds like your life now is a celebration of YOU!! A dynamic young woman with such great depth of spirit due to the flavoring of culture and life experiences. I hope some day you will consider sharing your creative couture vision with the world…perhaps turning it into a profitable life calling. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Zita M Says:

    I came to the US a couple years ago, not until now did i realize how little i knew of cameroon, i just happened to stumble on this website and i am very happy i did. i do not know my dialect and honestly, i didn’t see anything wrong with it until i came to the US, same thing with cooking…….when i was back home i took all this things for granted and now that am here in the US i want to learn all those things especially the cooking because that is what i like> Anyways i just felt i should write something. I believe what i preserved most is my character.

    • sharasong Says:

      Thanks so much Zita for sharing your voice! I too am terrible with my dialect and wish those around me had been more disciplined in reinforcing my practice. The cooking, that’s a different story!!!…I love to eat and so had to learn to cook 🙂 I do agree with you, culture is intrinsic, we carry it with us because it has an imprint on our perception of life. I would love to connect with you to talk some more. Take care!!!

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