I was born in Arusha,Tanzania from the Maasai tribe. I knew how to speak Maasai and Swahili but my family left for the states when I was about five years old. Coming to America meant learning to speak English and my father taught my brother and I exceptionally. Unfortunately as I grew up I lost my mother tongue Maasai but continued to be able to speak Swahili. This created an identity crisis within me and to this day I still battle it. When I am in the states people usually are able to tell that I am different and ask me where I’m from. In the states I am considered African. When I go back home to visit, people there are also always able to tell that I am different and I am asked where I am from. In Tanzania I am consider American.
I remember growing up wondering if neither side accepts me, then where exactly do I fall. It wasn’t till a recent trip to Oxford that I began truly pondering this question. After being asked ( for the millionth time) where exactly I was from because I didn’t have an American accent and having to explain that I was born in Tanzania but raised in America; I spent the rest of the long drive thinking about it.
The funny thing is that though I was raised in America I was raised in the Swahili/Maasai culture so there were many things synonymous with the American culture and experience that I wasn’t able to relate to or ever experienced. And at the same time though I was raised in the Swahili/Maasai culture I did not have the full experience as would someone who lived and grew up there.
So my identity is split and so intricately that I am able to relate with both but never fully.
I am coming to terms with the reality that there is no one place that I truly belong to. The combination of both places have made me who I am. Both places have given me so much and drastically shaped the way that I viewed the world…..for that I am forever grateful.
Pictures from my day at Blenheim Palace & Oxford: