“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
I needed to go home. These past few years had been a whirlwind of uncertainty, identity crisis, heart break and much more. I remember sitting at work earlier this year thinking there has to more to my life than the steady routine. Needless to say, I was tired.
As 2018 comes to a close, God saw it fit that I visit my hometown, Harry’s Town. As many of you know I am Nigerian, specifically, I am from Rivers State, from the Kalabari tribe. Although I do not speak my language, I partake in my culture through understanding my lineage, our food and our traditions.
We flew into Port-Harcourt and drove to my hometown. I remember visiting my village a couple of times when I was younger, but this was the first time I actually explored the town. Also, this was the first time I went without my siblings so it was very different. After everyone left, my mum and I stayed behind and it was weird sleeping in a house designed for 10-12 inhabitants. I must give my mum major props for keeping the house in great shape.
The next day, we ate fresh fish and plantain. After our meal, we headed out to explore the town. We rode an okada (motorcycle) into town where we visited relatives. It was also the first time I got to see the family compound where my great-great grandfather resided. I saw photos of those who came before me and I learned so much about my family history.
We explored the streets and I also got to see the river side. It was a calm, beautiful and humbling experience.
There’s something about seeing where you come from that gives you a sense of belonging. For years, I’d struggled the different identities I carried which came as a result of being a Nigerian raised in America. In high school, it caused me to isolate because I could not find my fit. I felt foreign. Coming home made me realize that it’s okay to embrace the different parts of Deborah. I will not be who I am without my experiences. I embrace my roots because it gives me stability as I navigate my life. No matter where I go, I will always be that Kalabari girl who loves to explore and, eat plantain and fish. I’m also the independent, well-spoken girl who believes she can challenge anybody.
Here are some key notes I wanted to share from my experience exploring my roots:
- There is peace in stillness: I spent a lot of time away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. This was a much-needed time for me to reflect on my experiences and assess my life. I also slept a lot which was very necessary considering the workload I had been carrying all year.
- Going Home Does Not Mean You Failed: I know a lot of people who are afraid to return to their roots when life gets complicated. You might get a college degree and be unable to find a job or lose everything you have. In those situations, it’s okay to go home to reset. It might just be the launching pad you need to try again.
- Your Family History Matters: No man is an island. Everybody came from somewhere or someone. Knowing your family history allows you to understand generational patterns. Sometimes, we deal with things we should not be dealing with because of lack of knowledge. When you know where you come from and who your family is, it puts certain things in you life into perspective.
- Stay Rooted: Understanding your roots will give you a unique understanding of yourself. Most of us suffer identity crisis because we do not know where we belong. We walk around the world with emptiness and lack of a plug. For me, I am a child of God before anything. Knowing this gives me peace to take on whatever life throws my way.
I hope you found this blog insightful about my life and where I come from. Thanks for reading beauties! Until next time, you can keep up with me on Instagram @iam_Deborah.