This is a question that I have asked myself several times and also on the tip of most British tongue. Instead, the question of your origin comes out – the curiosity about who you are and the gaps are then filled in with sparse one-dimensional knowledge of Africa. Corrupt tin pot dictators and pitiful starving half-naked children. I will not pretend to you that this does not exist.
For in Nigeria when I see the same cartel of wizened old political goats clinging to power Mugabe style I feel like throwing my Christian spirit and love of Christ out of the window and putting them all on a plane and watching it burst into flame in the sky. But that is fiction and real life does not happen that way or does it? Anyway, we’re not here to discuss politics but to celebrate the richness of the continent.
Why did I leave Nigeria? Perhaps I was a secret feminist and hated the patriarchy in the country. More than that was the acceptance that most women young or old could only get as far as they could by riding big bellied sugar papas unless they were from a well-connected family and therefore under protection. Thankfully African women are now occupying centre stage in business and entrepreneurship. The world has become a small village and there is an opportunity for all.
I was glad to leave to a country that allowed you to be who you wanted to be or did it?
I equate it to divorcing your spouse and remarrying in the hope that you will fly into the sunset and live happily ever after. Then you discover that you have walked into another set of issues and might as well get used to it.
Which is worse – a happy culturally rich sunny country beset by corruption where you’re defined by your sex or a rich cold country in which you are defined by race.
I decided to stay put and so did many of us. Instead, we celebrated the riches of our culture in Britain. I know that the general belief in Britain is that if you came to settle in the country then you should assimilate. That is great but has Britain taken time to understand the riches to be explored in the varieties of culture that exists in her country.
Anyway, on a less serious note, I was also happy to explore being celebrated for my thinness (I am not so thin now). African women are generously curvy. Most have big bottoms, wide hips and large bosoms. This was what I grew up with and being as thin as a rake I was desperately unhappy and wanted a bit of that flesh on me. I gorged on food and shakes to at least gain some flesh but it was not to be. I watched in envy as my voluptuous friends were admired and feted by men.
So, I could not wait to join my thin European ‘sisters’. I fitted in immediately and was always pleased when asked if I modelled. My friends that came to settle in the country lamented at their weight and how they had to shed some flesh.
Now, do you see how labels can affect people’s lives? The moral of the story is my dear pear-shaped English woman and full-bodied African sisters – love your body. Stop hankering after impossible ideal set by the fickle money hungry world that is fashion! Better still come to me and I will kit you out in a glamorous African outfit that will celebrate your curves!