African of New York (Osahon)

Were you born in the states?
Yes. I was born in Chicago, Illinois.

Have you ever been back?
Yes, I visited more frequently before I left for boarding school in the UK but I haven't been back since I moved back to the states.

Which country did you visit?
I was supposed to visit Egypt for the first time but I had to move to the UK for boarding school. While I was in the UK, I attended school in England, which gave me the opportunity to visit Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I wished I went to Egypt, to be able to explore the other half of my background as well, but I plan on visiting in the next couple of years as well as going to Nigeria for a lengthier visit. Going to boarding school in the UK exposed me to a lot of Africans with similar backgrounds as I do, being that I’m from two different countries.

How would you compare Africans in the UK to Africans in the states?
Africans in the UK do not seem to be as hostile and warped up in the differences between each country in Africa. They tend to be more embracing of Africans regardless of what country they come from within Africa. In the U.K. you can see a middle aged Nigerian woman who is best friends with a middle aged Ethiopian woman and this isn't seen as different. In the African community in America, each country tends to have a closed gated community. If you're Nigerian, you most likely have a strong and large community of Nigerians around you. Interracial relationships between an African and someone from a different country or culture is much more common in the U.K, whilst living in America, I see how social media just lights up over seeing a White woman marrying a Nigerian man, or a Nigerian woman marrying a Chinese man. Such things are much more common in the U.K.

How has your childhood experience molded your African identity?
Being a Nigerian and Egyptian woman, born in America and raised in England, my life is filled with cultural shocks. Since childhood I always felt too “Nigerian” for my Egyptian friends and too “Egyptian” for my Nigerian friends. Simultaneously, I felt overly "African" for my American friends and overly "American" for my African friends. For some reason I didn't have these feelings when I lived in the U.K. For the majority of my life I just did not feel like I fit in anywhere. Trying to find who I am as a person while exploring my cultures always led to roadblocks and awkward phases for me. I learned to embrace that awkwardness and to an extent-bask in it.

If you were given the opportunity to speak with young African girls, what would you tell them?

I would tell young African girls that self-love; not seeking a husband is the key. Loving yourself and who you really are as a person is number one. Take time to learn why you love yourself when you are young so you are not faced with the harsh reality that you will not be able to truly love anyone else until you love YOU.