Identity. There is so much bundled up in that word. The search for the answer to the question Who am I? is one that starts early in life, rages through adolescence and, just when you think you have figured it out in adulthood, something throws you off. We are each a work in progress and, therefore, while there should be a thread, how we self-identify also often evolves.
When I was in high school, my English teacher taught us the expression Many a mickle makes a muckle which is said to come from old English or Scottish and means, paraphrased, Many small things add up to one big thing. How we define ourselves is, in reality, the some of our culture, our experiences, where we were raised, our interests, and so on. In this highly connected world, it becomes even harder to find the thread that helps us define our I Am.
Some years back, I attended a panel discussion which included an imam, a rabbi and a priest, among others; the topic of discussion was the South African Identity. With the country’s brutal and divisive history, I truly believe that is at the core of a lot of the challenges we still face – how to find the thread that runs through a nation. Obviously, the whole Rainbow Nation thing was not it and we need to go back to the drawing board. But we should not be afraid to jump into the mire and peel away the surface.
The search for the answer to the question Who am I? is one that starts early in life, rages through adolescence and, just when you think you have figured it out in adulthood, something throws you off.
It is only by going deep and acknowledging the different aspects of ourselves that we can start to make sense of who we are, individually and collectively. And we need to acknowledge and recognise that, while they have a significant impact, it does go beyond race and culture. There was a time when people who defied convention were considered anomalies, but these days everyone seems to defy convention when you get to know them a little bit. Also, I believe, we are a bit more comfortable with sharing aspects of who we are with a broader audience, born out of the advent of social media.
In this issue of Afropolitan, we seek to explore this idea of identity, in all its possible forms, some overt, some a lot more subtle. The hope is that it will spark reflection, both of self and the world around you. It is about getting to the heart of all aspects of our lives as Afropolitans. And, on that note, this is my last issue as editor of Afropolitan. I am grateful to the team at Contact Media as well as to all of you for allowing me this opportunity to share some of the stories I think are important. I wish you all the best in finding You and realising all that you desire.