Friday, March 30, 2007


Throughout my life I've often felt a little culturally disconnected - I always wanted to be able to identify myself as one thing or another and never really could. My parents grew up in Africa but my mother's roots are Scottish. My father is South African but his parents were originally from Scotland and the Isle of Man. Then they moved to Canada and I grew up in Alberta. I took Scottish dancing when I was young and identified strongly with Scotland through my Grandma and the time I spent there. But I always felt like a bit of a fake. I grew up eating South African food and hearing African stories and visited there many times as a child and then as an adult. Africa is in my blood and I feel a love for South Africa that runs deep and makes no rational sense. There have been times where I think I should move there and live the life that is rightfully mine and fight with the Africans to reclaim a country of power and beauty and justice. But I'd get killed doing it and I have to face the fact that I don't belong. At the end of the day I'm a Canadian. There is nothing wrong with being a Canadian, in fact it's wonderful. But sometimes I feel envious of people who wear their ethnic clothes and eat their food and know, without a doubt, where they come from and who they are.

Last night we went to see the Soweto Gospel Choir, more for the Soweto aspect than for the Gospel. They were everything I expected and more - colourful, vibrant and achingly beautiful. Their voices, singing in Zulu, Xhosa and some English told the story of South Africa and the struggles of the blacks. They were songs and sounds that are familiar to me because I have heard them being sung by many Africans in Africa. I felt like such an outsider watching them dance and sing and I ached to feel a part of it. I watched my Mum and Dad who were sitting next to me and I imagined they must have felt some similar feelings - Africa is their homeland, the place where they grew up and yet, white people are depicted often as Africa's conquerors and tyrants. It makes me sad to think that my parents might feel as isolated and uprooted as I sometimes do.

I did a lot of thinking while listening to the choir - about people and communities and how we work better as a group than as individuals. I thought about Africa and the future of that continent and how many horrible things it has experienced. I thought about white people and how rigid and pursed we often are. I thought about life and what connects me to the people who are living on the same planet at the same time as me and for a fleeting moment that feeling of disconnect disappeared. For one beautiful second I felt a sense of communion with every person on that stage, in that room and on this earth. It was good.

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