I find it crazy that we all have this innate need to have a home – a place that is ours, where we can strip off the masks that we use to navigate this world and just belong – yet we’re a species that is so consumed with perception, usually someone else’s, and being ‘accepted’, you would think the world would be our home, no? That people would naturally be warm, open and non-judgmental… I wonder, if we treated people the way that we wanted to be treated, would there be this domino-effect of love and goodness because healing stems from the depths of each of our souls, which means we have the tools to create the world we need, right?
Dalkan waa dalkaagi, soo dhowoow – this country is your country, welcome
This is what everyone has been telling me the last 48 hours, that this is where I’m from. Everyone is surprised when I say that this is the first time I’m stepping foot in Somalia, of course there have been times when I’ve been on a flight that happens to fly over the motherland and I always watch the dotted line coming to the Horn of Africa on my screen, then as we make our way over it I just look out the window, into the expanse of night sky or endless day skies, and wonder what it’s like down there. Down there with people that look just like me. Little girls and boys with missing teeth running underneath the scorching sun as aunties and grandmothers go about their daily routines. Old men with henna-dyed beards having conversations as the athan (call to prayer) begins to sound over the mosque megaphones… What is it like down there? – That has been a thought that has crossed my mind on many flights and now I’m here.
Welcome Home… Hmm? I’ve never been told that before. I mean I’ve been told welcome back at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport plenty times (let’s be honest I’m pretty much part-Kenyan at this point) and in Copenhagen, immigration just needs to check that the passport photo matches the person in front of them, they nod or smile and you get the occasional “welcome back” because well, you belong right? I have never really felt like I don’t belong, I can navigate different cultural nuances and social norms, I’m a chameleon of sorts. I’ve definitely made some people believe I was from London because of how well I know their music scene (I stan pretty hard). But at the same time I haven’t felt like I do belong either, it’s like existing somewhere in the middle…being numb. It’s no secret that there is always going to be an internal struggle of identity for my generation – not enough to be of the West and not enough to be from home. We need to understand that it’s okay to hold so many different wondrous identities within. Identity isn’t binary, culture is ever evolving and no two stories will be the same. There is no reason to have to choose.
Home for me, and I’m sure for many people reading this, is with my family. That’s my safe space, the place I feel most comfortable. The flip side to this coin of being home or belonging is acceptance, you don’t have one without the other. Being told “I see you and you are one of us”, is incredibly empowering but more than that you feel safe and supported because you’re being claimed. Yes, I have never needed anyone to claim me or validate my existence but for my homeland to be like she’s our child, that’s poetic and makes the emotional gangster in me tear up a little.
To be welcomed home. To be told that you are accepted. These are acts of affirming your identity on some subconscious level. You start to straighten those hunched shoulders and walk a little taller, because those invisible guards have been disarmed. You begin to believe in yourself a little more ‘cause you finally have the answer to that question:
What’s it like down there?
It’s just like home