I didn’t grow up in love with my home country America. I grew up at odds with the idea of patriotism. The United States is the only home I know and only the reason this place is my home is bittersweet. I love being black and I especially love being African-American, I wouldn’t change that for anything. However, this love comes with the acceptance of a painful history. And because of all this I have a complicated relationship with belonging.
I’ve struggled with belonging, a yearning that a lot of African Americans can understand and relate to. Not only do I not know what country my great great great grandparents are from. I will spend a lifetime mourning the lost opportunity of growing up in their home country. I don’t just mourn results from an ancestry test but I mourn a childhood that’s rooted in direct connection to my ancestry.
I’ve found peace in piecing together what is the rich culture of African-Americans, despite being told otherwise. I’ve even found peace in my constant search of validation in family, culture, and home. I pursued Africana studies as an undergrad for this very reason, to understand my self, history, and find a way to reconcile the beautiful pieces that make up my identity.
But I say allll this to say, attending yet another Nigerian traditional wedding but in London gave me what I didn't know I needed; a piece of your rich culture to add to the arsenal of my identity.
I write this love letter to my new family as a way to express my gratitude and appreciation for the trip.
In London, I was not extended family, I was just family. From the way Aunty Ola teased me about “allowing” me to walk down the aisle first* at my wedding. To having drinks in Brixton our last night while being ratchet and talking about issues in the African diaspora. I got everything I needed and wanted, but more. It was perfection.
The highlight of London was not only digging deep, learning things about myself, as I always do when I travel. But the opportunity to break bread, bond, and connect with every last one of you was incredibly special to me. Know that every hug, kiss, dance, and Yoruba heard, spoke to me in a special kind of way.
With every new experience, I fall deeper in love with my partner and can’t wait to have my own traditional ceremony.