Interrogating our shifting and evolving identities
I am Namibian by birthright and citizenship. I was born in Windhoek, and spent my formative years growing up in Ongandjera. I graduated from high school in New York from the United Nations International School (UNIS). All my degrees are from universities in Pennsylvania, USA and I am currently an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University. I state this to be clear that my worldview originates in Namibia, but my life experiences are also that of a world citizen, aware of my origin, and my ever shifting evolving position. Some people read this and automatically dismiss me as not being Afrikan “enough”. Others read it and somehow find me more “palatable” because my indigniety has been influenced, vented, and approved by western knowledge gatekeepers and institutions. Some read or hear this and don’t really care and simply evaluate my ideas based on their own merits.
My everyday is spent with one foot (and perhaps most of my being) on the Afrikan continent in Namibia, the other on the North American in the USA and my arms are stretch out to the world and beyond. As such I am a comparativist, concerned not just with how “things” impact me and the immediate community in which I find myself, but believing that knowing how others do, view, and see things, significantly helps me better understand myself and the world in which I travel.
I am continuously developing and (re)formulating myself and my identity. I take solace and guidance from the likes of Kwame Nkrumah in my empathic believe that “I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.” I am not merely where I am born, where I come from, my race, gender or my educational qualification. All those characteristics and many others form who I am and are a building block of the future me. I believe as Frantz Fanon stated that I am not a prisoner of my history, my origin or my abstract destination. I am but a traveler and “In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself. I am a part of Being to the degree that I go beyond it.” I say all of this not to construct a treatise on identity, my personal philosophy, nor justification (apology). I write this to because I believe in openness, and I want to be upfront about who I am; the me that I know as of the moment I post this.
(I wrote this post today after I read a thought provoking post by Dr. Maha Bali’s on “ Love and Anger in Postcolonial Being.” It prompted me to update my about me page to be a bit clear on my positionality. The title is based on her comment below).