My Individuality Is My Identity -Dheelicious Musings
I don’t wear my tribe on my heart. You won’t even know until I tell you or until you hear me speak — as it’s been brought to my notice by friends that I have an accent similar to the humorous diction of a certain Nigerian rapper.
This desire to “detribalize” myself and my identity is one of the reasons I came up with an ambiguous firstname. Ambiguous, not in the sense that the name itself is devoid of meaning or etymological authenticity, but rather because it doesn’t even suggest I might be Nigerian. My surname as the same sense of ambiguity to it too, which sort of makes my identity unique as I’m the only Dhee Sylvester in the world. No kidding, you can run a search online if you think that’s not true.
On a Facebook posts a friend made a while back, one of her friends made a comment about how people who don’t have a native first name or surname are confused, as this doesn’t promote their cultural identity and heritage. He went as far as calling it a “colonial mentality”. I replied by explaining that the primary objective of having an identity isn’t to promote a collective you didn’t choose and might not agree with, but to present an individuality you can relate with and to as it’s a product of your humanity.
I believe who I am as a man is way more important to me than the fact I’m my father’s son. So what should matter about me isn’t whom or where I came from, but instead who and what I represent through my actions, expressions, and convictions. This means I own my humanity, and consequently suggests that I have the right to choose a name that emphasizes the fact I do. A name that speaks of me first, and doesn’t create a conflict between my individuality and my ideologies.
For me there can be everything and nothing to a name, and I understand when someone decides to change his or her name when it creates an impression they don’t agree with. In a country where people change their names influenced by religion and superstition, I don’t know why anyone would find anything wrong with me wanting to have a name that portrays my own statelessness.
About 70% of my Facebook friends are from a particular tribe, and although their culture fascinates me, their culture like the one I was born into, is flawed, limiting, superstitious, and patriarchal. I’ve found adherence to cultural norms as been integral to the growth of stereotype, which often leads to prejudices in the form of nepotism and xenophobia. Which is where my name comes in handy, as it forces you to look beyond where I’m from (because you can’t tell it unless you’re told). This is good, as it makes our relationship one that isn’t establish on the premise of my tribal affiliation, but because you appreciate my personality, and understand my preferences and perspectives too.
Ultimately, the Nigerian society makes sectarian entities and elements like tribe, name, religion, and language more important than the individual humanity of its people, which is why certain ethnic groups in the country never stop complaining about being marginalized in a country where every citizen suffers from marginalization. But I will not be a victim of this, thus, I’ve embraced my individuality, and I wear it with my pride and not guilt because that’s my identity.