Being an Afropean

“We don’t want to be all the same, but we do want to understand each other”.

Interestingly, the time I feel less ‘African’ is when I go back to Uganda. It’s such a strange and surreal place to be in-between cultures. I don’t want to be English, and at the same time, I can’t really be Ugandan, not fully. I don’t speak my mother tongue fluently enough, I don’t get the jokes and although I have lots of family, I don’t have any friends in Uganda. This is all expected as I grew up in London, and although I travel to Uganda once or twice a year, I’ve never spent more than a month in the country.

You always find your tribe

As a result, over the years I have created a self-appropriated version of my African-ness, that’s neither British or Ugandan, but rather what it means to be a Ugandan in Britain. From my blog and other things I get up to, I realise I am one of millions of people subscribing to this dual identity, and it’s through Pan-African events, music, food and other cultural offsets that I feel the most at home.

I strongly believe that the energy we put out is what we attract, so it’s not surprising to me that since starting my blog I continue to find my tribe. A tribe that includes people from all walks of life and who subscribe to a Pan-African citizenship; whether they are African or not is irrelevant. In this tribe, our identities go beyond their birth place and ethnicity.

One important thing to know about any tribe is that it has rituals, practices and causes for the greater good of its people. This is probably why two of the places I’ve felt at home and so understood this summer was in on a night out in Paris and a one day festival (Africa Utopia) in London. I met such a cross range of people, but somehow they were all my people, because we shared the same rituals, practices and cared about similar causes.

Finding my tribe in Paris

Much of the success of this night was thanks to its spontaneity. I had a lovely time with Agnes Cazin, Creative Director of Africa Utopia who also happened to be in Paris at the same time I was travelling with Lux (Unilever). So we raised our glasses to great timing and greater things to come. My favourite thing said to me this night was from a lady, fashion designer and cancer survivor called Anzolie; she said to me on the dance floor “we must remember that we are queens, and that we should never forget to wear our crowns” .

Finding my tribe in London at Africa Utopia

Africa Utopia investigates the arts and culture of one of the world’s most dynamic and fast­ changing continents and looks at how it can lead the way in thinking about society, community, technology, fashion, gender, faith and activism. Since attending Africa Utopia in 2012 (throwback picture below), I’m excited to feel more passionate about it every year, and always excited to connect with people who get me.

Africa Utopia 2012 Afroblush Ola Shabowale

THROWBACK: Ola Shabowale and I -Africa Utopia 2012

Finding my tribe at Africa Utopia 2016