Name: Louisa Turigye Nantale Oluwafunke Olafuyi
Identify as: Ugandan Brit-ish Nigerian
My name is Louisa, and I would describe myself as ‘Ugandan Brit-ish Nigerian’. I’m proud of my Ugandan heritage, although, I lost the ability to speak my mother tongue at an early age. The complex relationship between race in the UK has also made me feel hesitant to be British, hence the '-ish’. Here are four pictures that illustrate pivotal points in my life when exploring and understanding my African identity.
Photo 1: ‘I’m not even from Pakistan’
I remember thinking about my identity from as early as six years old. When white kids taunted me about my race, like when they called me a ‘Paki’, I remember being confused (and sometimes amused) by the inaccuracy of their comments. “I’m not even from Pakistan!” I should shout back. But, it didn’t take long to realise, in Britain, you were either white or ‘other’.
Photo 2: Finding my tribe
I lived and schooled in a very white part of West London, so on my first day of college, in Stanmore, North London, I walked through the gates and remember thinking “WHOA, look at all these black people!” I thought I was in an RnB video LOL. It was my first time to be around such a diversity of blackness, and it was my first time to feel like I had found my tribe. I learnt about the Civil Rights Movements, Malcom X, Marcus Garvey and the Pan-African Movement too. I listened to a lot Wu Tang at that time.
Photo 3: From London to Lagos
I met my husband in the summer of 2013, hes Nigerian and I had never been to any other country in Africa, other than Uganda. The following spring, I booked my first flight to Lagos, and despite being warned by many why I shouldn’t go, I went, and had the most amazing experience. It truly opened my eyes to how much more of Africa I want to see, and the extent to which Africa and Africans are so inaccurately represented.
Photo 4: Controlling the narrative
What we know and think about ourselves influences our choices, ambitions and interpretation of the world around us. These experiences have inspired me to start AFROBLUSH. This fourth picture represents how a somewhat mismatched identity can still inspire other people! I hope that through the ‘MY IDENTITY’ series we can keep on learning, exploring and sharing.
In many ways our identity is an indicator of what community or tribe we should fit into. However, if like me, you don’t neatly fit anywhere, take comfort in that. You have your individual story to tell for a reason.