Empowered to explore
My name Khadija, I'm London born with parents hailing from St Kitts and Nevis and Sierra Leone. Having grown up more closely with my West Indian family, I'd always identified as being West Indian. It wasn't until I began to reform a relationship with my African family as a teenager that I realised that there was so much more to me!
Photo 1: Labels
As a teenager I asked my mum which box I should tick on a form which asked me to state my ethnicity. I felt like the form was forcing me to choose just one category but how could I choose? Mum replied, “Create your own box and write Child of God”. I guess that’s how I try to view myself first before navigating the world as a black woman of African heritage, because no matter what system is used to categorise me, I will always be a Child of God.
Photo 2: This African print dress
I chose to wear this African print dress for my first-ever photo shoot. This was also one of the first times I had worn my natural hair out in years. It reminds of how I used cry when my mum made me wear African clothing on non-uniform days at school. I guess I didn't see myself as African and didn't want my friends to see me that way either. So, as I prepared for this photoshoot, I felt a touch embarrassed of the past but proud that I now viewed this little African print dress and my tight curls as beautiful.
Photo 3: KSRB
My brick, complete with my initials, now lays in the foundation of my home being built in the Gambia. During my first trip to the Gambia, I felt peace that I had not felt anywhere else. A man told me that Gambians see themselves first as Gambians, before religion and tribal differences and this is why it’s such a peaceful place.
Photo 4: Acceptance
My first trip to the motherland was when I was 21 years old. I lived in Ghana, Accra for a month while completing an internship. Ghana was nothing like I had imagined it would be, I saw wealth that I had never seen in England but also extreme poverty. What really stood out to me was that for the first time in my life, I wasn't a minority and I loved it! I felt empowered to explore and strike up conversations with complete strangers, only just realising how inhibited I had been when travelling within the UK and Europe. Ghana was my first adult experience of feeling accepted as I am.
Be you. Unapologetically.
Explore the world, meet new people and find your peaceful place.