It took me a while to figure out how I would call my blog. Then “Farafinna”, Africa in Bamanankan (one of the 50 languages spoken in Mali), and “finding my African self” came to my mind.
I need stability. I need to find out what and who I am. I’ve reached a point in my life where it has become unbearable to be something in between. I’m Malian and I’m Italian, but at the same time I’m not really Italian nor Malian. I know…it doesn’t make much sense but that’s how it is.
I look African, therefore I’m not meant to fit in in White Europe, but inside I’m probably more European than African.
I used to be grateful and happy (I still am) of being this mixture because it gives me the chance to understand how Europeans and how Africans feel about certain issues (e.g. immigration). But what’s the use of it if I can’t understand who I really am?
“Where are you from?” seems to be a very banal and simple question, but it’s not that easy to answer it. Up until recently I said Italy, not because I was ashamed of my being of African descent but because that’s the truth. I was born in Italy, that’s where I personally come from. I used to think “I want these people to understand, acknowledge and accept that not all Europeans are White. I am a reality. I exist. I’m Italian and I am Black.” I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of saying any African country so that they could understand why I looked “different” and think “phew, well she’s not really one of us”. But what’s more Italian than being born and having grown up there? Oh yes, being White and since I am not, I will never belong to Italy or Europe.
After 22 years I can finally say “that’s fine”. I’m no longer seeking to be accepted by them if they don’t want to. I have Africa and Mali. The “only”problem is what if Mali and Africa don’t accept me either?
I mean, I feel more African than European but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I belong to Africa or that Africans will accept me. I can only hope that Mali will just be a bigger version of the life I have in my house with my family and trust the many positive accounts I hear from people going to the Motherland.
Right now I’m trying to make up for all the time where I put aside my Africanness, where I wasn’t fully acknowledging my being Malian. I’m trying to re-shape my identity based on what and who I am. Farafin muso (African woman). Maliden (Malian).
“Finding my African self” will be a long, exciting journey which may as well never end but it’s starting now.