There are many cultural offerings, much religious heritage, that travel from one culture to the other. This is the nature of cultural community, this perpetual cross-fertilization of peoples and ideas. The borders between races, nations and peoples are not etched in stark lines. They are laid in shades and tints.

Yet, there is borrowing, and then there is amnesia. We must find, retain, a certain unapologetic rootedness, even in the rout and Atlantis-like swamping of nations in the geographies of the mind.

The core of this rootedness is the Mirror Test of Identity Relations. What is this test? It is simple: whenever we borrow observances across cultures – be they cultural, religious, economic or social, we must be able to – having dressed and decked ourselves out in the threads of the borrowed norms – still recognise ourselves in the mirror.

In short words, post-change, the person within should be able to look in the mirror and see himself looking back – in new clothes, make-up, and haircut perhaps, but himself, nonetheless. He should not see a stranger with only a fleeting resemblance to the old self.

– Unless that was the object, all along.

There is nothing wrong with that, of course. The right of peoples to retain their identity, their languages, their clothes, is defined by the right of peoples to yeild them voluntarily. But we should be aware of the process – which sometimes does creep up on us. We must sapiently embark upon it, and not wake up on some Sunday morning and find a perfect stranger staring at us from the mirror of our morning ablutions.

Chuma Nwokolo

6 Replies to “The Mirror Test of Identity Relations”

  1. James Eze says:

    Hello Chuma,
    I have followed your postings on Kraziland and I must say that you have impressed me a great deal. I live in Nigeria and work with Fidelity Bank. I have a writerly interest but no book to my name yet; not even a pamphlet. Needless to say, its a bit tough writing down here – no electricity to power laptops, no quality books and of course bo time.

    I just want to say that I would like to know where I can lay my hands on your books here in Lagos.


    James Eze

  2. Chuma says:

    Hang in there James,
    once you find your voice and cause, there’s a certain mental brutality (which you need to line words up and down a page) that is more essential to writing. It’s actually more available by the spades in Eko! But we’ll keep our fingers crossed for the electicity and books…
    I’ll send you a link to a Lagos shop as well.
    Be well, and thanks for stopping by,

  3. Uche Peter Umez says:

    As usual, one as upcoming as me stands so much to gain by reading your cerebral postings, from Ederi to Krazitivity, and back to African writing. It’s inspirational to meet you and glean your ample repository of knowledge. I’m glad we have met, just as I’m glad of meeting the others on Ederi.

    Well done.

  4. Chuma says:

    You’re welcome Uche,
    although the ideas that emerge in e-conversations often come from a strange country.
    It is a little like live music. The drummer does not take all the credit for his percussions: the passion of his dancers takes him to new places.

  5. Eunice Oviawe-Jones says:

    It’s a good thing to embrace change especially when while living in migration. However, it is also important to retain a certain degree of one’s cultural identity; balance is the watchword for me. Move a bit forward but without getting carried away in order that i don’t forget my heritate. Short but powerful reading. Well done.

  6. Chuma says:

    You got that right, Eunice, it’s all about balance.
    Before one can be comfortable in new clothes, one has to be comfortable in the old skin!
    Thanks for stopping by.


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