Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg has a number of different experiential programmes that are designed to change and expand perspective. I have been fortunate to interact with the space quite a bit and, for the last four years, have spoken at the opening session of their programme for high schools students called Spirit of Youth. The first session is always on Race and Identity.
Recently, I was invited to come share my story at their Nexus programme for session on Identity. Essentially, they had a number of guests and we were each assigned a seat with a couple of chairs around. Participants could sit anywhere and get insight into the stories of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. There was the gay man, the inter-racial couple and bi-racial me, amongst others.
Living in South Africa, where race continues to be the first line of assumption (and judgement), I’ve been forced to figure out where I stand. I am bundled into Coloured because that is the only reference point South Africa has for mixed race people but do not consider myself Coloured.
Because of the challenge of determining my racial identity and the decision to sit on the fence and not define myself by race has prompted me to constantly seek out the perspectives of other bi-racial people, particularly those in the public space. People like Bob Marley, Barack Obama, Halle Berry, Sade, Lenny Kravitz and, closer to home, Nneka (who I had the honour of interviewing).
As I have started to re-establish a stronger link with the land of my father – Ghana – I have also started to consume and interact a great deal more with contemporary music and culture. One of my favourite ‘discoveries has been Wanlov The Kub0lor – Crowned Prince of Pidgen Music; The last Human Hippie-Hopper – and I just came across a video of his song, My Skin, from his Green Card. Born in Romania to a Ghanaian father and Romanian mother, My Skin is Wanlov making sense of himself in this world.
And this is what I wrote a couple of years ago. A poem called Duality.