Diversity Is My Culture

I am not in denial of my culture and cultures that have shaped my life; instead, I recognise that they are from different corners of the earth.

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By Gaby Ndongo

I am a product or invention of both African and European cultures, a son of Gaby Ndongo Ntriere. The Bangala people – of the DRC – have provided me with the first language, Lingala, through which I communicate with my fellow Congolese brothers and sisters and others.

French, on the other hand, is a second language and it has effectively influenced the way in which the words are pronounced in every language I speak.

For example, the ‘r’ sounds from pronouncing the word ‘red’ will inevitably illuminate the fact that I am from a French-speaking country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

I am of a diverse nature that has made me become a stoic. My being has feed from the strength of many cultures and my mind has been matured because of a collection of philosophies from the Igbo in Nigeria to the Xhosa in South Africa.

From the Igbo, amongst many other cultures, I have learned that a man needs to be wise in his way of living by means of a simple saying that “since men have learned how to shoot without missing, and the Albatross bird has learned how to fly without resting” (Achebe, 1958).

Besides that, I have been taught much, indeed, also from the Xhosa through thoughtful words such as “a man is not a man until he has his own house” (Mandela, 2013: 120).

These statements have not only instilled in me a sense of pride for African cultures but they have also provided calm as I know that I am a descendant of thoughtful beings.

Although my way of thinking has been greatly shaped by African proverbs of profound meaning, my character as a complex whole is partially attributed to the European methods of existence.

I find conformability when wearing my Chino pants in the midst of people. The joy and confidence derived from the times I am well fashioned are unexplainable: tailored gentle suit leaves me breathless sometimes as I wonder about how it will feel to fit one.

I am an African, while several individuals may say a modern day African. If so, then many other fellows surrounding me including a number of those I see every day as I journey through the streets of Johannesburg are modern day Africans.

But the difference between us is possibly that I am not in denial of my culture and cultures that have shaped my life; instead, I recognise that they are from different corners of the earth. TOJ

Writing by Gaby Ndongo; Editing by Magnificent Mndebele.

Feature image: Gaby Ndongo.

Image courtesy to Magnificent Mndebele.


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