IN SEARCH OF YOUR OWN ROOTS …
Rushing through the life, winning more and more badges and trophies, we often forget who we really are. This shortness of breath doesn’t allow us to remember of what is important and of what has shaped us and our families. We forget about traditions and cultures, which are distinct for individual countries all over the world. We become colorless deprived of its foundation mass.
Social media and other mass media started engrafting ‘the lack of culture’ seed in people. What does this ‘lack of culture’ mean? It’s a belief that mainstream, we are mercilessly stuffed with, is our culture and our roots. Countries, which have huge financial resources at their disposal, run businesses that prey on no sense of tradition, thanks to which they can impose their own preferred lifestyle on milliards of people all over the world. In such a uniform structure being faithful to one’s own roots is quite difficult, although one could expect that such widely promoted tolerance should imply tolerating and respecting other nationalities which bring everything they’re proud of and everything that has been passed down by their ancestors to the international table.
The earlier mentioned lack of certain cultural principles makes the whole nations rock on their foundations, especially the young generations that from the earliest years have been exposed to MTV, Nickelodeon and other programs which totally deviate from gray reality seen through the window. Young people have started idealizing everything that is unattainable for them and they have slowly started changing their lifestyles, behaviors, clothes or the way of celebrating important holidays. I’m truly pleased to introduce you to my today’s interviewee – Yunah Bvumbwe – a blogger and promoter of remembering about one’s own culture, roots and long forgotten traditions.
Passion Piece: Could you tell my readers a few words about yourself?
Yunah: I’m a Zimbabwean, born and raised in the capital city of Harare. I attended School of Journalism at Harare Polytechnic, and that’s when I fell in love with the idea of blogging. It made me realize that I could choose to focus on any topic without being bound by in-house policies of newsrooms which usually dictates what you focus on, and what you should not focus on. My mother’s origin is from Malawi, her parents migrated to Zimbabwe in the early 1960’s when it was still called Rhodesia. So I am familiar with Malawian culture as well as my Zimbabwean culture.
Passion Piece: You’re a smart and beautiful woman of African heritage. You decided to set up a blog with an interesting motto ‘My voice is my purpose, what’s yours?’. What’s the purpose of your website?
Yunah: My website is basically about amplifying the importance of understanding the African culture and tradition. I understand that our history plays an important role in our everyday lives, and it would be disastrous to ignore who we are in the 21st century. I think I simply wanted to be voice that encourages others to speak out. Our African history has been perceived or understood from a single perspective. And I would quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they aren’t true, but they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story”. I therefore believe that for the entire world to understand our African culture, it is us Africans who should write our own history.
Passion Piece: What’s the reason of identity crisis among the current generation? Does it apply only to the young people of African heritage? Or is it a general tendency?
Yunah: We live in a time where young people are inundated with tonnes of information. They are exposed to different cultures on daily basis because of social media or the Internet. There are also certain propagandas that seek to drown African traditions and cultures and call them “barbaric”. So young people end up rejecting their own culture and traditions. So when one adopts a culture they have no knowledge of it’s origins, they end up confused and unaware of who they are as an individual. The older people still understand our traditions, and that’s where I draw my inspiration and knowledge.
Passion Piece: What specific knowledge would you like to convey through your blog? Where do you look for inspiration while writing your posts?
Yunah: That we Africans have always been ahead of time, the notion that we have a dependency syndrome and are people who cannot do anything for ourselves is a fallacy. Our ancestors knew how to cure diseases using herbs without studying medicine, they knew how to tell what time it was without time watches. So today if we become influenced by civilization to such an extent that we forget who we are, we would have let ourselves down.
Passion Piece: What kind of research do you carry out to find valid information on the topics you’re interested in? Do you work with people who advise you in this matter?
Yunah: I use different literature reviews that are already at my disposal. In some cases I follow a lot of people from different African countries on social media, I interact with them, I observe the type of food they eat, how they dress and their way of living in a modern world which is influenced by their culture. Once something of interest pops up, I start researching about it. In most cases some of the things have been written before, but they are mostly one sided. What I do is to look for the loopholes, and write on that bringing a new perspective to the subject.
Passion Piece: What’s the most moving story which was presented in the pages of your website?
Yunah: I would say it was the one I titled “Black Communities in Shambles? I was criticizing the xenophobic tendencies in South Africa where black Africans are sometimes targeted by locals. This article moved a lot of people, and I also got bashed by some who felt I was being biased.
Passion Piece: Have you already noticed tangible results of your work?
Yunah: My blog is still in the foundation phases, but I have noticed that people love the content, and some even advise that I should write more on daily basis which is sometimes hard as I have other responsibilities.
Passion Piece: Do you always remember where your roots are? What do you do to celebrate your identity?
Yunah: In 21st century where a lot of information seeks to influence that some cultures are better than others, it could be difficult to always remember your roots and even think of celebrating it. But because I have a passion for this, I’m always reminding myself that wherever I go, first I’m African-Zimbabwean and thereafter a citizen of the world. I think I celebrate my identity everyday and then once a year we meet with families and cook our Traditional food, slaughter goats and feast. Meat has always been part of our culture. My ancestors were pastoralists.
Passion Piece: What do you love doing in your free time?
Yunah: I read books, mostly African literature, but I also watch movies. My favourites are thriller crime movies and martial arts. I love traveling as well.
Passion Piece: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Yunah: I see myself traveling across African countries and documenting some interesting cultural practices. There is so much that is yet to be uncovered.
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Yunah: “You cannot hate the roots of a tree without hating the tree” So embrace your culture, that’s who you are.
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this truly inspiring conversation and I wish you continued success in the future!
See you around!
Photos by: Yunah Bvumbwe