But Where Are You Really From? – On Identity, Humanhood and Hope by Amanda Khozi Mukwashi
SPCK ISBN 978 0 281 08541 6 £6.99 105 Pages
I read this book in the week that the head of the Football Association in the UK was forced to resign after using inappropriate language concerning footballers of other ethnic groups.
“Where are you really from?” is a question that most of us have thought, if not articulated on a number of occasions when we meet people who seem different to us.
In this book by the leader of Christian Aid we see a rich and fresh personal perspective on how our roots and life experiences shape our sense of identity.
What this brief account makes very plain is that answering the question: “Where are you from?” is much more complicated than we might think.
The author speaks of the dynamics of unnatural borders created in Africa by European colonialists and the importance of tribe and place within her culture. She beautifully describes the streams of family, tribe, language, story and faith that have flowed into her life to shape her identity.
In this sense she is more than the sum of her parts. For this reason, she would like to reframe the question from 'where are you?' from to 'who are you?' In this way the answer we receive does not allow us to attach a convenient label to the human being we have encountered, but instead helps us to experience a person.
With current debates about Black Lives Matter and the appropriateness of using terms like BAME, such a book challenges stereotypes and encourage greater sensitivity as we relate to others.
John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex