A wise woman once told me, “you’re who you say you are.” That was at a time when I had issues with my identity. Born in Sierra Leone but raised in Liberia until adolescence. Attended high school in Sierra Leone and The Gambia, and post-secondary education in the United States. At school, I was crazy about the arts, and especially literature. Moreover, I could write songs, rap, act, write plays, dance and produce music. That is who I am, I even write poetry.
I did well in both fields but was terribly unhappy with them”
Some cynics second-guessed my decision to study theater. My own family belittled this alternative as an unprolific one. As a result, the younger me decided to study chemistry and phlebotomy as well. I did well in both fields but was terribly unhappy with them. When I seized another chance, it was to study accounting or commerce. I considered both but still, was unsatisfied with the stagnant lifestyle of those fields. I wanted to write and act plays, produce powerful Hip Hop songs, rap, and you guessed it, author some literature. There is so much going on in life, and I want to be one of the guys who documented some of them. Especially in our current politically incorrect era when traditions are a thing of the past.
My identity was such that even as an African because I moved around a lot. Which was partly because of everyone close to me at that time, who wanted me to be what they want, and not naturally who I am. The only time up to that point, where I had felt settled was in the United States. And that was after I left my parents and went on my own. So here I was, a severely distressed 9-5er by day and an excited artist, author, and poet by night. African by heredity, American by nationality. I was the US naturalized Canadian with a massive identity crisis.
And that was after I left my parents and went on my own. So here I was, a seriously distressed 9-5er by day and an excited artist, author…”
Who am I? One of Sierra Leone? I was born there, but I only lived in the country for 5 years. One of Liberia? I grew up there for 11 years and was only 13 years old when the civil war led me to jump into the bushes. Lived in The Gambia and Senegal also; I can claim that as a part of my heritage. They represent my teenage. Maybe I’m an American. I have tons of American family, who carry the passport and because of my Liberian roots, I live, think and speak American. But who am I? A phlebotomist? An Accountant? An artist? An actor? An author? A publisher? This was when the wise lady told me, “you’re who you say you are.”
When I’m surrounded by literature, music, poetry, that’s when I’m being me.”
That gave me a lot of closure. “You’re who you say you are” made me realize that it was not up to my parents, siblings, relatives, friends, co-workers or anyone to tell me who I should be. I declared who I am. When I’m surrounded by literature, music, poetry, that’s when I’m me. Once I made that determination, then came the next step – to be unapologetic for who I am. This released me. It set me free! My mind was disconnected from the false guilt and responsibility to please others instead of myself. It was then that I began to reflect on my influences and how they helped to shape my real journey. That was when I actually focused on my craft and started to build on my legacy. My 10 biggest influences in Literary & publishing are:
To be continued… *