The World Without its Makeup, My Trip To Jamaica

Before going to Jamaica, my aim was to sus­pend any pre­vi­ous beliefs that I had about it. I’d get there and allow all the new stim­u­lus to wash over me. I’d accept it as a com­pletely new exper­i­ence. But to sus­pend beliefs about an unknown coun­try is almost an impossible task. Without choice, we start to have ima­gin­a­tions of cul­tures, land­scapes, ways of life and out­looks. We start to piece togeth­er a dream that is based on pic­tures, stor­ies and oth­er pre­vi­ous exper­i­ences. At some point, the day comes around and we are finally faced with the real­ity of the situ­ation. One of two things can hap­pen. The first pos­sib­il­ity is that we may con­tin­ue to believe our pre­vi­ous dream in spite of the fact that it doesn’t rep­res­ent the real­ity. We may look for things with­in the new place that val­id­ate our pre­vi­ously held ideas of it. We may even come to ignore ele­ments which con­flict with how we want the place to be. The second pos­sib­il­ity is that we may be forced to reana­lyse our dream. We come to admit that we only had a sliv­er of inform­a­tion and we open our minds to the new inform­a­tion.


But that last stage, although the most hon­est and humble, can be very dif­fi­cult. This is espe­cially true if the coun­try in ques­tion is that of our ancest­ors. So much of our iden­tity can become depend­ent on this his­tory. The lives of our ancest­ors may have been hugely influ­en­tial on our cur­rent out­look or place in the world. From the soci­olo­gic­al or anthro­po­lo­gic­al per­spect­ive, the tra­cing of this his­tory becomes very import­ant. But how much can we inter­n­al­ise a false image of a place?

Through­out my life, I had been told about Jamaica by fam­ily mem­bers and friends. Most people talked about the beauty of the coun­try but they also talked about the harsh lives that people had to live. Some people I knew had had trau­mat­ic exper­i­ences there. There­fore I under­stood that the image of Jamaica as a land of happy people by the beach was just naïve roman­ti­cism. I couldn’t believe that life in Jamaica would be all about peace and tak­ing it easy (as so many people still believe). I knew it was a poor coun­try with a high murder rate. But at the same time, I didn’t buy into the nar­rat­ive which was so often por­trayed about poor coun­tries; that they were full of poor sav­ages who needed both money and to be taught how to behave civilly. I under­stood that this pic­ture was a res­ult of people’s ignor­ance and how west­ern media had dehu­man­ised people from all around the world. There­fore without choos­ing, I had developed an idea of Jamaica that fell some­where in the middle of these two extremes.

I knew, for example, that whilst some poor coun­tries could be dan­ger­ous, there could also be a great­er sense of com­munity than in Bri­tain. So although there might be a high murder rate in Jamaica, I felt that most of the killings would be gang-related and that the every­day per­son would be pro­tec­ted through their ties to the com­munity. Des­pite the polit­ic­al and eco­nom­ic prob­lems, Jamaica would be a pan-Afric­an place of coöper­a­tion. Fur­ther­more I felt that this more com­mun­al life­style and emphas­is on coöper­a­tion would lead to a high­er level of ful­fil­ment with­in soci­ety. It would be unlike Lon­don where indi­vidu­al­ism and a lack of com­munity con­trib­uted to people’s feel­ings of social and status anxi­ety, para­noia and empti­ness. Although the cit­izens of Jamaica couldn’t escape the cap­it­al­ist game, they would have a bet­ter way of deal­ing with it. Money would be a means and not an end. But through this the­ory, I had cre­ated a dream. It was my dream and deep hope that money was not, in fact, what made the world go round. I felt that although Jamaica was not rich in wealth, it would be rich in new philo­sophies and out­looks that out­weighed the import­ance of fin­an­cial gain.

I was set­ting out on a jour­ney to peel back the lay­ers of mis­con­cep­tions and find a lost piece of my his­tory. Being part of the Jamaic­an dia­spora in the UK, I felt that we had inev­it­ably lost some of our import­ant cul­tur­al ele­ments through the pro­cess of integ­ra­tion and assim­il­a­tion into Brit­ish soci­ety. We had adap­ted to the European way of life so much so that we had lost some­thing. There­fore, it made sense that if I retraced the steps of my recent ancest­ors, I’d uncov­er what those lost ele­ments were.


Over the course of the jour­ney, I made two import­ant real­isa­tions that shook my pre­vi­ously held views. The first was that Jamaica was not the pan-Afric­an centre of coöper­a­tion that I had ima­gined. It was not the home of a people that had thrown off the shackles of slavery and decol­on­ised their minds. In fact, it was almost noth­ing like the image that Jamaica had por­trayed to the world. Jamaica was as much about ‘one love’ as Amer­ica was about being ‘the land of the free’.

The second real­isa­tion that I made was about my own mind and how depend­ent I had been on a world where the masses of poor people were some­how psy­cho­lo­gic­ally bet­ter off than their coun­ter­parts in rich coun­tries. Find­ing that the oppos­ite seemed to be the case in Jamaica, it threw me into a deep sad­ness.

With regards to my first real­isa­tion, it’s under­stand­able that I ima­gined Jamaica to be more pan-Afric­an and com­mun­al than it was. My thoughts were heav­ily influ­enced by the nar­rat­ives of oth­er col­on­ised nations. I had likened Jamaica’s his­tory to that of cer­tain Afric­an and Asi­an coun­tries. That of a people who had been col­on­ised, oppressed and brain­washed but could now retrace some of their lost past and regain some of their ori­gin­al cul­tures. So in the case of Jamaica, the black Jamaic­ans would be able to search for their lost his­tory in Africa and imple­ment these ele­ments back into soci­ety. This the­ory was influ­enced by dis­cus­sions that I had had with friends who had gone to the coun­tries of their ancest­ors in Kenya, Sri Lanka and Ghana respect­ively. They could tell me about their coun­tries pri­or to European involve­ment and some had even learned the lan­guages of their fam­ily. So whilst colo­ni­al­ism did con­sid­er­able dam­age to Afric­an and Asi­an cul­tures, it was unable to com­pletely wipe out the ele­ments and lan­guages that were pre­vi­ously there. I thought this was the same with Jamaica. But what I didn’t take into con­sid­er­a­tion was how dif­fer­ent our his­tory was.

Jamaica’s his­tory is a story of the exterm­in­a­tion of the indi­gen­ous people and a dis­place­ment and slavery of stolen Afric­ans. Though this sounds like it would give birth to a mer­ging of cul­tures, I found that much of the indi­gen­ous and Afric­an ele­ments had been heav­ily diluted, erased or washed out. In its place, I found that much of the cul­ture was heav­ily influ­enced by the Brit­ish or was a dir­ect res­ult of slavery. It was the same story as the Afric­ans who had been taken as slaves to the United States. It was the same strip­ping of his­tory, lan­guage and cus­toms. The people were still sub­jug­ated to hun­dreds of years of slavery. They also inher­ited the same psy­cho­lo­gic­al bur­dens that came from the years of men­tal and phys­ic­al abuse. The only major dif­fer­ence in Jamaica was that black people made up the major­ity. I was heart­broken. Des­pite Jamaica’s image, Jamaic­an cul­ture was not much closer to its Afric­an roots than Afric­an Amer­ic­an cul­ture. Jamaica had no more ties to Afric­an nations and cus­toms than did Afric­an Amer­ic­ans. I came to real­ise that the image of Jamaica as a com­mun­al, pan-Afric­an place was more related to the dreams of Mar­cus Gar­vey, Rasta­far­i­ans and oth­er afro­centric thinkers than it was to any­thing tan­gible.


I searched for this land of my ancest­ors that would be less European. But what I found was a cul­ture that reflec­ted its dark his­tory of slavery by the same European sys­tem from which I was try­ing to escape. Rather than it being a trip ‘home’, I was to face the real­ity of how long my ancest­ors had been oppressed. In a cruel iron­ic trick by the gods, I was shown more of what Bri­tain had for­cibly imposed upon the world.  The dream of a mighty Jamaica quickly turned to a real­ity, Jamaica-The Former Brit­ish Slave Colony.

Rather than hav­ing an emphas­is on coöper­a­tion, Jamaica turned out to be a coun­try that was heav­ily divided. The coun­try was in a state of jus­ti­fied des­pair and para­noia. People could not move eas­ily between dif­fer­ent com­munit­ies and towns. Many lived with­in their bubble of safety for fear of con­sequences. Whilst I could go any­where I poin­ted to on a map of Bri­tain, a sim­il­ar move on a map of Jamaica would be very unwise. And whilst there were many oth­er coun­tries in states of unrest, I felt like there was anoth­er level of psy­cho­lo­gic­al divi­sion that exis­ted in Jamaica that was a dir­ect res­ult of slavery.

The psy­cho­lo­gic­al divi­sion which I’m refer­ring to has to do with how divided people were even with­in their own com­munit­ies and fam­il­ies. A lot of people seemed to be extremely con­cerned with what people thought of them.  So much so that they were unable to talk about their angst and wor­ries for fear of being seen as weak. Many seemed to bottle up their feel­ings and pre­tend that everything was fine when it wasn’t. This left many present­ing a false image of con­fid­ence, surety, and in some cases, a lack of emo­tion.

This was no new idea to me. Even before I went to Jamaica, I had heard many stor­ies of Jamaic­an par­ents who had been unable to express their true feel­ings to their chil­dren. They would only cri­ti­cise the chil­dren des­pite any deep­er feel­ings of love. From the per­spect­ive of the child, they had felt like they could do noth­ing to make this par­ent or grand­par­ent happy. In this way, the off­spring developed feel­ings of being unwanted and unloved.

Even I was not immune to this cul­tur­al norm. I found out early in my exper­i­ence in Jamaica that I should with­hold some of my true feel­ings. This was very dif­fi­cult for me because I am gen­er­ally quite an open per­son, a char­ac­ter­ist­ic which I love about myself. My approach usu­ally makes people feel com­fort­able enough to talk about them­selves and can cre­ate hon­est, genu­ine dia­logue. It has allowed me to make good, for­ward-think­ing friends from around the world. But in Jamaica, I found the oppos­ite response. Many people felt uncom­fort­able when I’d attempt to dis­cuss my real feel­ings. It did not fit in line with society’s ideals of mas­culin­ity or tough­ness. In a strange twist, it could actu­ally cre­ate more of a social bar­ri­er.

Whilst it’s dif­fi­cult to talk about how cul­tur­al ele­ments get passed down through gen­er­a­tions, I have a the­ory that this psy­cho­lo­gic­al divi­sion is a res­ult of slavery and Colo­ni­al­ism. That it is a res­ult of the com­plex his­tory of the slave world.

Firstly, it’s import­ant to real­ise that the ini­tial slaves who were brought to Jamaica were divided from the begin­ning. They were a mix of dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups from a range of dif­fer­ent Afric­an coun­tries. They spoke dif­fer­ent lan­guages and could be from vastly dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al groups. I state this because it’s import­ant to real­ise how dif­fi­cult it would have been to retain cul­ture when there may have only been small cul­tur­al sim­il­ar­it­ies between groups to begin with. It was not the simplist­ic label of ‘Afric­ans’ who were brought to Jamaica. It was many dif­fer­ent eth­nic and cul­tur­al groups who were thrown into the same cat­egory by an ignor­ant out­side source. It is because of this sim­pli­fic­a­tion and gen­er­al­isa­tion of dif­fer­ent people that many his­tory books can present a prob­lem­at­ic image. Many paint a pic­ture of two cul­tures in the master/slave rela­tion­ship. But the real­ity was much more com­plex.


Once we take into con­sid­er­a­tion how dif­fer­ent the Afric­ans may have been, what united the slaves was not their sim­il­ar his­tory but their sim­il­ar oppres­sion. The ties that linked people togeth­er was not the res­ult of hun­dreds of years of com­mun­al inter­ac­tion and fam­ily rela­tions that could be found in Afric­an vil­lages. It was based on the sim­il­ar exper­i­ence of being owned by the same people. There­fore any unity that could be developed from these grounds of mutu­al suf­fer­ing would always have been put into ques­tion. Most people had a very basic under­stand­ing of what was going on and less of an under­stand­ing of how to deal with it.

Fur­ther­more, the sub­sequent off­spring of the slaves didn’t even have the memor­ies of a dif­fer­ent way of life that could assist them in build­ing anoth­er per­spect­ive. They were born and raised with­in a man­u­fac­tured com­munity that’s sole pur­pose was to increase the fin­ances of the cre­at­or of this com­munity. There­fore, what was imprin­ted on the minds of the slaves was the hier­archy of the sys­tem in which they were liv­ing. And like any oth­er soci­ety or com­munity, it becomes extremely dif­fi­cult for the cit­izens to even ques­tion this power struc­ture without edu­ca­tion.

There­fore, it’s under­stand­able that the author­it­ies were often informed by oth­er slaves about poten­tial upris­ings. Many slaves were more con­cerned with gain­ing the imme­di­ate rewards that came with good beha­viour than dream­ing of the long-term gains that came with revolt. Fur­ther­more, the hier­archy of slave pos­i­tions fur­ther divided people. Many would have taken pride in sub­ser­vi­ent roles if these roles were not con­sidered the worst pos­sible. Here we are reminded of the house and field slave divi­sion. Self-pre­ser­va­tion was key with­in the slave world. The fact that the slaves couldn’t fully trust each oth­er was a key ele­ment in under­stand­ing how a black major­ity was kept sup­pressed by a white minor­ity.

This interest in self-pre­ser­va­tion was most hor­rific­ally illus­trated by the his­tory of the Jamaic­an Maroons. The Maroons were Afric­an slaves who were able to escape the plant­a­tions and cre­ate hybrid cul­tures in the moun­tains. They fought the Brit­ish and were able to retain ele­ments of West Afric­an cul­ture and even some of their lan­guages. So in a lib­er­at­ing way, some black chil­dren were born free in Jamaica with­in hybrid Afric­an cul­tures. But the Maroons were forced to sign a treaty with the Brit­ish. It stated that they were allowed to con­tin­ue liv­ing in their com­munit­ies on the con­di­tion that they caught any escaped slaves. Fur­ther, that they had to assist the Brit­ish to sup­press any slave upris­ings if they occurred. They did occur. Black on black viol­ence ensued.  There­fore, even those self-lib­er­ated black people of Jamaica were used by European powers to hunt slaves who only wanted the same lib­er­a­tion.

It makes sense that this divi­sion of people con­tin­ued after slavery and into the fur­ther years under colo­ni­al­ism. The people were nev­er giv­en the time or resources to shape their own iden­tity. It was not as if the people of the nation were able to stop and say ‘What’s going on? Let’s work togeth­er to fig­ure it out’. My ancest­ors, with no know­ledge of their past, simply flowed with the chan­ging cul­tur­al norms. On the one hand, they inev­it­ably retained parts of slave cul­ture and on the oth­er, they adop­ted more Brit­ish cus­toms and ideals. These ideals enforced the inferi­or­ity of Africaness and black­ness and a superi­or­ity of Bri­tain. Fur­ther­more, capitalism’s effects on the indi­vidu­al and the race for eco­nom­ic gain replaced phys­ic­al slavery. This would have been no pos­it­ive psy­cho­lo­gic­al influ­ence on an already divided people. In this way, we can see that the psy­cho­lo­gic­al divi­sion that formed dur­ing slavery would have per­sisted.

Even if someone were res­ist­ant to the Colo­ni­al powers, they would still be a product of this sys­tem. With no access to cul­tur­al tra­di­tions out­side of those in the imme­di­ate envir­on­ment, one would unknow­ingly be tied to so much of what is around them. For example, if an indi­vidu­al wanted to broaden their mind and gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the out­side world, they would be forced to search for it through Euro­centric edu­ca­tion­al resources. In this way, the Brit­ish world­view would start to grow in the con­scious­ness of the indi­vidu­al. The web of Brit­ish­ness was there­fore com­pletely ines­cap­able. For example, des­pite Mar­cus Garvey’s revolu­tion­ary views on Pan-Afric­an­ism, how much of his every­day cus­toms and tra­di­tions were based on his inter­n­al­isa­tion of Brit­ish cul­ture?


Anoth­er major influ­ence that shaped con­tem­por­ary Jamaica was Amer­ic­an media. After inde­pend­ence brought about a rejec­tion of Bri­tain, the United States became the new rich nation from which to draw influ­ence.  Many Jamaic­ans viewed Amer­ic­an tele­vi­sion shows and movies as if they were real rep­res­ent­a­tions of the lives of the cit­izens. In this way, much of Jamaica was fur­ther instilled with desires for the mater­i­al pleas­ures that came along with this mis­in­ter­pret­a­tion. Rather than being able to forge a new nation­al philo­sophy that encom­passed a love of them­selves, Jamaica’s eyes looked to anoth­er West­ern source. On the social level, this would have added to the high level of status anxi­ety that already exis­ted. To this day, there are many people spend­ing bey­ond their means in order to impress those around them.

It’s import­ant to under­stand that I am not deny­ing the many efforts of indi­vidu­als and groups who have attemp­ted to reshape and bet­ter Jamaica over the years. Jamaica has seen many revolu­tion­ary and pro­gress­ive people grow from its soil. I’m not cri­ti­cising the coun­try, but merely high­light­ing the ines­cap­able prob­lems that stem from its tra­gic his­tory. These prob­lems are psy­cho­lo­gic­ally deep-rooted and they need to be dis­cussed. The aim is to illus­trate how I had made a mis­take in my the­ory that pro­posed that Jamaica would be more about coöper­a­tion than Bri­tain.

The second major real­isa­tion that I made on my jour­ney was about myself. Before I reached Jamaica I had depended on the concept that money had little to do with one’s hap­pi­ness or place in the world. For me, the only factors that mattered were things like hav­ing good friends, a pos­it­ive mind-set, good mor­als, time to reflect and an abil­ity to love (among oth­er things). Fur­ther, I had felt like the stripped down life, away from tech­no­logy and expens­ive cloth­ing would cre­ate a more whole­some life.

In this way, I had believed in an image of the poor people of the world as noble suf­fer­ers. In this view, Jamaican’s (along with many people from oth­er poor nations) were appar­ently the real spir­itu­al vic­tors of the con­tem­por­ary age. They had access to a whole oth­er world of know­ledge and hap­pi­ness that was inac­cess­ible in rich, con­sumer­ist coun­tries. A mil­lion­aire in Bri­tain could live in a man­sion whilst a poor Jamaic­an could live in a zinc shack, but it didn’t mat­ter since the most import­ant thing was the hap­pi­ness of the indi­vidu­al. Hap­pi­ness was not based on wealth, but on the mind-set of the per­son.

But through this pre­vi­ously held world­view, I had seen a world which was more accept­able. In this view, the extreme eco­nom­ic dis­par­it­ies of the world became less import­ant. I had adop­ted a rosy per­spect­ive that assisted me in deal­ing with the effects of slavery and colo­ni­al­ism. For someone whose ancest­ors were dir­ectly affected, it became easi­er to believe in this altern­at­ive nar­rat­ive.

What I hadn’t con­sidered was how a lack of money could have ser­i­ous tan­gible effects on people’s lives. Hav­ing money brought access to good health­care, access to travel and an over­all gen­er­al com­fort. Many of these things were either dif­fi­cult to achieve or denied to the aver­age Jamaic­an. Fur­ther, I couldn’t have pre­vi­ously con­sidered the weight that fin­an­cial angst had on people’s minds and well­being. I couldn’t pre­dict the psy­cho­lo­gic­al effects of poverty. When I was finally forced to face the world without its makeup, it had a huge emo­tion­al impact on me.  I was forced to real­ise that money was not as mean­ing­less as I had hoped…

The world sud­denly seemed dark­er and more twis­ted. I star­ted to real­ise that much of what I took for gran­ted were glob­al priv­ileges. For example, in earli­er times I could travel to a poor coun­try and say ‘the exchange rate is really good’. Now I looked back and ima­gined what the aver­age per­son from this coun­try might think if they came to Eng­land with their cur­rency. In this way, I real­ised that the ease with which I trav­elled was all based on the glob­al eco­nom­ic hier­archy.

Even my belief sys­tem which pro­posed that money didn’t mat­ter was based off of my glob­al priv­ilege. Although my fam­ily was not wealthy, I was able to devel­op these ideas because I nev­er had to face poverty. I might have had to scrape by for a little while in my late teens, but this was noth­ing in com­par­is­on. My life sud­denly seemed much like those middle-class hip­pies who dropped out of uni­ver­sity and preached the unim­port­ance of money in the 60’s. When they were done with this phase, they went home to pur­sue a real career.

One of the first encoun­ters that I had with this eco­nom­ic dis­par­ity came when I vis­ited uptown King­ston. After nearly two months in the poor coun­tryside, I came to Liguanea in uptown and was able to observe the wealthy people of the coun­try. The mor­al­ist inside me cri­ti­cised them for eat­ing in nice res­taur­ants and liv­ing in big houses whilst so much of the coun­try suffered. It angered me that they were able to live the high-life whilst some of my friends and rel­at­ives in Jamaica were fight­ing to get by. But how was the lives of these wealthy people dif­fer­ent from mine in the UK? The only dif­fer­ence that I could observe was their prox­im­ity to poverty. For them, the poverty was always just around the corner. For me in Eng­land, it was across seas and oceans in dis­tant lands.

As I ana­lysed Jamaica and under­stood my place in the world, each learn­ing les­son came as a double-edged sword. I was able to under­stand my glob­al priv­ilege as a Brit­ish cit­izen, but also how colo­ni­al­ism and con­tin­ued neo-colo­ni­al­ism was the reas­on for this priv­ilege. On the one hand, I was per­son­ally thank­ful for my priv­ileges, but then I was furi­ous that this was denied to so much of the world.

By a com­plic­ated series of events, we Jamaic­ans in the UK are now giv­en much of the same priv­ileges as our white Brit­ish coun­ter­part. But this was nev­er the plan. Whilst Bri­tain was gain­ing its wealth through the exploit­a­tion of its col­on­ised nations, they could nev­er have ima­gined that one day we would live amongst them. One day we would be able to attend their schools and uni­ver­sit­ies, inter­marry with their cit­izens and have access to a good level of glob­al wealth.

I came to real­ise that my free­dom and access to inform­a­tion was infin­itely great­er than my ancest­ors in bond­age. That my qual­ity of life was undoubtedly bet­ter. There was no secret philo­soph­ic­al under­stand­ing that was hid­den in Jamaica which out­weighed the eco­nom­ic situ­ation.


Although I have not made peace with these harsh truths (I don’t know if I ever will), I real­ise that I am now in an extremely power­ful pos­i­tion. I received a wealth of inform­a­tion and life les­sons that have made me a more under­stand­ing human being. Now I have the miss­ing piece of inform­a­tion that I had searched for. Maybe it didn’t come as com­fort­ing or lib­er­at­ing, but it was the truth that I had been dig­ging for. It came as one of the most dif­fi­cult exper­i­ences of my life but it rep­res­en­ted my com­mit­ment to the search for know­ledge.

As I left my com­fort­able life in Lon­don to pur­sue this jour­ney, I knew that I could lose it all. For months I didn’t even want to dis­cuss what the trip would be like. I only found myself dread­ing the pos­sib­il­it­ies. Part of me didn’t even want to go. But I felt that it was my cul­tur­al and philo­soph­ic­al oblig­a­tion.

Now hav­ing had the exper­i­ence of liv­ing in Jamaica for 5 months, I have an inside under­stand­ing of what Jamaica means. I lived in one of the poorest par­ishes, side by side with my exten­ded fam­ily. I listened to the stor­ies and exper­i­ences of the people. All the new inform­a­tion came down on me like an ava­lanche. Many of my beliefs were shaken. At times I lost myself with­in the cul­tur­al emer­sion. Some­times I even looked back on my old life in Lon­don as if it were years in the past.

As I did this, I saw this earli­er ver­sion of myself as young and naïve. But how naively happy! I was con­tent in my roman­ti­cised idea of the suf­fer­ing world. I had inter­n­al­ised a unique inter­pret­a­tion of both pro-black and hippy ideo­lo­gies. But that ver­sion of myself had to die in order for a new ver­sion to come to be. And through the strange whirl­wind of time, I am now reflect­ing on this peri­od that I could nev­er have pre­vi­ously con­ceived of. Now a more mature man writes with a new­found per­spect­ive.

Addi­tion­ally, in spite of my ana­lys­is of the social prob­lems, I met good people who I hope will be lifelong friends. These resi­li­ent souls showed me the true power of inner strength. They showed me what it meant to push through the neg­at­iv­ity and to remain a good and pos­it­ive per­son in spite the cir­cum­stances. Even though they lived in such harsh con­di­tions, they had not been crushed under the social pres­sures. I learned much from them and as I come back to Bri­tain I feel like there is no obstacle that can pre­vent me from reach­ing my goals.

Real­ising their oppres­sion and my rel­at­ive free­dom, I under­stand now that I must take advant­age of my pos­i­tion. Unlike these friends and my ancest­ors, I am able to search deep­er into our col­lect­ive his­tory. I can go to West Africa and research the eth­nic groups, cul­tures and lan­guages. Of course, it would almost be impossible to trace where exactly my ances­try is from but at least it would com­plete that circle of dis­place­ment. After hun­dreds of years of my ancestor’s slavery, one of their des­cend­ants was able to make it back to those lost Afric­an shores.

And finally, one of the greatest les­sons that I learned from the exper­i­ence was that I shouldn’t search the world for belong­ing. As a black per­son who was born and raised in the West, I longed for a place where I would no longer be a minor­ity and where I would be embraced with open arms. Instead of exper­i­en­cing the cold of racism, I would feel the warmth of home. Many black West­ern thinkers have dreamed of such a place. But I think the sim­pler and more tan­gible answer is that home is in front of us. Home is in the present and home is in our con­nec­tions to the real­ity around us. Home is the whole world, although it might not always seem so. And home is in the love for ourselves and oth­ers.  So as I fur­ther travel, I do so with an under­stand­ing that the aim is to learn and not to search for some­thing etern­al.


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Nicholas Milverton
A writer with an interest in Philo­sophy, Soci­ology, Anthro­po­logy and all things intro­spect­ive. Someone who is equally at home in under­ground house raves as he is in café’s. He is con­tinu­ally ques­tion­ing the sys­tem and his own lines of reas­on­ing. There­fore, he is always rein­vent­ing him­self.

About Nicholas Milverton

Nicholas Milverton
A writer with an interest in Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology and all things introspective. Someone who is equally at home in underground house raves as he is in cafe's. He is continually questioning the system and his own lines of reasoning. Therefore, he is always reinventing himself.