Monday 14 July 2014

Meet a #Westy; Now you know what to call me!!

In London with US #Westy,  Irene Kofi, owner of Mitra's Bathand Body Co.*
So dear reader, meet a fully paid up #Westy and adjust your stereotypes. He’s not your regular Brit, though he might sound like one, but he’s not your trad African either, though he might look like one. He loves the UK and would fight for its security, but he won’t in any way put down or reject his #Westy origins to prove his loyalty. In his attitude lies the future of the world and it should hold no terrors for any save those who wish to create all others in their own image.

He loves the land in which he lives
A #Westy is a statement of cultural identity and is simply a person of West African origin who, for reasons particular to each individual, no longer fits the traditional West African mould. #Westys have attitudes and behaviours that give them a different edge, a subtly different persona to that naturally conferred by their cultural origins. Hashtag discipline, now  please! Don’t confuse the human #Westy for the canine #westy which refers to the West highland terrier!

You’re bound to know some human #Westys, and till now when pushed to put a label on them have called them a Black Brit, an African, or an “insert name of West African Country” person. There are less kind monikers too like “Uncle Tom”, “Bounty” (white coconut on the inside – brown chocolate on the outside), and still some I'd not like to write.  Do excuse me taking the credit for inventing the term #Westy, but let me know if you've come across it before so I can drop that claim. 

He won't put down his origins to prove his loyalty
Most people have been raised to live a mono-cultural life with a surface dressing of cultural diversity. They eat foreign foods; buy foreign brands, holiday for a fortnight or so abroad a year, and some make frequent business trips overseas. The difference for the #Westy is that he does not travel as a political, economic or individual person of dominance. Those from (mostly) Western cultures who travel abroad often carry the unconscious attitude that their way is the anointed path of the world. They are less inclined to learn from others and usually want to “teach”.  If they come from a nation with a colonial history they would be less inclined to learn foreign languages. I speak 5 languages 3 of them like a native, yet only 1 is native to me! You can’t do that without it deeply affecting your values and attitudes regarding diversity.

#Westys having left their countries of origin and adapted to new challenges and new environments become citizens of the world. Their perspective goes beyond that of where they live and that of where they have come from. They feel a natural love for their origins because those origins inform the Westy’s sense of self and worth. Communal living, a generalized respect for older folk (regardless of their social station), respect for family connections and the value of the extended family, are all hardwired in their outlook due to the Westy’s cultural heritage. But the #Westy also values his individuality, his own beliefs, and is less likely to be deeply religious, though he understands the value of his and other’s spirituality. Westys though sometimes unwelcomed, and often unfairly discriminated against, display that extraordinary human tendency to love the land in which they live, no matter how that land treats them.

#Westys are citizens of the world
#Westys are likely to be in interracial or inter cultural relationships. The truth is, being physically expatriated, they won’t meet many like themselves, and are far more likely to be in the company of other races, and other cultures. It is highly likely their children will not speak the languages of their parents' origins even when the #Westy is able to speak those languages himself.

Most #Westys naturally understand the need for diversity in corporate social and political life; simply because they are living a life which would not be possible without a fundamental respect for the humanity that connects them to the foreign lands in which they live. The customs, traditions and history they meet are often in conflict with those of the #Westy’s ancestors. Without the knowledge and belief that despite these differences all are simply human beings just of a  different mould, the Westy could not progress. All immigrants understand this. A #Westy is a particular type of Immigrant, a real citizen of the world.

*Mitras Body & Bath is an all natural Body and Bath products company in Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Meet Ms.Typical...

© Wiz Kudowor

There’s nothing like the threat of visiting family to throw you into a frenzy of cleaning and tidying. Old childhood admonitions die hard and you find yourself acting out the much derided but clearly deep held suspicion that cleanliness, or at least tidiness is next to godliness. This despite all protestations that you’re way past such scripty responses. The hob was the beneficiary of this particular frenzy, triggered by the visit from afar of a sister. Where I come from kitchens have to be spotless, a testament to your demographic, nay even your quality as a human being. I must unpack all that sometime, it sounds a tad obsessive. But here is the thing, while testing the brand claims on the pack of hob cleaner, a totally mind numbing activity need I add, random thoughts surfaced as I reviewed the day.

©Wiz Kudowor

I realized I'd been working that day with an archetype ... Ms Typical!! You will know her, and the male version of her.  

Ms Typical clings to the herd and has little personality of her own. Lacking personality she lacks courage also, and has no conviction in her beliefs. Everything she says and does is calculated to fit the social zeitgeist of "normality". Thus she could never really champion change though she is happy to go with the wind of change. She is extremely successful, and for all the wrong reasons. She stays bang in the middle of the herd, safe in the wider strength of the herd but is terrified in herself. She always seems phoney because she's never found traction with herself. Her status and trappings of success are totally at odds with the profound sense of low self-worth she carries, hidden behind her social platitudes. 

I should feel sorry for her really. Stephen Sutton  a 19 year old died a few months ago, having mined the depths of his life for its true meaning and raised a small fortune for charity. Miss Typical will make a small fortune for herself, live long (no doubt with private health care), retire on an index linked pension, and be totally forgettable because she never lived her life or moved anybody. She was rather moved by everybody. 

Ms. Typical is the archetype that would have shopped Anne Frank, then said how awful the Nazis were, left Mandela in jail, but been first in line to clamour for his release when it became fashionable. 

Ms. Typical and Mr. Typical, need to try being “abnormal" for a moment, and find out what it means to be themselves, and thus unique.  Till then she and he will be about as dependable as a leaf in a gale, as predictable as a cornered animal. 

©Wiz Kudowor

Housewives must be amazingly thoughtful as they run through the daily chores that keep their families living in pristine comfort. I’m a part timer and I got all this from just 45 minutes in surgical gloves and a man-pinny, tarting up the hob. Imagine the streams of insight a real, professional “home management executive” could enlighten you with.