Friday, October 21, 2011

How do you see yourself?

I remember talking to an employee, born in London to Nigerian parents who had never lived in Nigeria but viewed herself as Nigerian. Fair enough, 'Being born in a stable does not make one a horse' said the Duke of Wellington, when referred to as Irish. I started life identifying with British then English. But that was in rural North Yorkshire in the fifties where our nearest thing to a minority were the Roman Catholics who opted out of RE and school assembly prayers. In Nigeria I was Bature, European. Fair enough but I dislike my passport identifying this subject of Her Majesty as a citizen of the EU. My citizenship is in heaven. My primary identity is Christian but my secondary one is English and Yorkshire to boot. The latter is to do with the context in which I was raised though neither my birthplace nor parents were Yorkshire. They merely met and chose to reside there. But after 47 years since I lived there, that is where I identify in culture, character, accent and sporting allegiances.
My most significant change is the move to being primarily English. I think this is cultural and linked to a white mongrel ethnicity. I do not have to specify white English as I do with British. Mass immigration has changed Britishness. Englishness I see as more resilient in self image. Also in the light of devolution and fiscal favours to the Celtic fringes, I want to say I am English. One thing that strikes me about the self identity of Scottish and Welsh folk is their self definition seems to be as much about what they are not as what they are. They are not ENGLISH. That is what they want the world to know. Perhaps it is like me not wanting to be identified as European.

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