Archive for identity

Reclaiming Our Names Reclaims Our Identify

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, HISTORY, Spotlight with tags , , , on September 22, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Some ask, “What’s in a name?” The answer is, “Our identity.” Names signify one’s origin. Most African names have meaning and were traditionally given with that in mind. African names were a reflection of the child’s personality, heritage, or birth.

Colonial names have replaced traditional African names since the 1700’s. Countries, rivers, natural wonders, and kingdoms of Africa were routinely renamed by European colonizers. Even school children of Africa were renamed with ‘Christian’, English, German, or Spanish sir-names by colony, missionary teachers or baptisms. As a result of the slave trade, people of the African Diaspora were given the names of plantation owner’s as a sign of his ‘ownership’. After 300 years of slavery, the people of the African Diaspora no longer knew their forefathers’ names. Heritage records, family trees, and often even birth records were not kept on enslaved people. Records of heritage were maintained better on horses and dogs.

Since the 1960’s people of African descent have been returning to names of their forefathers. Of course for people of the African Diaspora, these are not actual family names, yet they serve as a link to lost family ties. Independence of African countries won:

  • Independence
  • Renaming of the country
  • Renaming of  her children
  • Renaming of  her landmarks

Many people understand the need to return to our natural names. Others do not. Some think it is a dishonor to our parents who named us. Consider it a gift of honor to our parents.  Honor for all those before us that had no real choice in the lost of family names. Consider it honoring our parents with names that reflect pride in our identity. Consider it a way of saying “thank you” to all those who came before us. This is my gift:

  • A bridge to our forefathers
  • Pride in our identity
  • Independence  of the effects of slavery

My identity is not reflected in Deborah Mazon. My identity is in Mijiza Zeyzey. I am part of the African Diaspora. I am reclaiming my identity. I am giving the gift of independence, pride, and gratitude to my family.

Displacement and Diaspora: What Does It Mean?

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, North America with tags , , , , on August 1, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Displacement and Diaspora are terms meaning movement of mass numbers of people. When mass numbers of people are forced into migration, refuge, or exile from their native homeland for safety and shelter, it is called displacement. When mass numbers of people are forced into leaving their homes, traditions, culture, language, and religion, it is called Diaspora. Both displacement and Diaspora have long term effects on emotions, consciousness, and identity.

Defining One’s Self

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE with tags , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Commentary –

Who are we? Says who? There have been several movements that aimed to define African Americans. From the Pan-African movement that called for pride in our heritage and encouraged us to return to our roots, to the Black Nationalist Movement that said to reverse what was intended as an insult (being called black) into a statement of pride, we have searched for our identity.

In the Jeremiah 2:21, the bible says, “Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into degenerated plant of a strange vine unto me?”

We are of a noble vine; we have a noble seed, a noble God. So why are we so lost? Why have we turned our backs on our own identity? Why are we still searching for what to call ourselves? Why have we taken up new religions? I came across this video and it made me think of this. It is just another example of us not knowing who we are and just another stop on the search for our identity.