America has a way of presenting a fragment as a whole.  It evokes an ignorant bliss that the inexhaustible is actually exhaustible.  That everything that can be known is within reach.  I was raised with this ideology because it is easier to minimize the world than to mine the world.  It is a basic fact.

Before my own self-awakening, music was used to blindfold myself from the intricacies of humanity.  It became my own Abu Ghraib where I was the torturer and the captor.  Gospel was good.  “Secular” was bad.  American was normal.  Foreign was “weird”.  Everything fit neatly within boxes because I refused to believe God created a world that reflected His infinite complexity.  Music had to fit into my worldview, and if it did not, I acted like it never existed.

But there’s this nasty little thing that happens when you turn your eye away from the world: you begin to rewrite your own identity and limit yourself.  Only listening to American gospel music helped me run from an identity I hated: I am half-Nigerian.  I boiled down the world’s richest culture into a manipulative, egotistical man that happened to be my father.  I became the most American gospel-loving person who happened to be named Imade.  I was too busy playing the victim of Nigerian culture to actually enjoy it.  I became a caricature of myself.

So how did I leave my musical Abu Ghraib?  It was through cautious exploration that was bolstered by my belief that God knew me more than myself.  I “dabbled a little” in Asa and found that she spoke to a part of me I never knew existed.  I wanted to decode her Yoruba lyrics as a key to exploring my abandoned heritage.  I started listening to TY Bello and in astonishment; I recognized that something so far away could be so familiar.  Having a heart for God is truly universal.

Suddenly, the world became more complicated, but also more beautiful.  Nigerian music became the soundtrack for forgiving my father.  I started to see God’s redemptive purpose in my pain.  Intertwined in my identity struggle was a truth I needed to embrace.  Nigerian music shined a light on the most neglected part of my soul.  It reminded me that I am, in some small way, a Nigerian.

 

This article was written by Imade Nibokun. She is a Nigerian American writer and blogger with a passion for Music. She currently blogs at http://www.imadeintruth.com/

3 comments

  1. Wow, you are in the right major. Great article. Sorry you struggled this long to see that your heritage, and probably mine is true Nigerian. I love Nigerian music. There was a double revolution that too place between James Brown and Feme Kuti. We shall discuss some day.

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