Emma Uwejoma

Emma Uwejoma is a current student based in Wales and Brighton. The culmination of her studying has led her photographic practice to be predominantly inspired by African culture, history and heritage. Uwejoma’s current project focuses on a self analysis of her multicultural identity and memory of her unknowing African heritage.

www.emmauwejoma.co.uk

NgwakO

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When I grew up I never felt I belonged. I went to school in Dorset and was the only black kid in school. Was I English like my mother or was I a Nigerian Igbo like my father? I was a mixture of the two, an ‘ngwako’ as they say in Igbo, a hybrid, somebody who didn’t fit in here and didn’t fit in there.

 

I have a sense of nostalgia but also a sense of wariness. Do I really want to give up my independence to become a bride traded for a dowry? Do I need to accept a lower status simply because of I am a woman? Is that the way it has to be?

 

But there are things I want to embrace and become part of; a world where my identity is not formed by the colour of my skin, where time is fluid and life is led according to the natural rhythms of nature and life rather than by the rule of the calculator and the clock. Is that over romantic? I don’t know. I’m still learning what it means to be an Igbo woman from an English home. I hope this project will help me discover who I am, what I am and where I come from.

 

When Nigerian was colonised, most Igbo people followed Christianity and became believers in one supreme being. I was brought up a Catholic but now I have my own beliefs.

In Igbo society, the man asks for the woman’s hand in marriage.

He visits the bride-to-be’s father and they agree on a dowry,

a price for the bride.

Women are regarded as the weaker sex by most of traditional Igbo society. Marriage to a man is what gives a woman status and if you are unmarried then you cannot participate in most social activities.

I hear about this world and I see this world but I don’t yet know this world. I’m not weaker, I’m not second class, but still I want to be part of it. Can I stay myself and still be Igbo?