1. How would you describe your national identity?
I’m a British national but when people ask me where I’m from they rarely want to know whether I’m from London! So I would also say I’m Zambian despite no longer having a Zambian passport.
2. What is your definition of heritage?
The legacy and history of your parent’s and ancestors.
3. Could you describe your parent’s reasons for immigrating to Britain and give a brief account of their experience?
They were trained pilots in the military and were stationed in a small village in Greece before they came to England. They moved because English was their second language and they learnt British history and read various English novels at school so they were more familiar with England than Greece, also the people in Greece were really racist. My mum felt quite lonely, especially when she found out she was pregnant and my mum’s sister and her family had moved to England a couple years before. So they moved in with them until my mum had me and my twin sister. I think it was easier coming to London because it was slightly less alien but it was difficult having to switch jobs, adjust culturally and have two babies all at the same time!
4. Do you feel that you have a dual nationality, and if so how does that define you as an individual?
I do. I had a Zambian passport before I had a British one and then I had both! I just think of myself as a British Zambian which sounds like a contradiction but it works for me.
5. Do you feel you have a connection to Zambia, or only to Great Britain?
I have a connection to both despite only going to Zambia twice. Zambia is my family, it’s the flavour of the food I eat at home, it’s the way I move my body. Britain is also my family, friends and my boyfriend, being in London makes me unbelievably so happy! I itch when I’m away from the stink and smog. I happily engage in both cultures although I didn’t always. At school they only taught us about slavery and only talked about Africans like they’re all poor, savaged and diseased. I was embarrassed, my name was so African and my skin was so brown I couldn’t escape it but I grew up very quickly and realised that it wasn’t true at all and I embraced being Zambian.
6. For you, does Zambia belong to the limited African stereotype of ‘‘Third World Country’’? What is your reaction to this limited stereotype of Africa?
Yes it does, people always talk about Zambia being a ‘developing country’ so close to the Western model of modernity but not quite. They never realise Zambia didn’t need colonialism in the first place. Zambia and other ‘Third World’ countries can never be like England or France or the US and shouldn’t be, it’s not working.
7. How does your experience as a second generation British citizen compare to that of your parents?
My parents will always be ‘immigrants’ whereas I was born here and I have that. But it still feels like a slap in the face when people talk about negatively about immigrants. I empathise strongly with the concerns of immigrants because I although I don’t know first-hand how hard it is to migrate to another country (especially one so hostile) I know it was hard for my parents.
8. Would you describe Britain as multicultural?
Not Britain as a whole, but some British cities, like London. I go to some places in Britain where I don’t think they’ve ever spoken to a black girl before.
9. What opportunities does Britain offer for you as a young woman that Zambia does not? (Vice-Versa)
I think I’d actually know how to cook properly if I was in Zambia! But Zambia is quite similar to England: girls are encouraged to go to school, to work and also have children and a husband. Although if your skirt is a little too short an old woman might tell you off. The British economy is better and in terms of education and resources I have a lot more access in Britain.
10. Do you have a desire to live in Zambia at any point in your life, or in any other part of the world?
I don’t think I’ve been enough times in my adult life to know. I think just because my parents left it’s never been in my mind to leave England and live there! I definitely want to live somewhere else, even if only for a while. Somewhere less wet and more exciting.
12. Can you give examples of art, literature or other forms that you feel represent your experiences?
Ngozi Onwurah and Isaac Julien’s films are amazing. Zadie Smith’s books such as White Teeth were extremely informative and Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions was so close to home. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Chris Offili’s pieces are gorgeous and rich in different ways. I feel like these artists represent Africa, blackness and Britain in very interesting and refreshing ways. Although set in France Sembene’s Black Girl is also wonderful.
Extra Details on Chibeza
Equality & Diversity Committee: I go to the committee with things that can be improved or issues to discuss relating to race and ethnicity, if a group has an issue I can bring it to our student union and the issue would be addressed. Also I collaborate and create events and relating to ethnic minority student but I also help out with things regarding to LGBT+ students, students with disabilities and other minority groups as of course there are intersections within these groups.
Dissertation: And I’m doing my dissertation on the representations of mixed race women with a black/white background in British cinema. In previous years the White British public thought that mixed race children were a bi-product of a diseased society and they were largely oppressed and marginalised. Mixed race people are now the largest growing ethnic group in Britain and the media heralds them as examples of a ‘‘post-racial’’ society. I found that mixed-race women are often fetishized, hypersexual used and made invisible.