Sunday, August 14, 2011

Proud About My Origins, Part I

My grandmother with her parents, 1st of February 1930
My mother, 1966

“Where are you from?” This question I’ve been asked around 4000 times in the last 9,8 years since I live in Austria and despite I tend to answer: “From Planet Earth!” I have to stay polite but give an unsatisfying answer: “From Romania!”. My answer, mostly leads to a series of curious questions and every time I regret giving the honest answer that precedes to them because it’s really tiring…

I was born in Bucharest on a snowy December day of the year 1980. I have a twin sister, Denise that arrived 10 minutes before me and despite her prior delivery, some people say that the second born is actually the older one. It could be true as she weighted 18oo gr. and I, 2200 gr. Our parents met during their university studies, my mother is Ukrainian and my father, Nigerian. Due to their origins they are a mix of other nations that colonized their land. My sister and I were raised by our mother as she refused to leave Romania and her parents (that lived in Bucharest) to follow together with us, our hot tempered father to Lagos. I am very happy about her decision despite the difficulties of not having a father besides.

December 1980
February 1981
Summer 1981
My father loved to photograph and be photographed, 1980

We’ve spent our childhood in a nice, working class neighborhood and during communism, the society was divided between the working and intellectual class. Inside the two classes it was another division between the party and Securitatea members and the non members. Both my parents are intellectuals who tried to keep the distance from politics and despite small issues, we’ve blended very well in our community and people were respecting my mother, almost all our neighbors calling her “the professor” so at one point that became a nick name and very few knew her name.


My childhood went on a relatively normal path, quite different as the majority for not having a father and being of a different skin color. My mother’s brother never forgave her for having us. My grandmother was torn between the love for her son and the love for us and many times she had to keep our beautiful relation as secret to his family (my aunt and cousins).

My mother and her brother in the early 70s
My mother in the early 70s

During communism, most of the people feared and rejected what was new, special and different. Behavior that I somehow understand as the outside world contact was limited or forbidden by Ceausescu. In the early 80’ my mother lost her job as a teacher for having us, as it meant of being immoral to have children with a black man. She regained her job with apologies at the same school after the revolution.

Nicolae Ceausescu

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