To truly celebrate Black History Month, there is one person that I must bring to the forefront, my mother. And to do so properly I must talk about the journey she made to a country so unlike her own, with a baby in tow (me).
My parents made the decision to move to England when Angola was still in the grip of civil war. Together, they flew away from the continent to an island nation. Here, they did what all immigrants do, they adapt, they learn a new language, and keep their mother tongue for the home.
I was just one when I came here and as a daughter of parents who longed for home, I was raised on traditional food and music. Then came my sister a couple of years later. Born here, but arguably more Angolan than I am in ways. My mother is one for appreciating the new. She fully took on board the opportunities afforded to her, whether it was through work or through education she embraced what it meant to be in England.
As a child, I remember her dedication to my sister and me. She worked hard for us, working multiple jobs and still made it to our school plays. She loved to take us to different parts of London, just for the sake of exploring. I have treasured memories of little holidays to Brighton, Nottingham and Ipswich. My mother wanted to make sure that our field of vision was as wide as she could give us. She encouraged her daughters to dream of travelling one day and to explore the world.
In many ways, my mother was pioneer. She was not one to be confined, even when others tried to do so. She faced the future with her faith and joy and continued onto what she believed was true. As a family, we have faced many ups and downs. When we became a single parent household, she refused to allow this to be a defining factor or the reason for failure. With her ability to dream for better things and her incredible work ethic, she showed by example that to be an adventurer meant that you had to have courage to define yourself and the world around you. You had to acknowledge that the road was rough but there is always a way. It may not be the way you had expected but all that meant was your story was still being written.
To celebrate Black History Month, I must acknowledge where I come from, the story of my mother and the place from which we come from, Angola. My identity is wrapped up in the duality of being from Africa and being British. Our mother taught us many lessons, how to love one another, honour our culture but also to progress and do new things. That we are not bound by what others say or think, we only limit ourselves. Lessons that I intend to pass onto my own children.
This is a tribute to my mother, who continues to be an example of what it means to carry our history with pride while also looking to the future with hope and resilience. Her name is Carla.
Happy Black History Month!