By Rob Burns, with permission from Gavin Odhiambo Okello-Davies to post on Black History Bootleg.
British-Kenyan, “I am a Mulattress of Kenyan Celtic origins. I am a sexual lover of men and an emotional lover of females. I am as comfortable crossing myself in a Russian Orthodox church as I am chanting in a Buddhist temple.
“My Mother is from a village near Kisumu, a city in western Kenya which borders a body of water they call Lake Victoria. She is of the Luo tribe, the blood of which runs through the veins of Barack Obama and Lupita Nyong’o. My Father was born on The Wirral, a peninsula nestled between Liverpool, Chester and North Wales. It is the birthplace of British dignitaries Daniel Craig and Hyacinth Bucket.
“I and the rest of this generation have access to educational material and images of empowerment every time we log in to social media. The looming shadow of colonialism and dehumanisation is being lifted with each day, and we now wield a power that previous generations could have only dreamt about.
“In the past, those living in the darkness were powerless to the roles of oppressor and oppressed they were handed by the world. Now, we have agency.
“I went back to Wales this month after a decade and felt a frozen part of my heart melt away when a Welsh Father told me:
‘You’re a bloody Celt, and don’t forget it!’.
“The Welsh still see themselves as an oppressed ethnic group colonised by the English, and the ‘White vs. Black’ paradigm evaporated as I understood that’s playing by their rules: it was never about colour, but always about power.
“Being guided through the pronunciation of that ancient, mystical language was humbling in a way I never felt when learning the languages of the old colonial powers. I adorn myself in kente cloth when dining in the restaurants of Babylon, greet my people in Swahili and shout, ‘Vive l’Afrique’ when speaking to Africans in France. I wear my négritude as a glistening jewel as I occupy space in the Global North and will sip a glass of cognac worth thousands whilst I spoon more shito onto my plate at Auntie Julie’s house.
“I have been blessed in this life with beauty, intelligence, brilliance and kindness. My mission is to hold onto this light and shine it onto others so they can see it too.”
Paolo Zeriali interview with Gavin Odhiambo Okello-Davies