Sunday, February 1, 2009


“Know thy self, and to man and God be true

I've recently watched the golden globe winner 'Slum Dog Millionaire' a Danny Boyle film, director of another favorite of mine 'trinspotting'. It was a superbly directed movie (duh) although it's low budget was obvious, this didn't seem to make it look cheap. The story was complete and the characters were clearly defined yet there was some ambiguity about them that had to do with their life situation. If you haven't seen it yet I wont spoil it for you, all I would say is that it was as deserving of its golden globes as Heath Ledger was of his Oscar (!YEAH!!!).

Anyway after we turned off the computer and snuggled in to bed I couldn't fall asleep. Something about the movie was picking at my brain. You see earlier that evening I was reading a book by H.D Lawrence called the 'Plumed Serpent'. I hadn't gotten very far, chapter 3 to be exact, but it was obvious that a central theme in the novel was identity. This book tackled the strange dark ambiguity of Mexico and Mexicans and their seemingly lack and search of an identity.

You see you wouldn't quite get it unless you've lived there, but Mexicans are a very strange and contradicting people. They are complacent yet always against something, always protesting an “injustice”. They are lazy but most of them work 6 days a week sun up to sun down. Their favorite saying is !Viva Mexico! But here there is so much death not just of the body but also of the soul. They do not know who they are, and thus can never be congruent in their actions.

There seemed to be a slightly similar thing happening in 'Slum Dog Millionaire'. There is a struggle with identity that equally is not so much on a personal basis
but on a national level. The whole of India is caught up with the implications of identity, caught up in the web of labels and stereotypes so much that people do not even know who they are, only who they are supposed to be.

I began to think about my own identity, about where I came from, my roots. My thoughts drifted to my ancestors. To who they were before they were sold into slavery, what their names were, what they did for a living, where they had lived. I thought about their forced journey, their lives as slaves and how they lived after 1833. I wondered about how their blood came down through time to reach to me, and if they were in some place looking down on me.

It made me think in my father, a Rastaman whose dream it is to reach the shores of the land of his ancestors. And for the first time I truly understood how he feels. That night I had a hole inside me that I felt could not be filled unless I had something more to hold on to than a history of slavery and vague stories of a great civilizations. I understood then the drive Alex Heley had to find out where he had come from. It seemed to be the only thing that could complete me.

Deep down I think we all need that sense of connection to something that could define us, that could give us a sense of origin and identity. Marcus Garvey once said; “For man to know himself is for him to feel that for him there is no human master” I supposed that being dominated for so many centuries by others had taken away my identity. I felt no bitterness nor hate, just an insatiable need to know.