• emmanuelcezzanne

A tale of two Kingdoms.

In my late teens there were moments where pity tended to my emotions but looking back at my childhood, I find myself feeling very grateful for my experiences.

I had the opportunity to experience life in both African culture and Western society. The first 10 years of my childhood were spent in the Kingdom of Benin, and the second half in the United Kingdom.

In Benin, I was raised by Grandpapa, grandmamma and the community around me - as my parents went off to the University of Edinburgh to study. I saw my parents just twice in nine years, and I can remember longing to be reunited with them, but at the same time, life in Benin was very magical. My Grandpapa (Joseph) was a soldier. He fought in the Burma war and later travelled through Europe on other adventures. He always kept me in attention and taught me how to be tough. My Grandmamma, aka Nene, was beyond a wonder woman. Words are unable to describe what she means to me. I remember occasions when, sitting by the burning fire, the flames of her silhouette illuminated limitless desire. I also remember when, with her bare hands, she killed a snake and picked up a semi-burning charcoal, both times unmoved and unshaken. She chanted at every hand she touched with spells of joyful bringing. She was a devout Catholic and is forever my hero in both man and woman may her soul travel in joyful peace (T.I.P). Hail Juliana, full of grace, the universe is with thee, blessed is she among honourable women and blessed be her fruits among the living.

Together, my grandparents imparted on me many valuable life lessons - respect, calmness, have will, have desire, believe in the magic of yourself and always render love to thy neighbour.

Coming to the United Kingdom was a big shock to my system. It really wasn’t what I pictured. There were no good morning, good afternoon or goodnights to thy neighbour, and everyone seemed so close and yet, so far. Primary school provided some joy. The Irish dominated my school and, well, from my experience they are a lovely, joyful bunch. Secondary school was of a different texture; picky, rough and pretty harsh. There were more mean kids, some of whom attempted to give me a hard time. Indeed, a time came where my grand dad's spirit took control of my emotions, when I had to show a particular boy that although I had kept steadfast during his abuse, I had the power to fight ‘til he could fight no more. Back at home, my parents were ever so strict, so one would only fight when forced, for punishment was my only reward for victory in battle.

So, here I am today, all of the above has contributed towards my journey thus far and keeps me in good stead for the eventualities of tomorrow.

By Mani or Many Geez

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