How I was Destined to be the First Arogbo Ijaw Canadian
It is, of course, a matter of some debate whether I truly am the First Arogbo Ijaw Canadian of mixed heritage. My father is convinced of this fact. Actually, he considers the siring of the first “half-White” Arobgo Ijaw Canadian to be one, if not the, greatest accomplishment of his life.
I have written earlier about the Ijaw concept of destiny or fate. I wonder if in some way my father tried to defy his destiny by coming to Canada and so, although granted his wish of having a half-White child, something he had dreamed of doing since he was nine years old and had seen his first White man, a Lutheran missionary, he was not allowed to stay here. The circumstances of my father’s deportation and my subsequent disconnection from him seem to be the stuff of Ijaw tragedy.
But I was not only conceived by one person. There is also my mother and her fate.
You see, just as if I was to be born to my father I was destined to be half-White, if I was to be born to my mother I was destined to be half-Black.
My mother only dated Black men since she was a teenager. She felt safer with Black men, due to the abuse she experienced in her home and in early relationships with White men, she had come to fear them. But Black people, Black men in particular, had always struck her as “safe” and kind. I think she watched too many Sidney Poitier movies growing up. I wonder how many mixed race folks owe their existence to the aura of Sidney Poitier?
My mother had grown up watching Black people on television-dignified and great men like Poitier and Martin Luther King, Jr. She first met Black people in the flesh during a trip to Windsor, Ontario, when she was about eight. She had wandered away from her mother and found herself in front of a Black Baptist Church. She heard the singing of the choir and was drawn in. She thought this church was far more entertaining than the ones in Alymer, Quebec. The congregation welcomed her and she felt the warmth of their community. My grandmother eventually found her and was furious. I believe from that moment, I was destined to be my mother’s daughter.
But I must say, I have been a disappointment. I have never exuded the level of warmth my mother expected to radiate from me due to my African heritage. My mother made the mistake of confusing culture with genetics. She expected that African American Gospel Culture would run in my veins. From an early age my mother was horrified in my taste in music. Although she was raising me on the rhythms of Motown, as a child I prefered the angst ridden lyrics of pasty, emaciated White boys like Morrissey (Note: If your child is listening to Morrissey before the age of 15 you really should seek out medical help). When I turned 11 I got into Nirvana and the whole Grunge Movement. In my teens, the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was my favourite album. This was not what my mother had hoped for.
And in the end, my father was not what my mother had hoped for either. He was no Sidney Poitier. He couldn’t save her in all the ways she wanted to be saved (If she had been really paying attention to the words they were singing in the Baptist Church she would have known that only Jesus could do this). I believe this disappointment was one of the many reasons why she decided to revoke her sponsorship of my father, inevitably leading to his deportation. She would later regret this and tried to say that she wanted to sponsor him again but she kept changing her mind each time she had a falling out with him and so the courts didn’t believe her.
So in the end, neither of my parents really got what they wanted but their longing led to my creation. I was destined to have them as my parents.
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