Embodying Ancestry: Bobo

Themes: South Africa, jewelry, fashion, parents, blood, lineage, race

“A lot of the time I felt like being [100% South African] was boring, like “Uh, I just wish I was more exotic.” I know we hate that word. But I sort of had an envy for people who were mixed because I think it just makes you more compelling. I don’t know, I felt bland. Like, ‘Oh I’m just South African.’ But now I know. Now I understand my Sauce. But I don’t think any black girl understands their sauce growing up.” 

“If I could talk to my younger self, I would say… It sounds so simplistic, but I would say, ‘This is who you are!’ It’s just that simple and that is enough. That’s just enough. You don’t need a mix. This is raw sauce, fam! You’re good!” 

“Biologically I’m half and half. Half Tswana. Half Zulu. But I’m not attached to the Zulu side of the family any more. I’ve grown up with 100% Tswana traditions. You know, when I get married I’ll have a Tswana wedding. Things like that. I know the language, but I also don’t speak the language, which is also because I’ve been moving around so much. I also don’t feel like I know Zulu culture that much. I don’t think i can really attach myself to a culture that’s just running through my veins when you haven’t lived it. At what point is something your culture? I think you have to live that culture for it to be truly yours.” 

“To me, these beads are representative of my culture and my culture is an extension of me. I think it’s ironic because I don’t necessarily feel at home when I’m home, but i feel like these beads represent a bridge. They bridge that gap that i feel about the idea of home and it’s something I can carry around with me.”

“This is the fabric that my sister-in-law wore to her wedding when she got married to my brother. This piece on my head is what my mom wore to her own traditional wedding. There are a lot of wedding vibes in this ensemble, ironically. And these beads, actually my friend Noz makes them. They’re South African. Ndebele beads. You might have seen them in Black Panther. This is the real thing guys. From the motherland.” 

“What I’ve concluded is that a lot of ancestry is imagined. Either way, it doesn’t make a difference to my lived experience whether someone is my blood. So, for instance, even if i have a blood father who is absent, that doesn’t make him any more of a father than my father who is present, but not blood. So I think a lot of these concepts of ancestry and lineage are socially constructed, are imagined. At the end of the day we decide. I decide what matters and what doesn’t, what is real and what isn’t.” 

More Participants

Lontia | Marylin | Amy | Jasmine | Christie | Geraldine | Patricia | Laura | Angela & Diana | Tsedaye | Eddie | Lola | Briana | Simone | SINI | Italy | Ekua | Anika | Reem | Bobo | Kei | Macy | Sarah | DaMonique | Nandi | Anise | Yadira

%d bloggers like this: