Nadia Owusu c Jenna Pace

Nadia Owusu

How Can We Reconstruct Lives Torn Apart?

Festival of Ideas Online/
Mon 22 February 2021

Crowdcast

Nadia Owusu

How Can We Reconstruct Lives Torn Apart?

Nadia Owusu c Jenna Pace
Mon 22 February 2021,

Crowdcast

This event was part of our online programme and took place on our Crowdcast channel. You can watch it HERE.

Nadia Owusu tells how she has spent much of her life in a fractured world in crisis – and how she has hauled herself out of its wreckage.

She is a woman of many languages, homelands and identities who grew up in Rome, Dar-es-Salaam, Addis Ababa, Kumasi, Kampala and London. And for every new place there was a new language, a new identity and a new home. At times she has felt stateless, motherless and identity-less. At others, she has had multiple identities at war within her.

When she was two years old her mother abandoned her and her baby sister and fled from Tanzania back to the US. When she was thirteen her beloved Ghanaian father died of cancer. She and her sister were left alone, with a stepmother they didn’t like, adrift.

She says: ‘I began to think of my life as existing on fault lines… I was a global citizen and a person without a clear home and I’ve often felt like an outsider.’

She explains how she came to grapple with the psychological wounds that result from an accumulation of trauma, drawing upon the metaphor of the ripple effects of earthquakes. Her story is her own but the themes of race, family, belonging and autonomy are universal.

In conversation with Madhu Krishnan.

Nadia Owusu book jacket

Nadia Owusu’s Aftershocks: Dispatches From the Frontlines of Identity is published by Sceptre. Buy a copy from Waterstones, our bookselling partners.

Image credit Jenna Pace.

 

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