Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 1 November 2018

Re: Does Citizenship Shape Identity: A Third Culture


by Elwathig Kameir

My response to Raeiya’s article: "Does Citizenship Shape Identity: A Third Culture"! Congrats. This is really an excellent piece, expressive and reflective of how 2nd generation immigrants think of themselves and relates to a diverse new society. It’s correct that Identify, particularly for this category of immigrants, can be defined neither by citizenship nor by place of origin. It is rather acquired through cumulative life experiences and interactions with diverse communities and cultures. It is a piece of cake to adapt to, since the socialization process has unfolded in an international environment!

True, there is a "third culture". Identity is defined by ourselves, like "self-determination" is defined by one’s self! It’s a choice. The article sheds light on the concepts of *citizenship" and "identity" and provides a "3rd path" to define one’s relationship with the new complex society people have found themselves living in. However, the question of identity is not a Sudanese problem. It applies to all communities of Immigrants, with similar circumstances.

Indeed, the issue of identity has always been a burning and controversial issue, not only for immigrants but for the Sudanese at large. The question is not yet settled. Some people relate their identity to Arabs, others to Africans, while some others define their identity as Muslims. It’s still a debatable question. Therefore, even the Sudanese born-and-bred in Sudan and citizens of the country have experienced wars and bloodshed, and are poised to shed more blood in the ensuing conflict over identity.

On the same wavelength, my thesis is that integration is the methodology, or password, for making a "real force" of the "third culture* population! For a while now, I have been thinking of writing a piece on the Sudanese Diaspora. The first generation who came to North America were like the "labour migrants" to the Arab Gulf countries. Making money and building a house to return back home upon retirement was the goal. Now, however, the situation is completely different, with daughters and sons growing up in North America, they are destined to live as "citizens" and peacefully coexist in a diverse society and culture. Neither the 1st generation Immigrants, nor their families, sons, and daughters, are going back to Sudan in the foreseeable future, if ever.

Citizenship, by necessity, dictates the value and process of integration in the new environment, where rights and obligations are defined and protected by the law. Resistance to integration, under the pretext of its contradiction with an *imagined original identity", will only lead to isolation and failure!

Therefore, I am of the opinion that the 2nd generation Immigrants should direct serious efforts towards creating influence and impact within the political and social domains. One way for effective participation is to engage in the competition for executive and legislative positions at all levels of governance structures. This by no means contradicts our belonging to Sudan or our perceived identity. It is the right of everybody to define themselves culturally, socially and individually!

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