3Brits in the 6ix!

I’d just moved to Toronto, Canada. I felt like I would be the only thirty *mumbles* something* year old woman of colour doing this. I felt like I would just put my head down, get on with things, and my 24 months would be up in no time.

A lot of my friends find this hard to believe, but I consider myself a bit of an introvert. I enjoy my own company, and would prefer spending my days at home rather than socializing, but I was in a new country and environment, so I had to push myself and make it known to Toronto that Roz has arrived!

I was just a week and a half in when I went to a networking event with a woman that I had connected with from a Meet-Up group.

I remember feeling somewhat nervous as I didn’t know what to expect, but also realizing that I had to talk to people, and be prepared for the whole,’oh I love you’re accent’ and for my response each time to be with a smile and to say in my best British accent ‘faaaaaaaanks!’

When we got to the event, it wasn’t too bad an atmosphere nor nerve wracking anymore. Their was a nice amount of people in attendance, and also enough room to maneuver around in.

They made us play an ice breaker game where we had to find 3 people to introduce ourselves to, get their names, and write it on our name badge to prove that we had actually done it. In my head I was like for fuxx sake! But once I got over being slightly annoyed, I went ahead and did it anyway.

I first met a nice older lady. She’d told me she had some connects in Radio and TV, and wanted to connect me to a friend of hers in the industry in Toronto. We exchanged details and went on our way. This was a great start, I was already on a roll, so I went ahead and made my next move.

I saw two people talking in the corner, and straight away was thinking easy! I can now kill two birds with one stone, and my ice breaker mission will be complete.

I went and introduced myself to both quickly, shook hands and all I was trying to hear was both of their names to write on my name badge. At first I thought they were ‘together’ and was being polite and trying to gage them out, the guy was chatty and the girl was smiley!

Whilst in conversation, the girl then said to me, ‘nice accent’ and I of course I replied with a smile and thanks!

15 minutes into our convo, with the music being turned down a little, I could hear the girl more clearly. I thought my ears were deceiving me…. ‘wait’ I said, ‘you’re British too?!’ She replied, ‘yes! That’s why I said to you nice accent!’

I felt so silly for not realizing, and once I’d gotten over that I started to ask a whole bunch of questions to my fellow Brit.

When did you arrive in Toronto? Where are you from in London? Where do you live here? How are you finding it so far? Tell me everything!

An Open Letter To My Estranged Family

It was Thursday February 8th 2007 (my Mum’s birthday) when my house phone rang at around 5:00am. We all know that whenever you get a call that early in the morning, it’s usually not good news. I could hear my mother break down in tears from my bedroom. I ran downstairs to find out what was wrong, but I kind of already knew. My Aunt, my Mum’s big sister who had suddenly falling ill in Ghana had died.

This was a shock to my system, I just couldn’t comprehend the news, she had just left England which she frequently visited, at what seemed like every other month, so how is it possible that she went back, and this time passed away?

I worked at Royal Free Hospital for the patient transport services at the time, and to try and distract myself from the news, I decided to go into work that day. That was a fail. I was crying so bad that they sent me home, and they gave me a ride home too.

I remember getting out of the ambulance on that snowy day, and almost not wanting to go into my parents house to face this reality, my aunt, my second mum is dead, how could this be real?

We went through the traditional motions which in itself is traumatic, at times depressing, and also hard work, especially as a female as you have to be the server at all functions, and basically have no choice but to be on your feet to hydrate, and feed these people that have come to pay their respects.

I travelled 6 hours to Ghana from England for just 5 days to attend my Aunt’s funeral. I could not miss getting to say goodbye, despite it being what I thought would be my final year at University, and a crucial time of getting my work/dissertation done, I had to do this.

Coming back was tough, it was still coming back to the reality of what had happened. A lot of the family had obviously spent more than 5 days in Ghana as they had the flexibility to do so, so it was hard knowing that they were all still far away, and the reason why.

Little did I know that this untimely death would break up and disconnect my family when in fact it should have brought us closer together.

Different cultures carry different traditions, and there was one that we followed whilst my Aunt was on this earth, but as soon as she left this earth, it’s almost like my mothers now 4 siblings thought she had taken them with her to the grave.

Things slowly changed, it was a weird time, for me especially as I was always so connected with everyone in my family regardless of where they lived in the world. As things went from bad to worse, it slowly transcended to the cousins. Due to their parents feuding with my Mother, the cousins took it upon themselves to get involved in something that is none of their business. We are grown adults that needn’t take anybody’s side. Two of my cousins and I made a pact to not let this family feud get in the way of our relationship, as far as I am concerned, I am the only one that kept the pact.

Recently I heard a bunch of different things going on within my family. With the disconnect in place, and also me no longer living in London, England, I wasn’t sure of what was true or not, and I guess a big part of me didn’t want to believe what was possibly happening.

I had heard that my Mother’s estranged younger sister was coming to England from the USA for 3 days, why just 3 days? Why such a short time…. what is really going on I wondered?

I spoke to my Dad yesterday, he confirmed all speculation, and told me some bad news is soon to be coming our way. My Mothers sister in-law, the sister in-law my Mum shares the same Birthday with, February 8th, (the same date that we heard the news that my aunt had passed in 2007)

When my Dad told me the news, I didn’t know what to think or feel. I have been disconnected from them for so long that it seems hard to just pick up the phone and make contact. It is so easy for others to say just call otherwise you will regret it, but this blog post is not enough to cover everything that has happened within the family over the course of 10 years.

I woke up angry today, angry at my lack of emotion at this time, angry that none of my cousins, despite everything, didn’t feel the need to share this terrible news with me, angry that it has come to this.

I shouldn’t be surprised, because it was one person’s death that sadly broke the family up in the first place, but this cuts deep.

To my family, my grown adult cousins that may read this, let me give you one piece of advice; your parents are always going to be your parents, but please remember that like ourselves, they are not perfect. Moving forward please try and think for yourselves. Do not take sides nor continue to hide under mummy and daddy’s protection, because remember, they are not always going to be around……

From your estranged niece/cousin,

Roslyn Kufuor