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Roots

December 19, 2005

So I went round to my Uncle’s over the weekend for dinner. As usual the heated debate between my father and uncle and others revolved around the usual subjects. Ranging from Religion to Politics back to Religion and then just for a little variety, some more Politics.

In these 2 genres we have the following topics for discussion:
Religion: “Why Islam is the best.”;”Why Everyone hates muslims.”
Politics: “9/11”; “Conspiracy theories”; “International politics”; “Bush”; “Blair”; “Israel”; “Bangladeshi politics”

It was the last of these which just as I was leaving prompted my cousin to ask: “Why do they bother about a country they left so many years ago?”

I gave her an off the cuff comment which didnt do justice to such an important question. But it did get me thinking. Why do we worry so much about a country which is so far away and which I may have at most spent 5 years of my life in it.

Ultimately I think it is about our roots. It is about knowing where I am from. If I go back far enough, my family are not from Bangladesh. My mother’s family are from modern day Iraq and my fathers from Yemen. But that was hundreds of years ago (about 350-400). So my forefathers settled in the foothills leading down to the delta of the Ganges. And they eventually lost track of their roots as I expect wouild my descendants if I were to remain in the UK. Thousands of people leave the UK every year to move to places such as Spain, Australia, the US, Canada and New Zealand. Will they eventually lose their roots? It only takes 3 generations for it to happen. For example, many people do not keep in touch with their Uncles and Aunts and so their children are even further from being known well. Yet the human race’s blood-ties spread far.

Alex Haley wrote about his Roots, but where does the journey for my roots begin? And will my great great grandchildren wonder why they are where they are?

There is a second issue here when I think about what has happened to the former republic of Yugoslavia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is now a predominantly Muslim state. But what led to its establishment. It was the beating they received at the hands of individuals whom they considered friends and neighbours. Integration in Yugoslavia was to such a high degree that I have heard some Bosnians say that they did not even know their roots were in the Ottoman empire and the Islamic faith.

So what happens if the same thing happens in the UK? Will I be considered a second class citizen although I consider this country mine. I was born here. I was brought up here. This is my home. But my beliefs would mean that I am not the best of British Citizens. All Brits are equal but some Brits are more equal than others. But having roots and understanding where I have come from may help me understand where I may be going and also would mean that if I have to look at the whole world as my home as opposed to just this set of Islands, then it would be important for me to have somewhere else where I can at least, if only temporarily, put down my feet and feel safe.

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3 Comments
  1. intergalacticacid permalink

    What I do know as an itinerant worker who has lived in four countries, is that the more you travel the less anywhere is home. I find that I am a foreigner everywhere I go, even in the country that I was born in.

    I don”t quite fit anywhere anymore, maybe that is also a trait of the new global community, my identity now is global. Furthermore, I am not religious, I can”t identify with anyone there as well.

    Thus if you still have roots that you identify with, hang on to them!

  2. You”ve just reminded me of a post I made back in July this year.
    Basically, I should see myself as part of the global community, but interestingly the roots are hard to lose.

  3. i love your blog, great !

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