Why identity is important

By Dominic Woja Maku
September 27, 2007
Posted to the web on August 27, 2007

In today's world it is very significant to identify oneself with at least one thing (ones ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, or a particular belief). Many people still grapple with the notion of identity in many countries, regions, and variuos ways in order to fit or adapt into any environment (social, economic, cultural, political, etc). Ones identity determines ones position or situation in society whereever one lives. However, finding the right type of identity can be challenging for many people somtimes because of the difficulties they face in the process of choosing their identities.

Some tend to identify with their ethnicity (where they come from [nationality/country]). Some people identify themselves as Irish, Germans, Italian, Ugandan, Ethiopean, Egyptian, Sudanese, etc. But for many ethnic identification can be problematic in a sense that they find it consciously or unconsciously difficult to choose between their own ethnicity and that of others. For example, the decision to chooce ones ethnic affiliation is influenced by ones cultural attachment (what one does in daily life [the way one dresses, eats, cooks, talks, etc). These cultural traits act as determinants/indicators of how one looks (physical charateristics [facial appearance, hieght, skin colour, etc). Today some young people, men and women find themselves ingulfed into strange and foreign cultures (foreign because of culture shock), and hence, they get lost on the way. They then find it a little bit challenging to negotiate their way out of the prevailing culture shock they have adopted/inherited.

Many people identify themselves with race (Negroid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, etc. in that order). Even if there is only one race (the human race) many still belief in racism (the process of categorizing humans into racial categories such as above. Racism is a social construct (it is socially constructed and it exists in the minds of those who percieve it as important in determining ones or other people's identity in society. Some people take racism seriously and they do not want to give up the idea.

With identity (racial, ethinic, national, religious, or, cultural) come some forms of privileges and discrimination. Ones skin colour for example, determines what one gets or not get in other societies. Your skin colour is your identity and it is the one that will take you or not take you somewhere (to get employment opportunities, qualitative education, economic privileges, political cooptation/position, etc). Your social position in society is determined by your skin colour on matter how much you pretend because your uniqueness and distinction is can be easily spoted (you are a visible minority). You can be seen clearly where ever you go. However, you are invisible (your voice can not be heard when you speak to people who are different from you). They will not listen to you because you are different. You can be discriminated against and excluded from society (process of ellienation).

Since you are a Sudanese you should be able to identify yourselves with your ethnic, cultural, traditional, traits (nationality). If you do not do that then somebody else will tribalize you so that you could one day wake up in the morning and begin to hate other people simply because of their tribal differences or their cultural, racial, religious, differences. Remember when you identify yourselves with something you believe in it and it will influence your behaviour. If you identified yourself with a tribe, the way you behave and act reflect what/who you are. Thus, identity is very important.




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