Translator: Brian Vuksanovich
Reviewer: Huanna Tang
Where is home?
Where do you belong?
All my life I’ve been confronted
with these questions,
Where do I belong?
For many of us, belonging means,
belonging to a family.
Well, I was born in Liberia,
and I grew up in a family
that consisted of more
than a hundred people.
It was a vibrant family.
My uncles and aunts functioned
as my parents besides my real parents.
I had family members
from neighboring countries
from Guinea and Sierra Leone.
I felt loved and appreciated.
But many a time
I had this vague sense of belonging.
For some of us belonging means
belonging to a place.
I’ve lived in many countries in the world,
I’ve lived in Kuwait,
in Syria and in the Netherlands.
In Kuwait I encountered a culture
that was very different from mine
in many ways.
And I thought,
if I mastered the Arabic language,
if I integrated into the Kuwaiti society,
I thought I could belong.
I learned Arabic.
I integrated into the Kuwaiti society,
so much so, that at one point
I dressed like a Kuwaiti.
I had this white gown on.
And I moved to Syria, because of war.
In Syria, I felt that if I read
the Syrian history,
if I visited all the castles
built by the crusaders and the Muslims,
during a pivotal period in human history,
I thought I could belong.
It was the same in the Netherlands,
When I came to the Netherlands
I learned Dutch,
and I built on my passion for literature,
in fact it was in the Netherlands
that I felt that I could read
any book that I wanted.
But many a times,
I felt that I did not belong
to all these new places.
And when I had this feeling,
when I had this sense of not belonging
to all these places,
memory gave me security.
As I reflected more and more
on an idealized past picture of the past.
In fact, the pursuit of these
idealized pictures of the past
led me to becoming a writer.
But as I grew up,
and returned to these places,
that I’d remembered,
I felt less and less connected.
I felt less and less a sense
of even belonging to my past.
Being part of a group of people,
a culture or living in a phisical place
isn’t what creates a sense of home.
Belonging for me is a choice,
a choice of you and me.
My sense of belonging is not complete
without a feeling, without the conviction,
that you belong to me.
When you look around you,
can you say truly
that you’ve contributed
to others feeling at home?
To others feeling, a sense of belonging?
Where is home?

Thank you.
(Applause)

Where is home? Where do you belong? | Vamba Sherif | TEDxGroningen
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5 thoughts on “Where is home? Where do you belong? | Vamba Sherif | TEDxGroningen

  • June 1, 2016 at 3:26 pm
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    where do I belong? is one the most deepest and difficult answers to find. its so basic but so powerful

    Reply
  • June 2, 2016 at 8:27 pm
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    Anywhere you feel the comfort of life is where you belong. It's called home. All we need is just that stability of mind a perfect companionship….

    Reply
  • June 4, 2016 at 10:06 am
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    And this most simple, basic question…. places humanity on the course of knowledge as answer upon answer lead to more questions. For one who has lived in the diaspora most of my life, it is more than the matter of location,

    Reply
  • October 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm
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    Beautiful talk 🙂 Short, precise, from the heart. Well done Vamba. Regards from Bolivia.

    Reply
  • July 5, 2019 at 12:15 pm
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    Wow, this is powerful, Vamba

    Reply

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