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February 5, 2024

Mamuna Oyofo on being a Third Culture Kid

by Nyla Hasan

Mamuna Oyofo on being a Third Culture Kid
The øther series: "Where are you from?" A charged question with no simple answer. Featuring Mamuna (@moyofo), a "Third Culture Kid" who has defined home & her motherland on her own terms:⁠

"I was born in Atlanta. I was raised in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. And my family's from Nigeria. I grew up in Cairo and I also spent most of my life in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, predominantly in Jakarta, but I also lived in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.⁠

Jakarta is home for me. I think just in words of the food, the culture, the people. It's where I spent my formative years so that feels like home to me. I played a lot of sports and was in an art and music theory program and so I traveled a lot to other countries and developed deep friendships with a lot of people. It was great being in Southeast Asia because it all felt like home. Even when I traveled somewhere I did not know the language, I always felt at home. I think because I always felt connected to the people.⁠

I'm othered regardless of where I am, in Indonesia, even though I connect with the culture. I'm not an Asian per se, but I can speak the language and I can come off as such. And Egypt. I speak the language, but I'm not Egyptian. So it's always that you're the expat. You're an outside person coming in. Nigeria, you know, I am Nigerian, but I don't speak the language my parents do. I have family but I don't connect with them, I didn't grow up there. So I don't have that deep connection.⁠

My friends always laugh like they know that I don't know any references from the black community, like, I don't, I know nothing. I am honestly more Asian than I am full black. And I'm probably more Nigerian than I am. Yeah, it's like I’m African...then American. The two aren't really together.⁠

In some communities I'm Nigerian, in some I'm African American, to some I'm American, to some I'm a foreigner, I'm a VP or Shopify leader, I'm a product leader, I'm a wife, I'm a mother... I mean folks don't think about all of the spaces they are even operating in. ⁠

Truly I feel at home when I'm with the people who grew up with me because there is no assumption, there is no definition, you can just be."⁠
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