guest post: The generation of change / ibrahim kamara

My name is Ibrahim Kamara. My mum and dad are immigrants from Sierra Leone, West Africa, making me first generation British. Many of you may be able to agree with me when I say that being first-generation comes with strong identity, culture and great teachings. On the contrary, it also can come with a lot of traditional thinking and rules that many of us now question or believe are outdated. From relationships to career choices, the role of the sexes and identity, the immigrant diaspora are conflicting conventional ways of thinking and living, a by-product of the clash between old and new.

Who we are today is an accumulated product of our experiences and information we have been given, throughout our lives. This means for many of our parents who were born pre-internet, who they became and what they knew mainly depended on the culture they were brought up in, the religion they followed, and the society they were a part of. The lack of diversity in people and experiences, led to common characteristics and viewpoints across the board. This means whether information passed on was opinion or fact, nine times out of ten it was probably followed with no questioning.

While this is great for building traditions and cultures, it can be seen as quite detrimental in other aspects. If you are young, African and let’s say a creative, you’ve probably had endless battles with your parents trying to tell them that this is what you want to do for a living. They probably are insisting you go and get a “proper job”. The thoughts of “when they see money they will change”, “they’re stuck in their ways” or “they just don’t get it” may sound oh too familiar.

Many of our parents were painted a picture of what a proper job was and the lack of visibility of individuals like them in creative jobs made it seem impossible (or they didn’t even know these jobs existed). Coming over to England, a lot of our parents didn’t really have a choice of what job they would do. They just needed to survive and make money. This again narrowed the viewpoint of what was possible as their experiences said otherwise.

Growing up we were taught to get the best education to get the best job, that men do this and women do that and even what to wear or not what to wear. These are all things, without any fault of our own, that influenced who we became and how we viewed the world. We chose what was right or wrong based on what we were told was right or wrong. And believe me I think this is super necessary and I actually think it is unavoidable, however it is important to understand that this is where we start.

It comes to a certain point where outside influences, shape you more than your parents and this is where the change started with our generation. However unlike our parents, the playing field which we grew and are growing up in is much more diverse, in race, ethnicities, gender and more. This cooking pot of mixed culture has created change. Growing up in England as first generation, you gain knowledge from your parents, you gain knowledge from your peers, who may also be first generation but from different countries, you gain knowledge from those who don’t look, speak or even think like you. This integration has allowed us to have a much wider perspective on the world.

There is one more important factor that we have been blessed to have at our disposal — the internet. The internet has allowed us to learn and see things we may have never been able to see without it. It has allowed us to connect and communicate with different social groups and communities without ever meeting in person.

They say knowledge is power and with the mass amount of information available on the internet, we are now fueled with enough to create change. We can no longer be told we can’t do this, when we have seen someone else do it. We can no longer be told what or how we should be, when we are seeing people living unapologetically as themselves. This fuel of information makes us question everything we have been taught, as we can usually find an alternative perspective via the internet. With all these differences in influences on our generation it is easy to see why we are the ones creating a change.

Change is defined as “to make or become different” and there is no doubt we are the generation of change. Many of us are taking matters into our own hands and being the change we want to see. We don’t want to survive, we want to live. We are the generation of traditional culture mixed with new thinking, making us a force to be reckoned with. Our parents may never understand the way we think, the way we dress or even the way we speak and that is okay. They taught us to understand discipline, taught us to understand what hard work is but we also understand dreaming big and following our own passions, talent and most importantly way of thinking. I personally feel the impact our generation is having on the world is immense and I can’t wait to see what our children become based on their world.

I know so many of us have untapped potential and are struggling to take that leap of faith into following our passions. But you should all know that we are the best equipped generation and diaspora to make the change in this world we want to see.

We are the generations of change.

Ibrahim Kamara is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, investor and and co-founder of GUAP, which has grown from the world’s first video magazine to becoming a multi platform youth media. He was honoured as a “Digital Pioneer” by The Mayor Of London and also named as 1 of the top 100 most influential BAME leaders in the UK Tech Sector published in the Financial Times.

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