Ikhide Ikheloa: Notes From My Middle Passage

Nothing could prepare me for America, writes Ikhide Ikheloa

An artistic depiction of captured Africans contained on a ship as cargo

An artistic depiction of captured Africans contained on a ship as cargo

The Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said that she did not realize she was black until she came to America. That is a pretty dramatic way of telling the truth. When I came to Oxford, Mississippi from Nigeria in the early 80’s to attend the University of Mississippi (OLEMISS), I knew I was black—but my notion of blackness was very different from what it meant to be black in America, certainly in OLEMISS. Come to think of it, I had no idea what I was doing when I accepted a place at OLEMISS in 1982. I came to a place that seemed hostile to black folks, and by the time I realized what I had done, I was too broke to leave the place. I was miserable.

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