What Identity?

In December 2008 I closed the book on my Rhodes experience… FINALLY flown away from my little foster home, my little cocoon – an anthropologist’s dream – a microcosm of predominantly middle-class B-grade students with social lives constructed mainly around a couple of pubs, sportsbars and nothing much else. The one thing I know I’ve definitely taken with me (except the somewhat beautiful parchments with my embossed name and my alleged academic “qualifications”) is an inflated, albeit artificial sense of self-worth and no idea where I really want to be (or maybe even “do” in the short-run at least).

I’ve met wonderful people while at Rhodes – mixed in with all the rotten apples and faux smiles of the others… The wonderful people I’ve met are those I’ll undoubtedly never forget, even if I wanted to! Most of whom have contributed to my sense of self-worth.. The “diversity” at Rhodes is just as artificial. While I cannot deny that there are certain “oil and water” elements amongst the jacaranda tree and tequila stained avenues of my former campus, the majority of us gravitated towards clones of ourselves or at least people we hoped to clone. In a language many of my fellow Rhodents may understand: You either went to Friar’s or you didn’t (read Equilibrium). Those of us who occasionally crossed the divide were branded anomalies and more often than not “judged” by our mates from the different camps… But what a wealth of knowledge I acquired while walking on that fence!

Over the past 5years (yes, I’m THAT old!) I have learnt more about people than I ever thought possible. I have shed “friends” like the seasonal skin of a snake and have at the same time managed to separate the wheat from the chaff. I can safely say that those people I call my friends today are indeed my friends and are people I will reminisce with about things other than the jacarandas and the tequila.. People I will cherish always and without whom my years at Rhodes would have been empty.

I have grown as a person… from my early Rhodes days when I wasn’t quite sure in which group I fell and when in a desperate attempt to “fit the mould” I sold myself terribly short.. Over the years I have come to terms with who I am and have discovered that there is no mould into which I must force myself. That I am unique and that the things that set me apart are the things that define me… some characteristics might be endearing to some, while grating to others… but it’s who I am. I might have to thank Rhodes for that.. a seed sown has been nurtured and watered and has blossomed into the person I am today….

That said: When next I am in Grahamstown… you know where to find me!

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