Our world is not as we once knew. Some struggle to hold on to their cultures and their values in the midst of an evolving world, while others embrace the changes in merging cultures and values. As a result I sometimes face a dilemma; asking myself, who am I? What place do I hold in society? How do I stand out as an individual in a chameleonic culture? What is my purpose?
I am a young Ivorian born in the metropolitan city of Abidjan. A city with many cultural and spiritual diversities that yet still stand as one ethnicity; being Ivorian. Growing up, my cultural identity was influenced by various television programs; European, American, Asian, and the great emergence of the internet. As a result of great technologies, I now speak both English and French, even better than my native tongue. So I ask myself, have I lost my cultural identity? Or is this my new identity for the sake the merging of cultures. In the mundane I work in finance, and my love for the arts lead me to photography, designing, and art directing. I am constantly pulled in between these two opposite worlds often feeling as though society forces me to choose between them; As if they cannot coexist as reflections of what makes me who I am; As if one can only exist with just one label. So now, I look at myself in the mirror, and really ask myself, what’s it worth when I’m faced with my unquestionable end?
For as long as I can remember I’ve had reoccurring thoughts, questions, about death. Meditating not on its many mysteries, because I am convinced that there is life after death; some justifying it with the idea of reincarnation, others with the existence of a heaven and hell. Whatever the belief, the commonality is that the life we live now, will determine the life we’ll have after death.
This series titled “Miria, iyé i yèrè gniniga” which means in the West African Malinké dialect, “think, and ask yourself about yourself”, is the illustration of my questioning of my social and cultural identity, which brings me back in introspection on the meaning of my current life, while facing the reality that an unquestionable death is to come. So I ask myself, will the self-questioning lead to living an honorable life or do we strive to live an honorable life without questioning?
“Miria, iyé i yèrè gniniga”is the journey of embracing the realities of life and death.