Much of Binti is about the push and pull of family and culture, and what it is and what it means to travel beyond one’s roots and grow while bringing along your roots. Too often, as an American, I see this sentiment that in order to evolve, one must leave family behind, one must leave one’s foundation behind, break bonds, forget the past. I say, “What if you bring family with? Aren’t you more that way?” Yes, it’s a harder road to walk, because you have to travel while carrying the loads of home and the past, and it requires a lot of negotiating and understanding and submitting.
This is the cultural conversation in Binti. She’s constantly asking herself, “Who am I? What am I?”, but always while maintaining that she is Himba. And the Himba people are constantly grappling with this issue, too. Can one move into “modernity” with her culture? What does “modernity” mean? Most of the time it just means assimilating to Western cultures and ideals so you can enjoy technology. What is lost? Who is in control of the direction of “modernity”? Must it always be this way? If not, how? This is an issue I know Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora will have to face in the future, if not already.
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