Managing Multiplicity: Adult Children of Post-Independence Nigerians and Belonging in Britain

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Managing Multiplicity: Adult Children of Post-Independence Nigerians and Belonging in Britain


  • Julie Botticello School of Health, Sport and Bioscience, University of East London, UK


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Abstract:  Migration remains a contentious and divisive topic, particularly with the rise of xenophobia and far right ideologies, which seek to demonize migrants as neither belonging nor welcome in the host society. This reduction leaves the realities of postcolonial migrants as misunderstood and misrepresented. Particularly misunderstood are the children of post-colonial migrants, who were born and raised in the UK by families seeking to better themselves in the ‘Mother land,’ while also aiming to maintain connectivity to traditions and practices from homelands. For some children born in the UK to Nigerian émigrés, family crises precipitated the need for alternative care arrangements, entailing recourse to fostering, boarding schools, or institutional care for periods of time during childhood. Conflicts between British society’s and parents’ cultural values, overt racism and hostility from host society, and differential experiences of extra-family care have impressed upon these children, now adults, both their multiple exclusions and potential belongings. As a result of their traumatic experiences, these adults, now in their 50s and 60s, embody multiculturalism in their abilities to embrace, navigate, and endure in a host country that expresses unwillingness at best and outright hostility at worst toward their presence as UK nationals and progeny of the project of Empire. While continuing to be framed by harsh micro- and macro-conditions, these adult children reveal that belonging can be self-determined through choices on how and with whom they choose to live and grow.

Keywords:  belonging; children; decolonization; family; fostering; migration; Nigerians; post-colonialism; racism

Published:   25 March 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v8i1.2473


© Julie Botticello. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.