In 1956, Sudan gained Independence from Britain. On the brink of a promising future, it instead descended into civil war and conflict, including the crisis in Darfur that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and driven many more from their homes. When the 1989 coup brought a hard-line Islamist regime to power, Jamal Mahjoub's family were among those who fled. Almost twenty years later, he returned to a country on the brink of rupture.
From her early childhood in Nigeria through her adolescence in Oklahoma, Bassey Ikpi lived with a tumult of emotions, cycling between extreme euphoria and deep depression—sometimes within the course of a single day. By the time she was in her early twenties, Bassey was a spoken word artist and traveling with HBO's Def Poetry Jam, channeling her life into art. But beneath the façade of the confident performer, Bassey's mental health was in a precipitous decline, culminating in a breakdown that resulted in hospitalization and a diagnosis of Bipolar II.
We often think identity is personal. But the identities that shape the world, our struggles, and our hopes, are social ones, shared with countless others. Our sense of self is shaped by our family, but also by affiliations that spread out from there, like our nationality, culture, class, race and religion.