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Embracing Indigenous Identity: A Journey through History, Colonization, and Resilience


"originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native."

"(of people) inhabiting or existing in a land from the earliest times or from before the arrival of colonists." (Definitions from Oxford Languages)

Let me reintroduce myself, my name is Lethicia Foadjo, indigenous from West Africa, one of the oldest indigenous lands in the world. Born and raised in Cameroon due to colonization by the Europeans, unsure of where my true ancestors came from. A genetic test (by CRI Genetics) helped me understand my roots by revealing that I am 45% Yoruba and 12% Esan, both Nigerian Tribes, 20% Luhya, descendants of the Bantu Tribe in Kenya, 10% Mende, tribe in Sierra Leone where women are known to hold remarkable power and the remaining 13% sprinkled across African-Caribbean continents.  

Indigenous peoples are the original inhabitants of the land they occupy. They possess unique cultures, languages, and traditions that have evolved over thousands of years. However, the definition of being indigenous goes beyond mere inhabitants; it encompasses a deep spiritual connection to the land, a sense of community, and a shared history of resilience in the face of colonization and oppression. Indigenous peoples are defined by their deep-rooted ties to a particular region, often characterized by distinct languages, customs, and spiritual beliefs. They are the original inhabitants, guardians of traditional knowledge, and stewards of the environment. In Africa, where humanity's journey began, the concept of indigeneity takes on profound significance.

African Indigeneity 

Let us turn our gaze to the lands of West Africa, where ancient tribes like the Yoruba, Fulani, and Igbo have thrived for millennia. These communities exemplify the rich tapestry of African indigeneity, yet their histories are marred by the shadows of colonization and racism.

The Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin offer a poignant example of resilience in the face of colonialism. Despite enduring centuries of oppression under various empires and later European colonization, the Yoruba have preserved their language, religion, and cultural practices. The Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, one of the largest and most powerful in pre-colonial Africa, stands as a testament to their historical significance.

In the heart of Igbo land, in present-day Nigeria, lies the legacy of a people whose ingenuity and resilience have left an indelible mark on history. The Igbo's egalitarian society, rich oral tradition, and vibrant cultural festivals speak to a deep connection to the land and a profound sense of community. However, the scars of colonization and the legacy of racism linger, shaping the socio-economic landscape of Igbo communities to this day.

Similarly, the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania have faced challenges to their way of life due to colonialism and modernization. The British colonial government displaced many Maasai from their traditional lands to make way for European settlers and wildlife reserves. Today, the Maasai continue to fight for land rights and cultural preservation in the face of increasing pressure from tourism and agricultural expansion.

The San People of Southern Africa, often referred to as Bushmen, are one of the oldest indigenous groups in the world. They have faced centuries of discrimination and marginalization, with their traditional lands being encroached upon by settlers and governments. Despite this, the San have persevered, maintaining their unique languages, hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and spiritual beliefs.

Resilience and Cultural Revival

Despite the challenges they have faced, indigenous peoples around the world continue to resist colonization and strive for self-determination and cultural revival. From grassroots activism to legal battles for land rights and recognition, indigenous communities are reclaiming their identities and asserting their rights to land, language, and self-governance.

In Africa, organizations like Survival International and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) are working to support indigenous communities and advocate for their rights on the international stage. Through initiatives such as cultural preservation programs, land rights campaigns, and sustainable development projects, indigenous peoples are reclaiming their voices and asserting their presence in a rapidly changing world.

Colonization not only disrupted the lives of indigenous peoples but also imposed foreign systems of governance and value systems that often clashed with traditional ways of life. The legacy of colonialism continues to manifest in the form of economic disparities, social inequalities, and cultural erosion within indigenous communities across Africa.

Being indigenous is not just a matter of ancestry or heritage; it is a way of life deeply intertwined with the land, culture, and community. Despite centuries of colonization, exploitation, and oppression, indigenous peoples around the world continue to resist and persevere, maintaining their unique identities and fighting for their rights. As we reflect on the history of indigenous peoples and the challenges they have faced, it is essential to recognize their resilience, strength, and enduring contributions to the diversity of human culture and heritage.

If you don’t know where to start to uncover more about your own heritage, especially if you’ve been a victim of slavery and displacement throughout centuries, a genetic test can be a great place to start. If you are not indigenous, and part of the community that has benefited from colonizing other nations, there are many things you can do to support African indigenous causes around the world;

  • Educate Yourself: Learn about the history, culture, and challenges faced by African indigenous communities. Understanding their struggles is crucial for effective support.

  • Amplify Voices: Share stories and amplify the voices of African indigenous peoples. Use social media platforms or other channels to raise awareness about their issues and achievements.

  • Support Indigenous-Owned Businesses: Whenever possible, buy products from indigenous-owned businesses. This can help support their economic empowerment and cultural preservation efforts.

  • Donate to Indigenous Organizations: Many organizations focus on supporting African indigenous communities. Consider donating funds or volunteering your time to these organizations. (

  • Advocate for Indigenous Rights: Advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples at local, national, and international levels. Support policies and initiatives that protect their land rights, cultural heritage, and self-determination.

  • Respect Traditional Knowledge: Recognize and respect the traditional knowledge and practices of African indigenous communities. This includes respecting their land, resources, and spiritual beliefs.

  • Participate in Cultural Exchanges: Engage in cultural exchanges with African indigenous communities. This could involve participating in cultural events, workshops, or festivals to learn more about their traditions and customs.

  • Support Land Rights: Advocate for the recognition and protection of land rights for African indigenous peoples. Land is often central to their identity, livelihoods, and cultural practices.

  • Promote Sustainable Development: Support initiatives that promote sustainable development in indigenous communities, such as eco-tourism projects or sustainable agriculture practices.

  • Raise Awareness: Organize events, workshops, or campaigns to raise awareness about the issues facing African indigenous peoples in your community or workplace.

  • Learn Indigenous Languages: If possible, learn indigenous languages spoken by African indigenous communities. This can help preserve linguistic diversity and foster cultural exchange.

  • Engage in Solidarity Movements: Participate in solidarity movements that aim to support indigenous rights and promote social justice globally.

  • Support Indigenous Arts and Crafts: Purchase artwork, crafts, and other cultural products made by African indigenous artisans. This supports their livelihoods and helps preserve traditional craftsmanship.

  • Respect Cultural Protocols: When engaging with indigenous communities, respect their cultural protocols and seek permission before sharing or using their knowledge or resources.

  • Stay Informed and Engaged: Stay informed about current issues and developments affecting African indigenous communities and continue to advocate for their rights and well-being.


As for my clinical practice, we will continue to focus our work around supporting Afro-Indigenous people around the globe. Continue to support black and indigenous people of Canada in their process of reclaiming pieces of who they are and reviving this beautiful culture through a lens of resilience. We will continue to support the healing of intergenerational trauma for individuals and families through counselling and psychotherapy, training & development in the community and creating safe space for all! Reach out, I want to hear your beautiful, rich and full stories.

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