WHEN I LOOK online, I do not find my great-uncle Michael Kanerusine’s name on any of the websites my research brings up – not even those that claim ‘97 per cent accuracy’. I know he fought in the Second World War. That’s one fact. It could be a matter of confusion over his surname, I tell myself. As a people, we identify primarily by clan, totem and then father’s name. Perhaps the surname that has eventually become the ‘official’ family name isn’t the one he enlisted under. It’s an imprecise thing, this English naming of Africans – seeking to determine equivalences in kinship patterns, to define what constitutes ‘family’ and inheritance. It can never really survive the translation from one culture to the other.
I am keen to find some verification of my great-uncle’s war record because my memories of his presence remain vivid from childhood and I realise, now that I want... Read more
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