This month I have undertaken something most amazing! I’m pleased to let the world know here on my personal blog that – after about 16 years of living here in the UK – I am becoming a British citizen! This journey is one of length, commitment and marks a big milestone in my lifetime. I’m embracing the society here in the United Kingdom in full – from cultural enjoyments like Sunday Roasts, Christmas crackers and endless cups to tea, to the key important values and principles of this country, including laws and democracy itself.
For years now, I’ve been devoted to my community in London’s borough of Hackney – whether it has been defending a local historic pub, co-founding and involving the community in the arts with my e9makers arts collective, volunteering for the PTA and for Pride in London, or building my incredible relationships with the people of my neighbourhood – I’m here! I’ve been here for years, and it has been so important to me, and my young son, that I can fully be a citizen. Yes, I will soon be able to vote – and, even, run for office if I were to choose such an honourable path!
What does citizenship mean to me? It means belonging. Belonging to the country that I’ve made my home of for more than a decade now. Belonging fully in being able to vote in local, national and key issue elections. Belonging as a true insider now and stepping away from my always looking into the United Kingdom as an outsider mode, to begin looking out from the United Kingdom as a bonified citizen. I’m not clear of everything that this new development in my life will bring – but I’m enthused for the journey ahead.
A little Storytime background: Way back in 1830 two of my ancestors – Rosevear brothers – left Cornwall and sailed to the United States of America. There, they settled in New Jersey and our family established as Americans. Well now, with my British citizenship, I am essentially bringing my family line full-circle – we have returned!
This moment of me becoming British took place Wednesday, 16 October 2019 – at Hackney Town Hall. There, I participated in a citizenship ceremony, along with people from around the world. The event included – emotionally – a culmination to a long process of all of our applications, and final approval from the Home Office, to naturalize. I swore an Oath to Her Majesty Queeen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors and gave my loyalty to the United Kingdom. This included singing the British National Anthem:
God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Lond to reign over us;
God save the Queen!
I want to greatly thank those officiating this ceremony, who delivered an enjoyable and memorable moment for me, including:
Doreen McKenzie (Conducting Officer)
Catherine Sutton (Conducting Officer)
Deputy Lieutenant for London Borough of Hackney, Lt Col Roderick Morriss – known as Colonel Morriss (The gentleman I am pictured with here in the uniform)
Mario Yanez (Photographer) instantimaging.net
Renae Parkes (Registration and Citizenship Team Manager)
All made this event seamless and remarkable for me. I am forever honoured to be, now, a citizen of the United Kingdom. Also, I give a big love shout-out to my dear friends Fi Rashid (photographer Fi R Backhouse) and Joan Smith (aka DJ Tunesmith) — who have supported me throughout this process, and joined me for the citizenship ceremony at Hackney Town Hall. I also greatly want to thank immigration attorney Diane Gelon for guiding me through the entire process. Thank you!
For those wondering – I am a dual national now and maintain my heritage nationality and citizenship with the United States as well. All photo credit here goes to Mario Yanez.