Irish | Malaysian

Safiyya Lea.jpg

I grew up in Birmingham within the Pakistani community so I kind of see myself as Pakistani because that was my immediate environment. My mum is Asian, my dad Irish, and he was the only white person on the street, and my mum was the only Malaysian on the street, so I guess I was really isolated. But at the same time because I came from a different mix of backgrounds and like the place I live, I just integrate myself with any culture. The Pakistani community was always very welcoming. I would go to their homes. 

Things changed when I became a teenager as cultural things were different because some of my friends were very open, liberal and the Pakistani community were quite closed in terms of you cant really go out, cant go to parties etc…

My parents are both Muslim - my dad opened a Sufi Centre in Birmingham, so again a lot of Moroccan cultural influence.  I see myself as British. I did not go to Malaysia until I was 10 years old, which is why I don’t have a close relationship with the family in Malaysia.

I don’t speak the language, because my mum felt that she was leaving my dad out and did not speak to us in Malaysian. However when we got older she regretted this. I have loads of stories to tell about my mixture heritage, but I just feel no one wants to hear them….