Hello, my name is Diana Omoghe Dirisu and I am from Nigeria, one of the countries in the Western region of Africa. I have a rich heritage and culture which defines my identity but this also reminds me that I am my own individual and should not be sub-classed or side-lined. One of my facial features (aside from my left dimple) is of what we call “tribal marks” in Nigeria. This is when a child’s face or arm is marked with small incisions. I gathered from my parents/grandparents that this practice of tribal marks originated during the slave trade era as it allowed families and relatives to recognise their children, kith and kin. These facial features have always been a conversation starter with people from other ethnic backgrounds and it gives me such pride educating others about my culture and heritage.

My heritage and cultural background is significant to me as this has always had an influence in my strength to face various life challenges and I also believe that this has also given me some form of resilience to cope with difficult challenges as well. I significantly recall a particular experience I had as a student nurse with Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu (DBE, FRCN). As I watched her talk about “her heritage/story” with such pride, it ignited something in me. How did she do it? I asked myself quietly, how did she overcome the cultural barriers in her time?

My questions were answered when I eventually had the golden opportunity to have an “in conversation with” her. I had my 1-1 moment to ask questions. I still remember Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu’s words following my disclosure about a professional questioning my ability to qualify or practice as a nurse. She said “You are born with this deep resilience that allows you to keep going and you must never give up on your dreams on trying to make a difference; keep that dream alive and your race should not stop that.”

“This is me” Diana Omoghe Dirisu and my skin is not only dark, it tells my culture, heritage, identity and story.

Diana Omoghe Dirisu Community Learning Disability Nurse, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Advocate on sexual health awareness for people with learning disabilities, CLDT Memory Team (Dementia assessor) and passionate in promoting Equality and Diversity.

Quote: Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu (DBE, FRCN) Nurse, lecturer, administrator Notable work: Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union (2016) Pride of Britain Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, 2019