MARIAM OLUJIDE

June 16, 2018

 

 

Growing up an African in the United States has not always been easy. As a young child I felt pressure to conform and assimilate in school; I wanted to fit in with my friends rather than stick out like a sore thumb. However, when I was at home I was expected to embrace my Nigerian culture. A culture that was completely different from what my peers accepted as “normal”. In my home it was not “normal” to accept things with your left hand from anyone older than you. But on the other hand, it was not necessarily “normal” to eat pounded yam and egusi for dinner instead of meatloaf and mash potatoes.

In fifth grade, my teacher allotted time for Show and Tell. My friends brought in their pet rabbits, favorite books, coin collections, etc. I also wanted to show the class something that was special to me, but could not decide on what to bring. I made a decision on what to showcase when one day my neighbors saw my mom dressed in her iro, buba, and gele and complimented her on her beautiful ensemble. I realized what I wanted to show to my class! I was going show them how to tie a gele. I asked my mom to teach me and I practiced every day after school until I got it right. Once I was ready, I signed up for Show and Tell.

That morning, my teacher called my name and I stood up and proudly walked to the front of the class with my purple gele in hand. I was ready to show off. I meticulously wrapped each crease and fold around my head as practiced. That was the first day I actively took a step to showcase my culture. That moment marked when I decided to become unapologetically Nigerian. Since then, aye mi dun bi oyin (my life has been as sweet as honey).

 

 

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