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  • Writer's pictureDedeStewart

Neither Here nor There

Welcome or welcome back to Discussions with Dede! Can I just say my biggest flex is being Nigerian!!!!!!!!!! Naija no dey carry last, ok?! Our culture, our confidence, our music, our clothes, our movies, our FOOD- it’s all too much for one country, but we have it all. I was watching a video about Nigerian history, and I felt so proud to be Nigerian. Being first-generation is definitely a blessing for so many reasons, but it definitely comes with some costs.

I grew up with the Nigerian culture. My parents did a good job introducing us to the amazing aspects of the culture like the music, food, clothes, etc. I remember every Saturday as we were cleaning my father played Yinka Ayefele, Sunny Ade, or Sir Victor Uwaifo. I can sing every song on the CD my dad put together and it made me really appreciate my culture even more. We grew up eating Nigerian food- eba, pounded yam, owo, jollof rice, fried rice, egusi soup or okra soup… alla dat. Just because you guys are probably dying to know, my favorite Nigerian meal is dodo and beans or rice and stew. The way I love dodo, it’s actually not normal at this point. I can’t live without plantain abeg, it’s sweet die. I can live without eba and pounded yam, but if I had to choose I’m picking pounded yam with okra any day. I don’t like eba at all; the texture just turns me off. It’s just too grainy- no. Nigerian food is bomb, and that’s why that little TikTok trend from earlier this year pissed me off. For those of you that did not see it, it was basically people trying traditional Nigerian food, specifically fufu and egusi soup. I just did not understand why people could not just try it off-camera and if they did not like it, just leave it at that. Think about it, you picked up your phone and recorded yourself puking up food? Like are you mad? Some people are just dying for clout, it's sickening. Just say you’re bored and go. I don’t even care because they wasted their money to be spitting it out anyway. Olodo.

Another flex of being Nigerian is our music. Nigerian music is such a vibe! I’m so glad that Afrobeats is ruling the world right now because it’s about time. I remember watching the 2019 BET Awards, and I was so happy for Burna Boy winning best International Act. It was the first time I’ve seen an African win an award on stage, and I was so surprised, even though he wasn’t there to accept. I always hate how they had many of the International Acts receive their award in the pre-show without their names or the award even being acknowledged. I always thought it was not fair; they deserve to accept it onstage like the Americans did. Afrobeat has always been lit but I’m glad the rest of the world has realized. Who dey breeeeettttt?

And we can’t speak about Nigerian music without talking about one of my favorite artists, Davido. I seriously believe everything he does is a PR stunt, and even so, it works for him. I’ve been rocking with Davido since his Gobe days; when he actually used to dance in his videos. I was actually watching that video the other day, and he used to dance so much omg. He was so smiley and cute and now, unfortunately, all his videos all look the same. But this man still has some gems. Aye is definitely my favorite video of his because it’s so simple and cultural. He has consistently been making hits for years, and it’s honestly so impressive. Man, I have so many other favorite Nigerian artists, but we’ll be here for days if I talk about them all lol.

One thing I can say about us is that our style and our confidence is unmatched; we don’t care what anybody thinks of us! Does Google recognize you? Rubbish. I especially love our traditional attire because it differs by tribe and location. I’m obsessed with Nigerian weddings, especially my tribe’s traditional wedding attire. Edo traditional weddings are top-notch because we have our beautiful beads and our okuku is stunning. I really don’t care who I marry, we are having at least 3 weddings- traditional, white, and another traditional in Nigeria. Listen, by that time I will be extremely rich so we can afford the 3 weddings, IJN. Everybody must be happy at my wedding, no squeezing face allowed. If I catch you, you’re out and you don’t get food lol. I will not allow it, no way. I hate when people are mad or stressed on their wedding day because it’s supposed to be such a happy day. You have the rest of your marriage to be unhappy and stressed. I’m just joking… kinda. Also, I don’t want to look back at my wedding video and see anyone unhappy because that’s annoying. I have so many other rules about my wedding, but if I start I will not finish.

As you can see, being Nigerian-American has its perks, but it also comes with its costs of not truly belonging to either group. It feels like I’m an imposter to both cultures sometimes. Growing up, I was too African for the other kids. My name stuck out, especially during attendance, and I was different than everyone else. I remember the time I knew I was really different was around 6th grade. I had many Nigerian substitutes, and I don’t know about y’all but I used to be so embarrassed when we had a Nigerian substitutes. Wait, let me not say that. I was happy because the sub would yell at the bad kids who were being rude. However, it was embarrassing because it felt like one of my family members was in my class. Let me remind you, this is not self-hate. I was not embarrassed of being Nigerian, I just did not like to be different from others. I remember they would always ask me for help with attendance when they found out I was Nigerian. This one time, I spent the whole class just gisting with the sub in the back instead of doing my work lol. Whenever the kids were making fun of the sub’s accent, I literally felt like they were making fun of me. In a way they were, and it felt like I had to choose between my two identities.

On the other hand, I never really felt extremely Nigerian because I did not know my native language. I still do not really know it, and I hate that. I hate that because knowing your native tongue really connects you to your culture. I often feel disconnected from my culture because I am not fluent in my native language. I hear other kids speaking to their parents in their native language and it makes me sad that I can't. Of course I’m learning now, but it’s so hard. I really wish my parents taught me, but I can’t go back in time and change that. People say not knowing your language doesn’t make you less “Nigerian”, but honestly, I feel like for me it does. That’s why I’m extremely determined to learn Edo because I want to preserve my culture. It also makes me sad that the language could potentially die because it is not being passed down to the next generation and so people are not using it as much. How am I going to pass on the language to my kids if I don’t know it?

It’s also scary that my kids are going to be second- generation. I feel like I am pretty Americanized as is. I just know what my parents taught me, so I wonder if that will be enough? That’s going to be so weird, but I still have manyyyyyy years before I even think about having children.

I think all I can do is continue to learn Edo and my history. I’m so intrigued by Edo history and culture because it’s so rich and beautiful. There’s a reason we are called the heartbeat of Nigeria chai! Oviedo kpataki!! Bini babe till I die idccccc!

Ok, that’s enough for me! Remember, where you are from is so important because it makes you who you are! It’s a huge part of your story and you should be proud to be from there. At least I am. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. See you next time:)

Question for the comments: what’s your favorite part about being first- generation and what's your least favorite part?

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May 31, 2021

Girl, for me I just feel very Americanized. My mom never really "taught us" anything about Barbados. We do not have a language, we speak English but we have a dialect and slang words. My mom in general does not talk with a heavy accent unless she is on the phone with her Bajan friends, then the accent is on and LOUD. As a kid, when we would visit Barbados, there were many times I could not understand my relatives because of their accent and my mom would have to repeat what they are saying to me. As of recent years I can understand my relatives better, which makes me happy, but I can't even imitate a Bajan accent if…

Jun 02, 2021
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I know exactly how you feel, theyre always like "why don't you know the language?" Um, maybe because you never taught me! But yes, heavy on the history part, that is definitely something that is important to me because I might not know the language fluently, but I know the history somewhat and thats just as important. Thank you for the reply girl. It also ok to be "americanized" because no one can take your ethnicity away from you!!1 you are Bajan fa lyfeeee

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