It’s the first day of school and although you are not so thrilled to be back in class, it is a big relief from being stuck at home bombarded with household chores ( I know I just got a few Amen’s after reading that lol). You sit down quietly in your chair, and patiently wait for your teacher’s instruction. She has now announced that she will be taking attendance. Your heart drops because you already know she will completely butcher your name. She calls the first few last names, and now you’re sitting on the edge of your chair waiting for your last name to come up. Right before she announces it, she makes a weird face and puts out a clear warning saying, “Alright I may need some help pronouncing this name, but I will give it a try”. You now have two options, call out your name before she messes it up, or let her try to pronounce it on her own. Either way it goes, the struggle of attendance I know haunted many people at a young age including myself.
I know for many years, I dreaded my name being called during attendance, because of the humiliation and attention that it brought towards me. And my last name starts with an “A”, so most times I was the first name called. I always cringed at the fact that my teacher could pronounce “Arnold Schwarzenegger” and not “Anyanwu”. But hey what do I know. At one point I wanted to go by my middle name which is “American”, but my dad refused and now that I look back, I am grateful for that decision he made. Fast forward 15+ years later, now I have some of my friends who want me to give them an “Honorary Nigerian Name” because it is so “cool” and “different”. Imagine the odds of that.
But this is just ONE of the MANY examples many African children had to endure growing up. I can say growing up in an African household, more specifically Nigerian, was not easy but helped mold me to become the young lady I am today. I love the fact that everyone now tries to embrace and emulate our culture. Back then we were just a couple of “Booty Scratchers” who had “Tigers and Lions” as pets. Now we are looked at as Royalty, Trendsetters, Money Moguls, & so much more.
References on popular television shows, such as “Real Housewives of Atlanta”, has everyone now looking for an “African Prince” who will shower them with money and gifts. This goes to show that we work hard, and our efforts definitely show. We are taught from birth that education is key, and no matter what you decide to ultimately do (Although the only occupations that exist are a Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, or Nurse lol ) DO NOT CARRY LAST. Always work hard to be on the top!
I can honestly say I am so proud to be Nigerian. Our culture is so rich, pure, and colorful. What used to be considered “weird” and “odd” are now “exotic” and “unique”. I know I’m not the only person who has heard, “Oh you don’t look African”. Of course, some of us have bolder features than others, but how exactly is an African person supposed to look? Well, I embrace my big lips and eyes to the fullest! Because it seems these days, what we were taunted about.. people are now paying to get surgically done ( Big lips, hips, butt, etc..). I personally was never ashamed to be Nigerian, it just took me a while to really understand the culture. The older we get, the more we embrace our culture and we can finally understand all the metaphors that our parents told us when we were younger. Our music, fashion, and movies are a force to reckon with. Ankara Prints are becoming a huge hit with celebrities, and for people to wear on a normal day to day basis. And of course, nobody can throw an event like we do…NOBODY! We may not start on time lol ( African Time), but we sure know how to have a good time. I say all this to say that we surely have come a long way. I know growing up may not have been easy for some, but I am very appreciative that I come from a culture that carries out tradition and certain core values. I come from a culture where family takes care of each other, no matter the age. I come from a culture where I can meet another African or Nigerian and we instantly connect because of our similar backgrounds. I come from a culture where we make something out of nothing. I come from a culture where our weddings are simply in a lane of its own. I come from a culture where “making it rain” is nothing to us because we are the originators. There is so much I could go on about being African, but I think you get the point.
At the end of the day, no matter where your family lineage traces back to, just embrace your roots. And for me, America is where I reside, but Nigeria is what runs through my veins! Igbo Kwenu!
As Always…Thanks for Reading!