“Meat isn’t supposed to be sweet. It just isn’t. It can to be spicy, but never sweet.”
These are Daniel Akwa’s thoughts on transitioning from Nigeria to the United States. His biggest adjustment: food. With that value on food, Daniel fits in well here in the South.
Daniel Akwa is my newest friend and source of insight into the world of Nigerian culture. Daniel and I met earlier this week so he could tell me all about his move across the pond and his new life in America. Daniel moved to the United States in August to attend, in my opinion, the best university in the world, Auburn. I asked if this decision was hard on him or his family, to which he replied,
“Not really, I was a bad egg anyway.”
Distance makes the heart grow fonder, right Daniel? He reassured me that his family was keeping busy with his two younger brothers in his absence though.
Nigeria is located in West Africa and is the seventh most populous country in the world. Because of tourism and the oil influx, Nigeria has grown to resemble the Western countries in aspects like department stores, restaurants, and supermarkets. Unlike America though, Nigeria operates under a specific class system and any uncommon complexion could draw unwanted attention. Knowing this, Daniel warned me that if visiting Nigeria, I should be very careful walking at night and he suggested never walking by myself.
Festivals, on the other hand, are also a huge part of Nigerian culture. Daniel described them like American carnivals, but with no ferris wheels (bummer) and more food. The festival celebrations observe everything from religious holidays to harvest and rainy seasons. Everyone dresses in traditional Nigerian attire has a big party, with singing and dancing. Another adjustment Daniel described when moving to Alabama was adapting to the American idea of music. He lit up when talking about all the different types of Nigerian music, nothing like Fetty Wap I’m sure.
“In Nigeria, music just makes you want to dance,” he said with a shrug.
When I asked Daniel about Nigerian clothes, he said that the colorful cultural outfits were ONLY for special occasions, not something you break out just to stroll to the market, which I guess I excepted. Otherwise, he said they dress much the same as we do. I had respect for Daniel’s fashion game when he met me for our interview. He wore skinny sweatpants, a hipster jacket and cool Adidas tennis shoes, all of which surprised me. Swagger really is a universal language.
Overall, Nigeria was everything I expected and nothing I expected. Often times, I get caught up in the “traditional” aspects of not only Nigerian culture, like colorful dresses and native dances that I forget that they wear Adidas tennis shoes just like me. It’s cool to think that we aren’t so different, really, but at the same time, we are and that’s what makes us unique.
Daniel helped me put these two worlds, Nigeria and America, into one perspective. Seeing the world from two sides is both surprising and reassuring. When you have some time, I suggest giving it a try.