Image used for illustrative purpose only.
Aisha Rimi, The Independent
Before I’d even started my Masters, the graduation ceremony was on my mind. Starting a degree during the pandemic, there were many uncertainties, and with graduation ceremonies scheduled for the summer of 2020 postponed, I wasn’t sure I’d get to experience my own.
One thing I definitely knew was that, graduation ceremony or not, I would dress in traditional Nigerian attire to celebrate the completion of my degree. And this past Monday, that’s exactly what I wore as I crossed the Barbican Centre stage to collect my degree certificate.
Despite being born and raised in the UK, I’ve always had a deep affinity with my Nigerian heritage and culture. Whether it was my family’s annual summer holiday back home where I’d spend six weeks with all my relatives, or watching Nollywood films growing up, being Nigerian has always been a vital part of who I am.
One way I like to express my pride in my identity is through my choice of clothing. During many momentous occasions in my life I’ve chosen to wear traditional clothing or “trad” as we like to call it. Eid celebrations see my family and I dressed in gowns made from the African wax fabric called ankara, which most Nigerian clothing is made from.
For my sixth form leavers’ ball, I wore a western-style dress made from ankara as a way to stand out in the sea of ASOS and Topshop dresses that many of my peers donned for the occasion. Call me attention-seeking but I wanted something different and memorable, and wearing trad did just that.
For my undergraduate graduation, I told my whole family they had to dress in something made from ankara. So I had my parents and aunts dressed in traditional outfits, while my sisters and I wore ankara dresses, jumpsuits and skirts, all to add a little flavour to the day.
Usually, a relative travelling to the UK will bring our outfits with them, and we’ll silently pray that the tailor back home has followed our measurements and the style we’ve chosen to perfection.
My Masters final project which consisted of a 5,000 word article, involved me interviewing other young Black British Africans who were living across the continent, trying out life in the countries of their forefathers. As a journalist and writer, my identities greatly influence my work and what I choose to write about, so it was only apt that I celebrated the accomplishment of completing my degree the way that I did.
For Nigerians like myself living in the diaspora, wearing trad is just one way we get to connect with our culture and showcase the beauty of our identity. It’s a chance for us to represent our people and feel akin with those back home, despite the very obvious differences in our environments.
My trad dressing is also very specific to the Hausa ethnic group that I belong to in Nigeria, so much so that we were recognised by a hotel employee on my graduation day. She had studied Hausa as part of a module at university in South Korea . She recognised my dad’s outfit known as “babban riga” and began to greet my family and me in Hausa.This distinct recognition is important to me due to the diversity of Nigeria — we are not a homogenous population as some may think. We are a multi-ethnic society made of over 250 ethnic groups, and each has its own cultural dress.
Living in the UK where the intricacies of my Nigerian identity aren’t always recognised means that opportunities to showcase my Hausa-ness are even more significant to me. Without my heritage, I wouldn’t be the person I am today — I wouldn’t have the insight into life that I have. By writing about and wearing symbols of my heritage, I am able to share it with the world.
Lethukuthula Bhengu, whose reading skills have already made her a TikTok star with nearly a million followers, was this year named the youngest African "kidfluencer" at an annual award.
Monthly cryptocurrency transfers to and from Africa of under $10,000 - typically made by individuals and small businesses - jumped more than 55% in a year to reach $316 million in June, the data from U.S. blockchain research firm Chainalysis shows.
In the current times when it’s almost impossible to keep traditions and cultures that we know intact, a group of people belonging to a west African tribe are almost disappearing.
Italy’s decision to slash tax incentives designed to lure talented expatriates back home has left 35-year-old marketing executive Serena Romeo in a bind. Romeo left Italy ten years ago for brighter work prospects abroad – one of around half a million young Italians who have left the country since
In a meandering Valentine’s Day speech in North Charleston, South Carolina, former president Donald Trump did what he does regularly at these types of events. He appealed to the tribal instincts of his supporters. “Every time the radical left, Democrats, Marxists, Communists and Fascists
Two years after Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion, Ukraine continues to defend its territory bravely but has withdrawn its forces from a key city under attack and is short of weapons and ammunition. But because of partisan paralysis in Washington — and the malign influence of Donald
Ten years into Russia’s long war against Ukraine, far too many Americans are falling prey to a destructive idea. They needlessly believe that Ukraine’s defeat is unavoidable. These Americans have lost their bearings. Defeat is never inevitable so long as a nation is willing to fight. George Washington