Ridhwanlai Badmos,a Nigerian in Canada,felt disconnected from his Nigerian Culture after his family moved to Winnipeg.
However, cultural month in his school helped him realized there was more to home than a physical location. Hear his interesting story as reported by Ridhwanlai Badmos.
That same year, a friend showed me a TikTok of students at another school celebrating their cultures and wearing their traditional clothing. She said, “We should have that,” and I thought it was a great idea. She brought the idea to our council, and after a few discussions, we decided to make the idea even bigger and better by hosting our school’s first ever cultural month that May.
Badmos three-year-old birthday
Throughout the month, we served different cultural foods in the canteen every Wednesday. We had South Asian samosas, Filipino pancit and Nigerian puff puff. Some teachers were so impressed that they started having their own potlucks in their classrooms.
We interviewed fellow students about what cultural diversity meant to them and projected these videos throughout our school.
Badmos(in Buba) 1st from Left
We also had classroom discussions where students talked about cultural stereotypes and could ask questions about anything they’d been curious about without the fear of being cancelled. For example, one student asked me if I was from a tribe and if it was OK to use that word or if it meant something like a savage.
I happily explained that it was fine to use that word in the proper context. For example, Nigeria has four main tribes, and I am from the Yoruba tribe.
Cultural Day Badmos (2nd from Left)
At one of the events, my friends Shafia and Ushna explained why they wear hijabs and their experiences with racial profiling in Canada. Even though I’m a Muslim man with family members who wear hijabs, I hadn’t thought too deeply about how their experiences might be different from mine. It gave me a newfound respect for the women in my life.
Badmos with friends in the library
It taught me to sometimes take a pause in my everyday life and to be inquisitive and curious about others and their stories. I shouldn’t feel shy to seek knowledge.
I believe these conversations made a real difference for our school in talking about race, identity and religion. I often heard students talking about their cultural identity in the halls on my way to class and sharing jokes with each other regarding similarities between their own communities.
On the final day of our cultural month, we asked all students to come to school in their traditional clothes. Leading up to it, several students asked me, “What should I wear?”
I told them to wear what they felt represented them.
“But what if I don’t have anything to wear?”
I told them to bring something that they felt spoke to their cultural identity. Something that felt like them. Perhaps it was a flag, something from back home, or even a favourite stuffed animal; culture means so much more than just where we’re from.
I had never been one to care about my appearance, but on that special day, I spent over an hour making sure my hair was combed, my tiny mustache hairs shaved, and that my buba and sokoto were ironed.
Buba and sokoto are the names for the shirt and trousers typically worn with the agbada, a traditional four-piece Nigerian attire consisting of a flowing robe, undervest, trousers and a hat.