Free Oribhabor

Nigeria


When did your family immigrate to the US and where exactly did they move? What made them come?

My mom and dad moved from Nigeria to the US in 1980, they moved to Texas. They came here to start a family, they wanted to make sure that their future children would have better opportunities than they did.

What is the first language you learned? Do you speak any other languages?

Only English, I know a few words of out native language but that's about it.  

What language do you primarily speak when with your family?

English

Have you ever visited or been back to your family's native country? If so, how often do you visit and for how long? What is that experience like? Do you have relatives there?

I have not yet, but were planning a family trip there. We still have pretty much 50-75% of our relatives there.

Describe your experience growing up in America as someone who is so closely tied to another culture. How did you feel? What things were easy? What did you find difficult?

It was rough honestly, childhood was not easy. Having a weird name made for a lot of constant jokes and sometimes even bullying. Having parents who were very bold, loud and unapologetic about their culture and who they were made me feel ashamed sometimes, because back then I just wanted to be a regular american kid like all of my friends. The accents, the clothes we would all have to wear and the looks we'd sometimes get in public just made me want to hide, I couldn't comprehend as a child why people always poked fun at my identity, it created a very strange upbringing. However, that strange upbringing when really shaped me. Being the weird, different kid and being an outcast was priming me for an amazing adulthood. Once I really began to take pride in my culture and embraced being different everything so got much better. I realized I was actually a bit privileged in knowing my culture background.

What type of food do you eat at home? What are some of your favorite dishes?

Usually Nigerian food, fufu, jelof rice, fried rice, plaintains, goat meat, etc. Sometimes I opt for american food when home but I always tried to indulge in the cultural dishes at least a bit, just to make sure my palette doesn't stray too far from home.

Describe your experience making friends as a kid growing up in the UNITED STATES.

Making friends was never hard for me, it was just hard to get my friends to understand me, because I was still trying to understand who I was.

Do you consider yourself as more of an American or that of your parents' native country?

I consider myself a black man of Nigerian descent, I'm an american citizen but I don't necessarily identify as an "American" anymore.

 

Are you proud to be American? 

Honestly, I'm not, I love the freedoms and things we have in this country, but lately, with all the things going on, from issues of police brutality, institutional racism, gun control, to the government, and the fact that we have a orange man baby as a president, just doesn't sit well with me. Me saying that I'm not proud of this country is me holding this nation accountable to be the country it's supposed to be on paper, I don't hate where I live, but I want so much more for this nation and I cannot consider myself a proud American until we truly reach that potential.

Do you plan to pass along aspects of your parents native culture to your children (if you choose to have them)? What parts of the culture do you want to keep if any? If yes, how important is that to you, and how do you plan on doing so?

I absolutely will, I think the overall pride in being different, and knowing that you are inherently different and embracing that is what I will pass on to my children.  

Are there aspects of your culture that you don't enjoy, parts that you know you don't want to pass on?

Pride, stubbornness, misogyny, african conservatism, double weddings lol

What's one thing you wish people knew about your culture? 

The beauty of it, the community, the clothes, the food, I would love to bring all my friends to one Nigerian community party so they could see all the love and joy that fills these rooms. Nigerian people, while flawed, are some of the most amazing people in the world, I'm more and more proud of my culture than ever before.

Are there any specific thoughts / inspiration behind the way you took your photos and what you took photos of? Feel free to use this space to express your photographic inspiration for this project. 

Nothing besides wanting to showcase my family in their element, that was truly the only thoughts behind these photos. I just wanted to capture the time i had with them, the beauty of the nothingness, just being the moment with the people that I love.