One of the reasons I felt inclined to start this blog, was to share experiences on Inter-Ethnic relationships and Marriages in Nigeria.
I shared my experience on the Yoruba culture of kneeling to greet elders here, and going forward, every other personal experience will be in the EastmeetWest posts.
For now, as an Inter-Ethnic couple here are some of the questions we get asked the most, and we've answered.
I'll be asking other inter-ethnic couples these questions (and more), and sharing their answers on the blog from time to time.
1. Do You Speak Each Other's Language:
Kachee: I like to say I speak and understand Yoruba, which is a bit of a white lie. I can speak and understand a few words, but that's about it. But then I was so surprised recently when I was singing the months of the year in Yoruba, and he had no clue what it was! I think I scored major brownie points there.
Tee: I speak Igbo a bit. Well, more like I'm trying to learn on the internet. If I had a better teacher than Kachee, I'm sure I'll have been a pro by now.
2. Any Culture Shocks:
Kachee: Hahaha! I guess I must have been vaguely aware of most of the culture shocks because some of my really good friends are Yoruba and hey, I'm a Lagos babe. But awareness does not necessarily translate to accommodating it or doing it with ease. So somethings like kneeling for older people or referring to older people as Mummy or Daddy is not something I am used to. I remember clearly as a child of about 5, the lady in the salon, probably in her early fifties always told me to refer to her as Mummy! That must have been one of the strangest things ever. I'm like 'Huh, you are not my mummy'. Now, I've had to consciously tell myself that it's not much of a big deal.
Tee: Nnewi was interesting!. The way everyone kept saying we were going to the village for a wedding, I thought it was going to be a proper village. On a more serious note though, I really wasn't expecting a lot of difference in culture, because as a Catholic in Nigeria, I grew up with a lot of Igbos around me. I think that sure helped.
3. How Would You Name Your Kids:
Kachee: We'd love our kids to identify actively with both parts of their culture. So they will definitely have names from both cultures.
Tee: I'd like them to have Igbo first names because I think it sounds cool. Yoruba surname and Igbo first name.
4. What Food(s) From Your Spouse's Culture Do You Love/Hate:
Kachee: I am not a fan of Amala and Gbegiri even though I have probably never tasted Gbegiri. But I've actually resolved to try it soon. I LOVE Ofada rice and Ayamase sauce.
Tee: I've never understood the concept of 'Abacha' (African Salad made of cassava flakes), so when I had it recently, I was not surprised that I didn't like it. I also do not like 'Ube' (Igbo native pear). But other than that, I think I eat everything else and I like the richness of Igbo soups.
5. Best Part of an Inter-Ethnic Marriage:
Kachee: Honestly, it's the littlest things that make it so interesting. Like when he asks me to translate Phyno's rap for him. It's also so cool how language/culture could be influential. We almost seem to have the best of both worlds because many people just choose to be nicer and helpful to you because 'Awww you're marrying our Igbo Sister' or 'So your husband is Yoruba'.
Tee: Giving my kids mixed names, and the idea of learning a new language. And of course, being able to take a Chieftaincy title in Nnewi (Kachee's hometown)!
6. Words of Advice:
Kachee: I don't think anyone should have a stereotypical mindset about getting married. Love really does come in the strangest packages. Except there are deal breakers (which of course there could be), simply saying/thinking like 'I can never marry a Yoruba person or an Igbo person', may just be shooting yourself in the foot.
Tee: I think ethnicity is so insignificant compared to the joy of being with someone you really want to be with. For those contemplating getting into it, you need to see the beauty in the other persons culture and not consider such differences dividing lines.
Any thoughts guys? If you have any other questions, we're happy to answer!
What's your favourite food from another culture?
Phyno* - Nigerian musician that usually raps in Igbo language
Ofada rice and Ayamase sauce* - Nigerian type of rice and the sauce is made with green bell peppers. You just have to try it!
Please let me know if you have any stories to share either from being married or from simply dating someone from another culture in Nigeria. It doesn't have to be a happy ending story. We can take the lessons and discuss it nevertheless. If you prefer, we could also share on an anonymous basis. You can contact me here.