Former student balances two cultures

heresa Edwards

When Temitope Tinuade Dolapo Abike Adejobi was born, each of her eight aunts and uncles gave her a name.

“Temitope Tinuade Dolapo Abike Adejobi” is all that would fit on her birth certificate, and she doesn’t know the rest of it.

Adejobi, a former Kent State student, is of Nigerian descent; the tradition of having many names is just one difference that separates her from most cultures. Her family is also strict about respecting one another and one’s self, especially when it comes to her elders.

Respect isn’t the only thing her parents are strict about, though. They insist she goes through with traditional formalities of greeting her elders.

When a Nigerian boy greets an elder, he’s required to lay on his stomach. When a Nigerian girl greets an elder, she’s required to kneel on the floor.

This formality confused Adejobi at a young age, but now that she’s older, she said she understands and tries to follow through whenever possible.

However, her parents understand that she lives in a different culture and the formalities may not always be required.

“We would have quarrels about me not going out of my way to greet my elders. I never saw a point in going out of my way to do these things,” Adejobi said.

She added that her parents expected the same of her friends. If they were not shown that respect, then they automatically disliked them, which also made things difficult.

In other instances, the situation may be awkward, she said.

“When I met some of my friends’ grandparents and my parents’ friends’ parents, it would be awkward not knowing what to do because they would expect me to go through with everything and they would be shocked and a little offended sometimes if I didn’t,” Adejobi said.

Growing up in a different culture means the Adejobi family also celebrates holidays differently – the Nigerian independence day, for example, is Oct. 1.

They do not celebrate Veterans Day or Thanksgiving.

Since her family’s culture is so unique, Adejobi’s parents let her celebrate any holiday she wants to, as long as it doesn’t go against her culture.

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are two holidays she cannot celebrate because it goes against her Yoruba beliefs.

Adejobi’s mother Remi Adejobi came to the United States in 1982 so she could attend school with her husband. She said she believes strongly in her heritage, culture and traditions and she expects her children to do the same.

“I believe it’s got to be good for them and I think it’s worked so far,” she said.

However, raising her children in a culture different from theirs has brought about some problems.

Remi said it’s difficult to establish one rule for her children in their house but not be expected to follow that rule when they leave the house.

Contradictions such as these left her children confused.

“I always wanted to know why I had to act a certain way,” Temi said. “I always had to be proper and hold myself highly and I didn’t always like having to do that because there were times I just wanted to be a kid and have fun. Our culture forces you to grow up.”

Now a student at Columbus State Community College, Adejobi has yet to visit her parents’ home country of Nigeria but would like to visit it this summer if possible. A trip would be just the thing to help her fully realize her cultural heritage.

“It can be a bit frustrating sometimes because I was born here in America and not Nigeria, so I don’t fully understand some of the customs that they have. But the older I get, the more I understand.”

Contact features correspondent Theresa Edwards at [email protected].