I guess today is the day I can stop complaining to my husband that we have so little contact with the local culture. The school annually marks Nigeria’s independence day with a culture day. For the entire day classes are suspended, so the school community can enjoy the exhibits and performances not only by students but also by local artists, performers, and vendors.
We joined other teachers in scrambling to buy fabrics and getting tailors to suit us up. As it turns out, this is the one day when the school is transformed from the red, white, blue, and khaki colors of the uniform to a dazzling variety of prints and patterns. Families wore matching outfits, but the women with the most elaborate headdresses were the real head turners.
I particularly enjoyed the bazaar, naturally. The organizers had the foresight to set a price limit on vendors, so the students will be able to afford the items sold. Vendors who sold beads, earrings, bangles; music instruments; carved canes; kalabash art and baskets probably made a killing in spite of the price ceiling. They quickly ran out of drums and basket bags from Ghana.
The food was also great. I know I wanted to go back for more joloff rice and suya (barbecued beef). And there was enough to feed the students, parents, staff as well as the participating artists who shared with students their skills on henna painting, hair tying, storytelling, and beading.
This year’s celebration focused on the state of Edo, and we had representatives from the capital of Benin joining in the festivities. The students performed a royal dance and a fashion show. This video clip features a dance troupe doing the “real thing.”