Is there a story behind you being named Yewande?
Yewande means the mother has come. When my great grandmother passed away, I was born so they chose Yewande to remember her legacy.
Where are you and your family originally from?
My family is from Nigeria specifically with my father's side being from Abeokuta and my mother’s side from Ijebu Ode.
What was it like growing up in America but being born in Nigeria?
It was an interesting experience because I interacted with American culture at school most of the day but then would come home to a Nigerian filled household. We never lacked culture; from food, to language, to attire. I think it was the best of both worlds because I got to grow up fully American and Nigerian.
What's it like growing up in a Nigerian household?
It’s an experience to say the least. It’s one filled with comedy, culture, discipline, and high expectations. Culturally I’m Yoruba so I grew up with that being my second language. I also got to enjoy amazing foods such as jollof rice, amala, stew, chin chin, and puff puff.
Talk to us about the struggle of adapting to American culture and being raised in a Nigerian household?
It’s an interesting experience because you’re essentially an immigrant surrounded by a family that has to start over. America doesn’t recognize many African degrees so I watched my parents go to school all over again and advance to provide for our family. Since I was an infant when I came, I grew up with the same American experience my classmates had. However, mine was different in the sense that when I came home I was my parents’ personal teacher on American culture. I think it widened my lens of being in America because I knew the lingo and felt at home, yet I realized how much of a privilege it is to be in this country and could connect with the international world.
Do you identify as African or African-American?
I identify as African since I immigrated to the US and was born in Africa. However culturally I’m stuck between two worlds because there’s a lot of things in African culture I can’t relate to because I was raised in the US. Yet similarly, there are some African American customs that seem foreign to me because at home my family maintained their African ways.
Do you use any traditional Nigerian words or phrases in your everyday life?
I think naturally I’ve picked up some terms and use them as responding like “trafficate” which means to turn on your turning signal while driving. I also use terms like “eh hehn” to signal “good job.”
What is the Christian community like in Nigeria?
The Christian community in Nigeria is very strong. Growing up I went to The Redeemed Christian Church of God, one of the largest church chains in Nigeria that can be found in 178 countries internationally. Our North American summer convention was actually one of my first performances. Nigerians take faith very seriously, and it is a pivotal part of their way of life. In Nigerian Christian culture, prayer is very important and is often done very fervently and expressively.
Do you have a favorite Nigerian food?
My favorite Nigerian meal is Amala with Okra and Stew. If it’s a hot summer day then I enjoy eating garri.
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