“Style, class, fashion, uniqueness… don’t get me wrong, lots of people have different fashions, but Nigerian fashion is emerging.”
For Ruqaiya Musa Muhammad, a Nigerian who lives in St. John’s, nothing compares to the fabulous clothing that his home country is famous for.
“If you see a Nigerian dressed anywhere in the world you will always turn your head and say, come on! Where did you get it? That’s Nigerian for you.”
At St. John’s, you can see many of the best dressed Nigerians this week. The Nigerian-Canadian Association in Newfoundland & Labrador is holding Nigeria Week, with a number of events celebrating Nigerian culture.
There are information sessions, bowling evenings, rice cooking and a reception at Government House to mark the 60th anniversary of Nigerian independence. Some events happen in person, others happen online due to COVID-19 restrictions, but all are welcome to attend.
“We have a very strong community here,” said Somkene Mbakwe, president of the association. “The Nigerians in Newfoundland and Labrador number over a thousand, spreading from Corner Brook to Labrador.”
Mbakwe said that wherever Nigerians go, they love to show off their distinctive style.
“We’re not lowering our standards, we’re always improving our game.” he says. “And we like to be confident. I mean, if you look good, you have to be confident!”
WATCH: In honor of Nigeria Week, we asked some of the most fashionable Nigerians in St. John to show off their best looks:
Of course, wearing traditional Nigerian clothing in a cold part of the world has its challenges.
“Wearing Nigerian clothes in Newfoundland and Labrador is sometimes not that easy, because the fabrics are lighter,” said Esther Olorunsere-Oduekun, a Nigerian who has lived in St. Petersburg. John’s for five years. “But if I wear formal clothes like this, it’s thicker, so it can be worn easily because the cold doesn’t get into my body.”
Olorunsere-Oduekun says the classic Nigerian look incorporates many elements, all of which have cultural significance.
“When I think about Nigerian fashion, the most important things that come to my mind are colors, regalia, headgear. And sometimes even the accessories you have. You have corals, we use real corals to represent the royal family and abundance.”
For Ifeoma Ineh, a Nigerian who has lived in St. Petersburg John’s for three years, the most important part of Nigerian fashion is bright and bold colors.
“Nigerians are very confident people, and we represent part of that by showing multi-colored clothing.” he says. “And it brings out your beautiful self, and it makes you believe in society. So instead of just wearing plain colors, we embellish the event with different colors.”
Ineh says that Nigerian fashion is more than just looks.
“When I think of Nigerian fashion, I think of the elegance, confidence, beauty of Nigerians in our clothes.” he says. “We make sure we make statements wherever we go.”
Somkene Mbakwe hopes that people of all cultures will attend the Nigeria Week event. But according to him, the fashion that made his country famous is always on display.
“If you want to see Nigerians dress in this very elegant and attractive style, go to church, go to the mosque, go to events, go to Nigerian weddings! That’s where you see it, and you will see a lot of us, even on these days. normal day, just want to look good. “
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