Teaching about culture is no easy task. In a world where we look for categories and definitions, it can be tempting to say “this is what people in Nigeria eat; this is what Nigerian people do for fun.” However, my favorite pastime (hiking) is very different from my brother’s (computer games), and we grew up not only in the same culture, but in the same family! The We Are Maine exhibit takes a different approach; giving children the opportunity to see a Maine child’s life and heritage, and to learn about his traditions in a unique, interactive setting.
This summer and fall, Ibe Mokeme from Peaks Island will be the featured Mainer. His father, Oscar, is from Nigeria, and Oscar has generously loaned the Museum & Theatre many artifacts from Nigeria and Ibe’s life to help demonstrate their story.
At Welcome to Our Table, children can play with food Ibe and his family enjoy, including Ibe’s favorite- macaroni and cheese! When exploring the area, examine the types of food, family pictures, and recipes- and ask each other questions. Do you enjoy fish? What ingredients are new to you? This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about the whole foods ingredients come from, and how some food grows in specific places. Don’t forget to take a sniff of some seasonings that are sometimes used by the Mokeme family (the crayfish will knock your socks off!).
Drumming is an important part of Ibe’s family story- he shares a special drum game with his father and they practice traditional dances together. In the Celebrate with Us exhibit there is a hand drum for anyone to try on and costumes that were once worn by Ibe. Around the exhibit you can find Ibe translating simple phrases into Igbo (pronounced ee-bo), a language spoken by many in Nigeria.
We Are Maine is a great opportunity to learn something new and to explore your own heritage. After watching the video of Ibe, record your own video in the Tell Your Story kiosk. We all have a story to tell, and the more we share, the more we will learn about each other and new places!