Abigael Ruto, Senior Reporter
Oba Shaun never heard of Black History Month until he arrived in Canada from Nigeria five years ago.
The 30-year-old Humber student says although organizations must recognize various communities among them, he does not understand the concept of dedicating a month to Black history.
“To me, it’s just another day,” Shaun said. “I love my culture and colour and I celebrate it every day.”
His knowledge of Black history is of the path of those who walked to independence from slavery and how they got to where they are now.
“The only thing I know is that Africans were colonized and later gained their independence,” Shaun said. “Other than that, I have no idea what Black History Month is about.”
Black History Month founded in 1915 by American historian Carter G. Woodson — who is also called the father of Black history — and educator and minister Jesse E. Moorland, a white man who worked with the Black community through the YMCA. February in the U.S. was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976.
Humber honours and acknowledges its Black students by organizing events and activities within its campuses. The theme this year is “African-Americans and the vote” in honour of the centennial and sesquicentennial amendments and laws that gave Black people the right to vote.
The gap of knowledge between Black Canadians and Africans on the importance of the month seems wide.
To me, it’s just another day,”Oba Shaun, Humber Student
Hode Jijoho, also from Nigeria and a Business Management student at North campus, admits there is nothing exciting about what is already his identity.
“As an African, there is nothing to cheer you up about Black History Month except for my immediate culture,” Jijoho said.
Many like Jijoho and Shaun believe one is more curious about knowing what happened to other societies rather than what prevailed among Blacks.
“If you are born in Africa, you don’t care” about Black history because they are living in it, Jijoho said. “But if you are born overseas, you are curious to know how Black people emerged and coordinate themselves.”
One thing that is constant among African students is that it is important for them to know their history and culture, he said.
“It is good to trace their effort for the liberation of Africans and to know where we come from and where we are heading,” Jijoho said.
As the month progresses, Humber students are encouraged to celebrate its diversity by attending events dedicated to the Black culture.
Shaun, however, said the celebration of Black History Month gives him confidence in being proud of his identity.
“Canada is quite diverse,” he said.