Ranking as the largest African immigrant community in America, Nigerians made their voices heard recently when they held a parade in Manhattan, New York to celebrate their country’s Independence day. As this report by Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye in Sun newspaper reveals.
When you hear about elaborate plans to celebrate Nigeria’s independence anniversary, what readily comes to mind as possible venue is the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja or at most, states capitals.
It is therefore interesting to know that the celebration of the day Nigeria took its freedom from colonial masters is not restricted to the country’s shore.
Some Nigerians in Diaspora have over the years resolved not to allow the long distance between them and Nigeria to stop them from celebrating the freedom of their father’s land.
For 27 years, the city of New York in the United States of America has played host to the annual Nigerian Independence Day Parade and Festival.
An event said to be the largest gathering of Nigerians outside homeland, Nigeria which started with mere 50 people on a rainy day in October 1991, has today grown to having 70,000 people come out to be part of the event.
The annual event which cost as much as $150,000 contributed by some members of the Nigerian community to put together, according to the organizers, is now in need of support from the private sector back home who want to advertise and the government.
As diverse as those who participate in the event annually, so also are the diverse benefits accrued to participants beyond celebrating Nigeria.
At this event, some people have met their life partners, others have met their business associates and yet others have met politicians, seeking new to occupy elected office back home.
Important messages to Nigerians living in the US to remain patriots and shun vices that will portray the country in bad light is shared, also messages to governments back home to ensure the coming elections are free and fair are also pushed out.
This year’s edition to mark Nigeria’s 58th independence anniversary, had several groups including supporters of the re-election of President Muhammadu and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Sowore Omoyele Presidential Campaign Organisation for 2019.
Other Nigerian groups that actively participated were the Igbo Organisation, USA, Faith-based organisations, Nigerian Nurses Association of USA, Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians and cultural troupes.
State associations in the U.S. were also represented, while several decorated carnival floats and green-white-green flags and costumes added colour to the event.
Nationals of several countries also joined in the parade while Personnel of the New York Police Department shut down half of the Second Avenue from 54th Street to 44th Street to motorists for the Nigerian Parade by the various groups.
The Parade was followed by the Independence Day Festival at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the UN Headquarters led by Sumonu Bello-Osagie, MC Terry and MC Lolade.
The whole of 47th Street on First and Second Avenues were blocked by Nigerians and spectators from other countries at the event who continued the celebration there after the parade.
The 27th annual Nigerian Independence Day Parade celebrated the very best of Nigeria’s food, music and people.
Thousands of Nigerian youths also had the best of time rapping, dancing the trending dance steps shaku shaku, singing and dancing to their favorite Nigerian music.
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