Nigerians living in the US on Saturday converged at New York in a carnival to celebrate the 61st Independence Anniversary of their homeland.
Newsmen report that the annual event, which usually features parade and carnival did not hold the parade component because of COVID-19.
Described as the largest gathering of Nigerians outside the shores of their homeland, the event was attended by Nigerians from all walks of life, particularly young people.
The Nigeria Independence Day Parade commenced three decades ago by the Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians as part of an effort to challenge some negative stereotypes about Nigeria and Nigerians in the United States.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman, Nigeria Independence Day Committee, Mr Yinka DanSalami, said the event was a means of showcasing Nigeria’s rich culture and bringing Nigerians in the US together.
DanSalami said the event was also meant to bring the youth to network with one another and to understand their community better.
“It is also a way to let the whole world, the City of New York, State of New York and America in general to recognise Nigeria and Nigerians for who we are.”
“Nigerians are the most educated group in America, according to statistics. So, the parade is usually used to celebrate our accomplishments.
“We have used this parade to help Nigerians to marry one another. Apart from networking professionally. This is the best place to promote our culture.”
According to DanSalami, the 2021 edition is somewhat low-key without the parade component because of COVID-19.
“We would have cancelled it (2021 edition) but our youths insisted that they want to celebrate their culture and independence. So we settled for the carnival only.
“Hopefully, next year, we will be able to put at least 300,000 people on the street of New York to have both the parade and the carnival.”
The Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija, in his remarks, said the annual event was a rallying point for Nigerians in the diaspora.
Egopija praised Nigerians in the US for continuing to make Nigeria proud by excelling in their chosen endeavours.
He said the consulate remained proud of their achievements and celebrate their contributions that cut across every sphere of life in the US.
“I wish to specially recognise the patriotic zeal of our youths and their commitment to our country. Youths have been an important group at this annual event as their energy adds glamour to the carnival.’’
The envoy urged participants to observe COVID-19 protocols put in place by the host authorities, imploring Nigerians who had not taken the vaccine to do so.
In his remarks, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, thanked the organisers of the event for coming up with the 2021 edition, in spite of COVID-19 challenges.
Muhammad-Bande said it was important for Nigerians to celebrate life and add to the diversity of New York City as an important city in the world.
“New York prides itself as being host to millions of people and the Nigerian component is a very important one,’’ he said.
The Nigerian envoy also thanked the friends of Nigerians for their support and assured them that Nigerians never fail.
The carnival featured musical performances by Nigerian artistes, DJs, Nigerian cuisines, cultural performances and tributes to members of the Nigerian community who lost their lives since the last event.
Late Ifeoluwa DanSalami, late Raheem Banire and late Robert Omotade were honoured and presented with memorial plaques at the carnival for their contributions to the development of the Nigerian community in the US.