By John Ikani
Nigerians living in the US on Saturday converged at New York in a carnival to celebrate the 61st Independence Anniversary of their homeland.
The annual event described as the largest gathering of Nigerians outside the shores of their homeland was attended by Nigerians from all walks of life, particularly young people.
Origin of the Nigeria Independence Day Parade in the US dates back to three decades ago when it was organized 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 this year’s 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,” he said.
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,” he added.
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.