Monday, October 6, 2008

48th Nigerian Independence Anniversary

On October 4, 2008, I attended a celebration of the 48th Anniversary of Nigerian Independence, staged by Nigerians and their friends in Minnesota. The event was held at the Center for Families, in Minneapolis, For virtually the whole day, as the festivities and speeches went on, our minds and hearts were turned towards Nigeria.

I have visited only several African countries, but as a teacher I know something about all of them, especially on the political and cultural side. Participating in African events here in the USA always reminds me how much alike we Africans are, in terms of how we do things and how we think and talk about our countries and continent.

We want our countries to move ahead, on all fronts. With its many resources and great potential, we want our continent to take its rightful place in the world.

It is always gratifying to be with fellow Africans and reaffirm these dreams. On this occasion of the anniversary of Nigerian Independence, I got to meet people I knew and others I hadn't met before. I got to refresh my memory about Nigeria's past and to hear what issues concern Nigerians today. If you listen only to western media reports, you might not hear much good news about Nigeria. So, it was quite remarkable to see American fans of Nigeria, one of whom said he had visited Nigeria fourteen times.

An official from the Nigerian Embassy was on hand, answering questions and offering guidance on various issues.

A group of drummers and singers added joy to the occasion. It was great to hear the sounds of Africa and experience its rhythms right here in midwestern USA.

Events like this enable people to meet, socialize, and share ideas. Given the work routine and isolation of life in America, these events help heal and rejuvenate the spirit. I marvelled at the zeal and committment of the organizers of this event, the Minnesota Institute for Nigerian Development (MIND), whose president, Dr. Richard Oni, spoke passionately about the need for Nigerians to come together as one nation to pursue their own and their countries progress.

I came with my books, including Notes on Achebe's Things Fall Apart, which, considering that Achebe is Nigerian, was particularly appropriate for this occasion. The book is available here: