Nigerians were joined by citizens of other African countries and the United States to commemorate the 58th independence anniversary at the Hempstead town in New York.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was also a moment of pride and recognition as the Nigerian flag was hoisted in Hempstead Town Hall to commemorate Nigeria’s independence.
NAN also reports that the Nigerian flag became the first flag of any African country to be hoisted at the Hempstead Town Hall, which houses the Council’s secretariat.
The Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Mr Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, said the hoisting of the Nigerian flag at the Hempstead Town Hall was an added achievement to the 58th independence anniversary.
Okoyen said: “For us as Nigeria and Nigerians, it is very significant and symbolic that a community is identifying Nigeria because of her achievements and the achievements of her citizens that are resident in this community.
“It says a lot to us in Nigeria because Nigeria anywhere can do well. It is a proof to everyone of us to continue to be ourselves.
“We are respectable, we are resourceful, we are resilient, we are hardworking, we are industrious. Nigerians are one of the best in the world.
“So for this community to identify and single out Nigeria among all the African countries for the first to hoist our flag in the city hall, is an achievement added to our independence day,” Okoyen said.
Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, said the hoisting of the Nigerian flag started from a recommendation by a Liberian resident in the U.S, Prof. Elseah Chea.
“So it’s something that we need to do, that the first time that an African flag has flown here in the town of Hempstead and it is over 360 years old.
“There are some people who don’t understand but it did matter to me because we are all one.
“This town is composed of many different ethnic groups and as such they feel we should celebrate, and that’s why we’re doing it. It is important.
“You were under the leadership of the United Kingdom for years; Nigerian was founded over 500 years before Christ and it’s time that they were recognised for all that they give and all that they do.
“Nigerians are wonderful, wonderful people. So I’m very happy to be able to host this,” she said.
Goosby, who is the first African-American to have ever served on the Senior Council Board, said she probably could have some Nigerians in her lineage, owing to “the evil of slave trade”.
Speaking with NAN, Chea, a Liberian-American professor of English at Molloy College, Hempstead, New York, said his recommendation was borne out of appreciation to Nigeria’s sacrifice for Liberia.
Chea said: “I have three grandchildren whose parents are actually Nigerians and one of the grandchildren is 26years old but prior to that, I met Nigerians even from Liberia.
“I knew Nigerians in Liberia. So today’s event signifies unity among Africans. You don’t have to be a Nigerian to do what we did here.
“I’m from Liberia and really, for me, this is a real pride because Nigeria saved Liberians from the carnage, from that war. Nigerians laid their lives on the line for Liberians.
“So for me, I’m happy to do this on behalf of Liberians to say thank you Nigeria, thank you for what your soldiers have done to free my folks from the carnage of the Liberian civil war. It’s a pleasure doing this today.”
Chief Emmanuel Anosike, President, American-Nigerian Chamber for International Trade and Commerce, said the independence was worth commemorating adding, the honour and recognition by the town of Hempstead were well-deserved.
Anosike, a Nigerian community leader, said: “The reason why we are celebrating this today is because of our accomplishments, our achievements and the impacts Nigerians have in this community.
“So the community recognises that we have lots of engineers, lots of architects, lots of Nigerians professionals that live here.
“So they feel that it is worthwhile to recognise the achievements and therefore, give impetus and ask us to continue to be useful to the community where we live.
“It conveys that we have been good, law-abiding citizens, it means that the town appreciates all the hard work we are doing, it means that we are very productive, it means that our accomplishments and our country is recognised and they are very much appreciative.”
Students of David Patterson Elementary School, Hempstead, New York, which joined the in commemorating the independence anniversary and the hoisting of the Nigerian flag, recited the U.S. pledge of allegiance, in addition to the Nigerian pledge.