Prince Albert Nigerian community eager to celebrate Independence Day

Nigerians from across Northeast Saskatchewan will celebrate the country’s Independence Day in Prince Albert on Saturday.

Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom on Oct. 1, 1960, and the Association of Nigerians in Northeast Saskatchewan has a special celebration planned to honour the event at Plaza 88 in Prince Albert on Saturday. Nigerian Day Celebration chair Dr. Edward Odogwu said the Nigerian community is eager to show off their culture, and celebrate the benefits the country provided them.

“For me, it’s very important,” Odogwu explained. “Our country is very blessed. It’s a very diverse country.”

Odogwu was born in the community of Kano in Northern Nigeria, but moved to Lagos at age four. He completed his high school studies there before going to university and serving a term with the Nigerian National Youth Service Program.

His studies and year of service took him across Nigeria. He said it’s a very interesting and diverse country, and the residents have a lot to offer the world.

“It’s a very family oriented country,” he said. “People, especially in the Christian part of the country, have a lot of family values, and they want to bring up their kids in that way, telling them that family is very important. You have to obey your elders. You have to be respectful and do things the right way.”

Nigeria has more than 200-million people who belong to hundreds of different tribal groups, but the three largest groups are the Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. Odogwu said each of the three major tribes have their own dances, music, clothing, and food, and Saturday’s Independence Day celebration is a chance to show them all off.

“It’s a multitude of people being happy and joyful,” he said.

Odogwu moved to Prince Albert in 2013, but he practiced in the United Kingdom and Ireland before coming to Canada. He met and married his wife in the U.K., and the first of their four children was also born there. The other three were born in Ireland.

He said Saturday’s Nigerian Day celebration is an important day for parents looking to teach their children about the country.

“It’s a way that they (children) would understand how their parents were brought up,” he explained. “We bring into light how things are done in Nigeria, for them to understand a little bit about where their parents came from, and understand their culture as well.”

After nine years in Prince Albert, Odogwu said he’s very happy he and his family made the move to Canada. However, he credits Nigeria with giving himself and other Nigerians a strong foundation to succeed, and that’s something he wishes to honour.

“The country has afforded us this opportunity to develop the skills we have, for us to go to another country and contribute positively,” Odogwu said. “It’s a connection. We have to celebrate what our country did for us.”

“It’s a growing population in Canada, and here in Prince Albert,” he added. “We’re very happy we relocated. We’re contributing positively to the economy in northeast of the province, and I think Nigerians are a very vibrant people and we want to make a positive change.

“We want to bring up the economy of the northeast province and contribute positively. That is our goal, and why we are here.”

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