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UNIPORT alumna on Igbo traditional costume

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Organizers plan big for Nigeria Cultural Parade in Texas on Sept 28

Houstonians are ready for a True NAIJA Experience — The Nigeria Cultural Parade and Festival is where culture is everything

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Nigerian Cultural Parade and Festival in Houston, Texas 2018

Culturally NAIJA and WeLEAD Inc. plans big for Nigeria Cultural Parade and Festival in Houston, Texas.

Nigerians living in Houston form the largest body of the nationals in the Diaspora. They are also the biggest African-American community in the state.

Sadly, there had been no effort to press home this population advantage—until recently thanks to the Nigerian Cultural Parade and Festival (NCPF).

Now, Linda Anukwuem, Executive Director, WeLEAD Inc. and Co-founder of the Nigerian Cultural Parade and Festival, alongside with the Culturally NAIJA are using the parade—and it’s festival—to provide a tribal platform for Nigerians in Houston and to tell more of the African community’s stories.

“We use it to highlight Nigeria’s colorful culture—of the Calabar, Efik, Ibibio, and others,” she told Being Nigerian.

Because Houston has a very diverse and multi-culture, there are lots of festivals and tribal events that make the city tick.

“You have a Greek festival, Italian festival, Colombian festival, and Chinese festival. They do it in a very big way. But we Nigerians who form the majority of the African population in Houston—we have no tribal platform that highlights our culture in a big way,” she said.

All that will be changing now, as the NCPF presents its third edition on September 28 and it’s going to be big.

The Houston Mayor office has come into a partnership with the organizers.

Besides shutting down the route for the carnival, Anukwuem said, also provided a grant in the first year of the parade.

“They are sponsoring a significant part of the budget for this year. And they allow us to put the city’s seal on our promotional literature,” she added.

A lot is actually in it—especially for Nigerians, home and abroad.

While the festival projects Nigeria positively, it indirectly creates an avenue to encourage tourism for Nigeria.

“We are highlighting not just the culture, but also the food and music of Nigeria. We create literature encouraging trade and investment,” she said.

More importantly, the festival, she added, creates a presence, and a political platform for Nigerians in Houston.

Part of the highlight of the third edition include Masquerade display, and the Mayor office, through its Culture Affairs Department, is in support of this.

Presently, the department has allowed the organizers to display their Masquerades in the lobby area of city hall.

“When someone goes in there, they can read a brief history of each Masquerade. They will read about the upcoming parade as well,” she said.

“This allows Nigeria to be highlighted for the month of September leading up to the parade.”

The whole idea is to present the authentic culture of the world’s most populous Black nation.

According to her, the groups that have signed up for participation will really display their traditional music, the instruments they play, their chants, and attires as they walk along the route.

“Non-Nigerians attending will then be able to see the true NAIJA Experience,” she said.

Actually, the Nigeria Cultural Parade & Festival is an idea whose time has come.

Anukwuem, before now, was the former chair of the Mayor International Trade and Development Council for Africa in Houston.

There were seven different councils in the mayor office then.

“The African council really lacked in highlighting business opportunities between Houston and Africa, and in exposing more about different African cultures,” she said.

“So when the opportunity came to work with the NCPF, it was more of an easy fix for me. I leveraged my past relationship with the mayor office.”

Many believe Nigerians in Houston are professionally sound and entrepreneurship-minded—doctors, engineers, lawyers, and others.

But they also know these Nigerians don’t expose their culture as much as the Italians, Colombians, Chinese, and others.

“We Nigerians keep ours within our own boundary,” she said.

“With the parade, we are going out to invite cultural groups; we’ll tell them we need to expose our culture outside of our community.”

And Houston, a premium location, is where it is at.

Why?

Anukwuem has a goal: to make the Nigeria Cultural Parade & Festival a city-wide event. And in three years’ time, to make it a tourist event in Houston.

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Ooni arrives Dublin for Int’l Art and Craft Festival in Ireland

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Ooni of Ife arrives Dublin in Ireland

Ooni of Ife has arrived Dublin, the capital Ireland to attend the Tell Africa International Art & Craft Festival with the themed “Uniting the world while sustaining the Africa identity

The festival was aimed at enhancing the status of the prestigious African cultural facts and values in the international world.

During his 7-day visit, Ooni will meet with Africans in the diaspora and Ireland government officials to strengthening ties between the two countries.

He will also pay a courtesy call to the Nigerian Embassy, visiting selected museums & Ladyewell Shrine, as well as witnessing the formal inauguration of Arole Oodua Competition and watch the football match between Afro Stars FC Vs. St Kelvin FC organized in his honor.

Other activities include; exhibitions, religious interdenominational services as well as attending the grand finale where the King and Exquisite Award will be held.

In 2016, Ooni visited the United States and is planning for the second visit, according to the Americas Director of the Ooni of Ife artifacts, Prince A.Z.K. Adekoya.

“We’re expecting him before this year rounds-off and the details will be available soon”

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United Nations exhibit Nigerian artwork by Kehinde Dada in New York

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Kehinde Dada

A Nigerian artist based in the United States has rendered the 17 goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in a visual form that drive home the problem confronting Nigerians.

The works, by Kehinde Dada, have drawn global acclaim, and the United Nations has dedicated four days to showcasing the 48-piece artistic development effort in an exhibition tagged Sustainable Development Goals Art Exhibition which started Monday.

The works, themed with the Nigerian culture and social challenges, simplify each of the SDGs, focusing on women and children in the throes of hunger, poverty, climate change, gender equality, and education, amongst others.

Dada said the main beneficiaries of the UN SDGs are Nigerians back at home. But he believed not many of them understand what SDGs are about.

“And if you don’t understand this, there is no way you can step into it, and be part of it,” the award-winning artist told Being Nigerian in New York.

“I need to translate this into a language that is universally accepted which they can easily understand. That’s what inspired me in that direction.”

His inspiration has now become infectious.

According to Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations, Ambassador Omar Hilale, the Socio-Economic Development Committee of the UN and other stakeholders in the SDGs have equally been inspired by Dada’s works to step up action in achieving the set goals.

The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations and General Assembly president-elect, Ambassador Tijjani Bande says the exhibition was organized to advance the SDG’s.

To Beneyaogha Okoyen, the consulate-general of the Nigerian Embassy in New York, the works were a clear, vivid representation of the SDGs.

“The impression was vivid,” he said. “For the first time, I have been able to visualize through the arts of a Nigerian the meaning of the SDGs, the effort and collaboration required to achieve the goals.”

And it is very important to the mission that a Nigerian actually did this, said Nichols Ella, a staffer at the mission.

The curator of the exhibition, Patrick Akinbola said he was really excited and proud to be a Nigerian.

“Coming on the heels of the appointment of Prof. Tijjani Bande as the president of the UN General Assembly, this exhibition really forms a high point for us as a nation,” Patrick Nicholas said. “By looking at the works, you can see international quality.”

While the tech expert admitted it is a trying time for Nigerians as a people of color in the US, he still encouraged Nigerians to take pride in Dada’s feat.

“Having an exhibition like this take place in the pavilion of the world which the UN headquarters represents, it’s something every Nigerian should be proud of,” he said.

The four-day exhibition started on Monday, with diplomats, UN staff. The event was organized by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations in collaboration with the Nigerian consulate in New York and Lankmark Kreations.

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