New York – The Nigerian Independence Day Parade, an annual event held in the U.S., was inaugurated to help fight discrimination against Nigerians living in that country, an official said.

Mr Yinka Dansalami, Chairman, Organising Committee of the event, said in New York that the occasion, organised by Nigerians residing in the U.S., is to celebrate Nigeria’s independence, even in the face of all forms of discrimination meted out to them.

Nigerians all over the U.S. are gearing up for the 2017 edition of the event, which will hold on Saturday in New York.

Dansalami said: “We started this parade 26 years ago. When we first started it, it was because of issues that Nigerians were having in the United States.

“At that time, Nigeria and Nigerians were suffering seriously from negative stereotypes in the American media.

“Some of those issues were: we were unable to open bank accounts, we were unable to go to banks and we were being discriminated against.

“Actually I was a victim myself. I worked with the District Attorney office of Brooklyn at that time. So I needed to cash my cheque at City Bank so I gave them my Cheque.

“Then they said ‘where is your ID? I gave them my ID. Obviously they thought maybe I forged the ID, they sat me down; I was there for over 30 minutes.

“They would not call me, they would not cash my cheque for me and I was wondering what was going on.

“But the bottom line is: they still didn’t cash that cheque, they gave my ID back because they called around and then they gave me my cheque back, they would not explain why.

“That was part of the stereotypes we were going through during that time in the 1980s to 1990s and that was what actually prompted us to say we need to now showcase our culture.

“We need to now bring Nigerian image to the awareness of many people. So that’s how we started it to tell the world, who we are, not what they think we are.

“We believe it is one event where we can actually talk about the image of Nigeria at the same time, showcase our culture and also to bring our youth together”.

He commended the support of then Nigeria’s Ambassadors to the UN, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and Amb. Aminu Wali, and Consul-General of Nigeria Amb. Baba Abu.

“These were the people who had helped us to actually raise this Parade to another level because they trusted us; they realised what we were trying to do.

“They knew very well that this was not for our own benefit but for the benefit of Nigeria. We strongly believe that when we are talking about the image of Nigeria, this is where we should be focusing on.

“And we are glad that this is the largest so far of any African Parade in the United States. We are doing our best and we know we can do better,” he said.

He called on Nigerian artistes to support the Parade adding, they should be more than willing to come and actually show their patriotism for the love of Nigeria.

“They should see what we are doing instead of asking us for ridiculous amount of money to participate in our parade,” Dansalami said. (NAN)

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