Nigerians based in the United States gathered in New Jersey to celebrate the 12th Annual Nigerian Sports and Cultural Carnival organized by the Nigerian Sports and Cultural Organisation.
The carnival featured the Yoruba board game “ayo”, football, table tennis, chess, draughts, dancing competition and musical performance, awards presentation, among others.
The Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Ambassador Lot Egopija, who led the staff of the Consulate-General to the carnival, pledged to use cultural and sports carnivals to unite Nigerians living in the US.
He said: “We will continue to elaborate on our efforts to support our nationals in New Jersey and other states within the jurisdiction of the consulate-general.
“This is a mandate that we have and we will continue to provide consular services to our nationals. We will continue to make sure that every Nigerian gets the service he or she deserves.’’
The Nigerian envoy affirmed his support for the sustainability of the carnival and thanked the organisers for the laudable initiative.
Egopija said he looked forward to an expanded carnival in 2022 when the consulate-general would be more involved.
He urged the participants “to remember that we are Nigerians marching towards one destination even as we relax and enjoy the event”.
The co-founder of the organisation, Mr Anozie Ugenyi, said the primary objective of the carnival was to bring Nigerians out once in a year to relax with their families and loved ones.
“Upon our research, we found out that two things bring Nigerians together are sports and culture. Nigerians love sports and they love to enjoy themselves, especially in an atmosphere that reminds them of their cultures.
“People come from all walks of life and people who are friends of Nigeria are here. Also, we have the soccer teams representing the diversity of Nigeria,’’ he said.
Ugenyi said the carnival availed Nigerians the opportunity to set a day aside to come out from their hectic schedules and mingle with other Nigerians from all over the US and New Jersey in particular.
Former Flying Eagles player, Tajudeen Disu, who was a guest at the carnival, expressed delight that the carnival brought Nigerians of diverse backgrounds together, saying that sport was more than entertainment.
“Culture and sports unify people. When there is a cultural event, people go and enjoy it, the same with sports carnival; people derive joy from attending it,” Disu told the News Agency of Nigeria in an interview.
The carnival, which had as theme: “Nigeria we hail thee’’, drew Nigerians and friends of Nigeria from all walks of life and featured awards presentation to notable Nigerians.