It all started as a high school reunion in 1996. Two girls based in the US were inspired to organize a reunion for their friends from Queen’s College. They extended invitations to their male counterparts who graduated from King’s College and as time went on, the small gathering of friends expanded. The rest as they say is history…
Now formally known as the Nigerian Reunion Corporation (NRC), the NRC’s primary purpose is to promote and strengthen the unity and honor of Nigerians and Nigerian descendants in the Diaspora by drawing on Nigeria’s broad cultural diversity to facilitate professional and academic development in a relaxed and entertaining environment.
This year’s event themed, “An awakening, a change, a promise for the future- the Golden Year” took place from July 2nd to July 5th in Long Island, New York. The star-studded event had young Nigerian entrepreneurs, professionals, entertainers, politicians and students in attendance.
CP-Africa.com catches up with NRC’s President, Segun Adeyina and he gives us a synapses of the organization’s goal, ultimate vision and some perspective on the role of the Diaspora in nation building among others..
I have a personal vision that all of us can change Nigeria by being involved in one community platform that promotes the interest of our country – Segun Adeyina
But first, below are some pictures from this year’s event. CP-Africa.com’s interview with Segun comes right after! Enjoy!
Town Hall Meeting…
“Photos by Bukoye Afolake of Bukoye Signature”
INTERVIEW WITH SEGUN ADEYINA, PRESIDENT-THE NIGERIAN REUNION CORPORATION
CP-Africa.com: In one sentence, please can you summarize the objective of the NRC?..
Segun Adeyina: Uniting the next generation.
CP-Africa.com: This year’s event was also billed to celebrate Nigeria’s 50th anniversary since independence. What message do you have for Nigerians as we prepare to mark Nigeria at 50?
Segun: They have to reflect on where we are today and what we have gone through in the last 50 years. We can’t always be overly critical of ourselves and be very passionate about our country too. This is a new era, we don’t have to just criticize but criticize with a plan and an objective as well as work towards unifying the country. We have a lot of cultural diversity…(and as a result) have ethnicity problems from time to time. It shouldn’t be about ethnicity, it should be about being the best we can be in this world. We see a lot of countries advancing because they have learned that a nation can only truly advance together. We are very strong individually but community-wise, we have not gotten there yet. We are still learning. We really have to come together, especially in 2011, to push the country to the next level.
CP-Africa.com: What is the impact of the activities of the NRC on Nigerians back home?
Segun: Being in the Diaspora, we have settled here, even though Nigeria is our home. The impact that this event makes is not just on us as individuals but on future generations…especially those that have not had the opportunity to go to Nigeria to see where their parents come from…In addition, the NRC serves as a platform for non-Nigerians to see the best of Nigeria.
CP-Africa.com: It often appears as though there is generally a preference for NRC goers to attend the party at the NRC en-masse compared to other events such as the “Town-hall meeting.” Do you have any plans of re-organizing the event’s format? How can more Nigerians get involved in other segments of the event?
Segun: No. We don’t want to change the format but we want to enhance it. It is a festive weekend. It is a July 4th weekend. If you look at other communities this weekend, they are doing the same thing. They are going out to picnics, they are attending parties, they have fireworks…it is a celebration of a weekend of July 4th for our host country, so we don’t want to make it a really serious event. But we will enhance it. We have always enhanced it by having a Town-hall meeting, which is what we kicked off the event with. This year, we also had a soccer-viewing march–unfortunately, the turnout was low because Nigeria wasn’t participating; we had a health-fair as well as a spiritual connection event. So we will continue to enhance the NRC by adding more value to our Town-hall meetings and other programs.
CP-Africa.com: But if you were to change anything in the event in the past couple of days, what will you change or do differently?
Segun Adeyina: Well, I can’t change anything (laughs). There are always things we can change. One of the things that challenged us this year is resources. That is what you need to make a program run successfully.
CP-Africa: What are some of the challenges you face organizing the Nigerian Reunion annually?
Segun Adeyina: Resources, resources, resources… it is more than just the money because if it was the money we will probably not be doing this event. It is a lot of production and we really need people behind us to support the event. Most importantly, we need to get the message out there. We also need to get more people involved on the platform. There are many ways to get involved.
CP-Africa.com: What are some of these ways?
Segun Adeyina: One is through sponsorships. (This year), we had partnerships with UNI-HIV, the Nigerias Nurses Association, BigNews entertainment, Afro-tainment, RCCG Long-Island among others. There are different ways one can get involved, both from the programming side, the productions angle, and of course, becoming a part of the organizational team.
CP-Africa.com: How many people attended this year?
Segun Adeyina: I would say roughly about 4,000…
CP-Africa.com: Where will the NRC hold next year…?
Segun Adeyina: We have a few ideas…but we’ll see.
CP-Africa.com: Some young people in Nigeria still believe life begins outside Nigeria. For someone who has lived in the United States for a while now and who had the opportunity to experience Nigeria, what is your opinion? Does life begin outside Nigeria?
Segun Adeyina: Life begins in Nigeria. I say that because I go back to my childhood and I enjoyed the days I was in Nigeria. I never thought I was coming to the US or anywhere else to settle… it was just that the climate changed, the political climate changed…during that time I came we were under the military rule, and it was very hard for the country to grow. Nigeria is flourishing now, we have had democracy for three terms and we are going to a fourth one. There has been a lot of improvement in a lot of industry but we have a long way to go still… I believe we can empower ourselves by for instance going abroad to get an education…but we need to go back home and be the resource that can build our country…others can’t do it for us… It is our home,our country which is why we have to go back and do our best to contribute our quota
CP-Africa.com: Do you have plans of going back home?
Segun Adeyina: Yes I do.
CP-Africa.com: Any last words for our Nigerian readers?
Segun Adeyina: Come to our events. There are opportunities for informal mentor-ship and networking between the young and older Nigerians in the Diaspora . We want people to not just support the event but to come, get inspired and leave a legacy.