The doors of the 6 train opened with a mass exodus for the surface. Even without knowing that today was a special day, inquiring minds would have wonder what all the green and white was for. By 11:40AM Second Avenue had been taken over by a sea of people adorned in the true colors they bleed.
Armed with a camera, a notepad and smartphone, it definitely felt like the making of another entry into the “Not lying to your kids when time comes” section of my life. Amongst the many things you’ll ever teach them and ways you stir them aright, the question might pop up and you might want to be prepared for the answer. Have you seen a live soccer game? Have you been to a world cup? Did you see history get made on the steps of the national mall in Washington DC? And maybe one for national pride- Have you ever been to a Nigerian Day Parade?
In many ways it felt like a homecoming celebration; a reunion of sorts. Over a dozen floats with various themes were in place, old friends were being reacquainted and most especially your homecoming queens and kings took their rightful places for all to see.
Anyone who has ever been to New York knows that the city rarely shuts down for anything and for that time period between 54th and 44th street on Second avenue all you could see was green and white. I Started off the inaugural experience on one of the most interesting floats attributing to City University ofNew York’s Nigerian affiliation and then later made it over to a float that had a bit of everything. No special affiliations or tags worth remembering, although come to think about it there was a big red Moneygram sign at the back and a blithe group of young people definitely heralded by the loud selection of contemporary Nigerian Hip-hop.
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was the location for the events that followed. Tents were pitched to envelope the park with a bit of Nigerian culture, cuisine and music. The food was definitely on point as vendors preyed on the most precious commodity we have as a people. It definitely lacked the feel of an African market however; there were a few authentic characters present to make the feeling of nostalgia come flooding through your system.
I dream of Balogun, Elegushi, teju osho, Sangros, Alaba, Alaba suru, and a host of others that are at the forefront of the Nigerian experience. “The Market: where respect comes in no age bracket” alluding to the fact that children in the market have a maturity that transcends their youth. The hope is that whatever change we witness within the country would be as a result of the lessons learned from Nigeria’s entrepreneurial nature. In order to relate better we must understand and love our differences. We sure do have a lot them. Nonetheless we grow older to get wiser and hopefully stronger in unity.
In a quiet moment within all the chaos and effervescence, I remember feeling proudly Nigeria. A point in time when the next logical step would be to stop all the world now and say a quiet prayer for where you come from.
Some more pictures…