This year on Oct. 1 marked 53 years of independence for Nigeria from the colonizing British.Nigeria acknowledged its independence by an act of it’s parliament and gained its independence from a nation that imposed its rule and conditions on a people whose history runs into the thousands of years. The theme for this year’s celebration was: “Nigeria, Time for Change.”

This past Thursday, Oct. 3, the Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians hosted a welcome party at the Tropical Grill in Queens and a “Culture Night” on Friday at the Brooklyn Music School & Playhouse. This wonderful event was hosted by the youth and included a pageant featuring four women competing for the crown: Edo State, Uwaila Enabuele; IMO State, Udoka Martins; Ekiti, Tolulope Ibrahim; and Benin City, Joy Osahun. They sang, acted and performed. In the end, Ibrahim won the crown.

Also performing were rappers, who got the crowd going. There was a lot of audience interaction, including a dance competition to Nigerian pop music and people telling funny stories of what happened when they first came to the U.S.

Nigeria Independence Day Parade Committee Inc. member Michael Adeniyi told the Amsterdam News, “Now is the chance to let the young people take over, so when we retire, the celebrations can continue.” And there were so many young people running the show and working with the elders.

Finally, on Saturday, Oct. 5, there was the Nigeria Independence Day Parade & Festival at 54th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan. Even though this is the 53rd year of independence, it’s the 22nd year of the parade, and green and white outfits were everywhere. Some were in native dress and others were in regular Western clothes. The parade had music and featured famous Nigerian and Jamaican artists Wande Coal and Kemimical.

There was, of course, plenty of dancing; glorious food; vendors selling clothes, trinkets and flags; and floats representing different organizations and more. It was fun and exciting to be a part of. The food and the atmosphere were the greatest parts. Can’t wait until next year.