The annual Bini people’s cookout took over a large corner of Heckscher State Park in East Islip, Long Island, Saturday, July 4. A DJ got the tristate Nigerian folk into the right cultural mood, as the young, the not so young and the elders showed off their intricate moves, and some competed for cash prizes. Graduates of 2015, from grade school to masters to doctorates, were honored and gifted with not one, but two huge cakes. And of course, Edo people packed coolers full of jollof rice, suya (grilled spiced meat), efo riro (mixed green stew), moin moin (steamed beans), seasoned chicken for grilling and maize for roasting.

As the elders looked on, they seemed especially proud that the dozens of Bini-speaking youth were still enthusiastically embracing their ancient, yet ever-evolving, south-midwestern Nigerian culture.

Photos by Nosayaba Odesanya

Walter Asemoda, current president of the Edo Club, told the Amsterdam News that the event was all about family and passing on the culture to a new generation bombarded with so many negative distractions.

“We hold this picnic every year to unify the different Edo organizations in New York,” he said, flanked by former president, Osahon Obadiaru, and key member, Ogieva Obadiaru.

“This year we had about six organizations—all unified,” said Asemoda. “While we are all here in the states, we are saying that we do not want to forget our culture. That is why we want to involve our children now, because we are getting older, and they will be the ones to take over from us. That is why we recognize the graduates, for example. We want to encourage them always.”

“We always involve our young people in this event,” agreed Ogieva Obadiaru. “After all, it is about preserving our culture, and as for the next generation it is our responsibility to make sure they are a part of that.”

“Every year we want to make this bigger and better,” stated Osahon Obadiaru. “We are encouraged that so many young people attend. We are passing on our culture from one generation to another.”