For the second time, the U.S. Town of Hempstead on Tuesday honoured Nigeria by hoisting the nation’s flag in commemoration of its 59th Independence anniversary.
The flag-raising ceremony, held at the premises of the Hempstead Town Hall, was organised by the city council in collaboration with the Nigerian community.This followed the first one held on Oct. 1, 2018 at the same venue.
In attendance were members of the Nigerian community and officials of the Nigerian consulate in New York led by the Consul General (CG), Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen.
Joining them in the celebration were senior local officials, including the Mayor of the Incorporated Village of Hempstead, Mr Don Ryan, and the Senior Councilwoman, Dorothy Goosby, who anchored the ceremony.
Friends of Nigeria from other African countries and in the U.S. were also present to identify with the celebrants.
The day began with the Senior Councilwoman reading a brief profile of Nigeria, followed by traditional and Christian prayers for the country and its leaders.
Thereafter, a schoolboy of Nigerian descent, Master Joel Green, mounted the podium and led the gathering in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
His schoolmate, Miss Wealthy Morgan, took over with recitation of “Invictus”, a short Victorian poem in which the English poet, William Ernest Henly, tells how he never gave up in the face of adversity.
Morgan began by declaring that she “loves the colours that the Nigerian flag represents: white in the middle of green; purity in the middle of wealth”.
Addressing the gathering afterwards, Consul General (CG), Mr Okoyen described Nigeria as “a beautiful black nation and the pride of Africa”.
According to him, Oct. 1 is a day Nigerians all over the world “celebrate freedom and the beautiful traditions of our people”.
“Today, we celebrate freedom and the beautiful traditions of our people; we celebrate strength, dignity and our diversity as a nation,” the CG said.
He called on Nigeria’s friends, partners and the entire world to believe in the country, while also urging Nigerians to unite and keep faith with their fatherland.
The Consul General thanked the Hempstead city officials for the honour, and lauded Nigerians in the U.S, for their “exceptional display of professionalism and competence in various fields of human endeavors”.
In a goodwill message, a Liberian citizen and Professor of English, Mr Elseah Chea, congratulated Nigerians for the honour.
Prof. Chea, who reportedly recommended the hoisting of the Nigerian flag in 2018, said it was the beginning of official recognition of the African community in the city.
Highpoint of the ceremony was the hoisting of the Nigerian flag besides that of the U.S. in front of the Hempstead Town Hall Plaza.
With a population of about 750,000, Hempstead is America’s largest township, occupying the southwestern part Nassau County in New York State.