June 23rd marks the birth of the “Nigeria Day” to give proper value to new citizens

“We are a hospitable country, we love life and the media stereotypes do not represent us” . With these words, Nigerian communities have expressed themselves about the narrative that the Italian media make of them, during the meeting held on June 23rd at the Rossini Theatre in Rome.

This one-of-a-kind event saw a joint effort of several Italian and Nigerian organizations with the specific intent of finally giving the right value to those who live and work in our country.
During the meeting, entitled “The Nigeria Day. The centrality of international cooperation”, the Nigerian community – which in Italy counts about 100,000 people – took the opportunity to tell its story, highlighting the strengths that characterize its people.

Prominent personalities both Nigerian and Italian, attended the event: H.E. Mfawa Omini Abam, Ambassador of Nigeria to Italy, Senator Tony Iwobi, Giuseppe Mistretta, official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Sivio Biagio, official of the Foreign Office of Milan. All their speeches emphasized the role of Nigeria and Nigerians, at national and international level, highlighting the achievements, too rarely remembered, of the most populous country in Africa.
“What do we know about Nigeria in Italy? Too little. It is good to remember that Nigeria gave birth to Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize for literature, but also to the Afrobeat music genre, not to mention the Nollywood film industry, which is the third largest in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood,” said Stella Maris, representative of the community.
The meeting was an opportunity to establish an important appointment that will involve from now on all Nigerian communities nationwide. Rowland A. Ndukuba, president of Nunai (National Union of Nigerian Association), declared: “Every year on June 23rd, Italy will celebrate the National Nigeria Day, to give proper value to Nigeria and our people.”

The hope, therefore, is that this event could be the forerunner to more and more forms of cultural integration in Italy, which needs to think of Africa not as a single continent, but as a melting pot of cultures. Furthermore, according to data released by Il Sole 24 Ore magazine and shared for the occasion by Senator Tony Iwobi, immigrants in Italy generate 9% of the Gross Domestic Product, so they are the ones who will support the cost of pensions for the elderly in the future, and who are currently slowing down the drop of the birth rate, now at lowest historical level in our country. This encouraging information let us hope for a sustainable future of our economy and also for a gradual decrease of social stigma, discovering a nation that is eager to get to know all the cultural wealth it has.
This was the original idea that endorses the Connect project, launched in August 2021, “Nigeria, full stop and new line”: an awareness campaign aimed at journalists, to ask them to subvert the narrative of news that most often point to Nigerians as criminals.

The voice of Nigerians in Italy

Doris Okafor, Vice-President of the Nigerian Community in Bologna, spoke out for Connect and said: “Today is a special day because we want to give voice to all the Nigerians who are now in Italy, promote peace, work for integration, walking side by side, and support them to settle in this country.”