By Lauren Hunter (she/her)
Nigerian Independence Day is celebrated every October, and the party has come to Strathclyde! We sat down with the Nigerian Society’s treasurer – and VP Welfare of Strath Union – Rachael Okoh, to find out what makes this day of great music, amazing outfits, and even better food so special.
LH: What is the significance of Nigerian Independence Day and what do you do to celebrate it?
RO: Nigeria used to be colonised by the British, but in 1960 we got our independence and every 1 October we celebrate that day. People celebrate in different ways – the majority do parties like what we’re having, but we always sing the national anthem to celebrate the fact we are our own country with our own independence. It’s like a remembrance day.
LH: Can you tell me a bit more about the Nigerian society itself – what other events do you do?
RO: The Nigerian Society helps the majority of Nigerians who come here. We give them all the information they need – we do inductions at the start of each new semester, and we have sessions where we cover CV writing, even dissertation prep. We also have social events like today where people come and enjoy themselves. We build community but also give good tips to Nigerians who come here to help them do well in student life.
LH: What are the benefits of having the society?
RO: When students come to a new country it’s always good for them to have community because it’s easy for them to come, be isolated, and stay in their own bubble. Through the society, students can come and build friendships and networks with people from the same culture.
LH: What are your favourite parts of Nigerian culture?
RO: I would say it’s the people! We are really very social – you can actually make a friend, a brother, a sister in a Nigerian; we are very open to meeting new people, and we are very nice – until you annoy us! We have good food – no offence to Glasgow, but we have better food! It turns out our fashion industry, our clothing, is also extremely special. What we design back at home are really unique pieces – almost everyone has a specific style or a particular outfit from back home. There’s lots of different materials and colours. It’s really beautiful, fun and fashionable.
LH: What would you like other Strathclyde students who aren’t a part of the Nigerian Society to know about your culture generally?
RO: I want other students to know that Nigerian students are really nice people, and we would love to have conversations with them! If you have a Nigerian in your class, you should try and say hello and have a good chat. We want them to know that they are welcome to our society too – we’ve had events in the past where we’ve collaborated with the likes of the Language Café, and we’ve taught Nigerian language to other students. We are really open to collaborations between other groups and students, and we want them to know Nigerians are good people!
You can join the Nigerian Society here.