– President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria this night scored a major
cultural coup d’etat at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts at 2700
F Street, Washington, DC. If I didn’t witness it, I wouldn’t have
believed that thousands of Nigerians, Africans and Americans, would have
jam-packed the Center to listen to an extravaganza of Nigerian cultural and
traditional musical performances.
don’t know how Jonathan’s other days are going to be for the U.S.-Africa
Leadership Summit, but tonight he was a darling of the thousands of people who
were at the Center.
receiving my African Diaspora Bridge Builders Award from the African Union
Diaspora Africa Forum at the Washington DC Marriott Hotel at the Metro Center –
by the way Hon. Abike Dabiri, Chairman of the Nigerian House of Representatives
Diaspora Committee received one with some members of her committee – we rushed
over to the Kennedy Center just as the performances were in the last throes of
coming to an end. People were cheering the performers especially the
acrobatics of the flutist who normally accompanies the Atilogu dancers.
performance for the artists who were cheered incessantly.
the end when President Jonathan appeared, the crowd jumped up and roared with
cheers. Tonight, he won the hearts of Nigerians, Africans and Americans
who had come to savor the cultural heritage of Nigeria. This was a part
of the transformational agenda of his administration in its attempts at
rebuilding the international image of the country.
as people streamed out, I took the opportunity to talk to some of the
people. “Excellent,” “Fantastic,” were the words people used to describe
their experiences of the night. At the reception, it was the same
encomiums of praise that people lavished at the performances. A group of
ten white people just labeled the night, “Amazing.”
was simply excellent,” according to Mr. J.K. Randle, OFR, FCA, and Chairman and
Chief Executive of the firm, “but we need to show this to the world, not to
think the event was a pinnacle achievement of Nigeria presenting itself in a
positive light here in America. That the effect was so positive that even
the persons from Ethiopia and Kenya that I sat between both said that they were
never so proud to be Africans, that their spirits were so raised by the
Nigerian presentation,” Mr. Robert Brunner, Vice President and General Manager,
Arik Air North America.
the rousing welcome, Jonathan came out and thanked the audience. He paid
great compliments to President Barack Obama of the U.S. “Fifty-three
years ago, our Prime Minister Sir Tafawa Balewa was here in Washington DC, as
guest of John F. Kennedy to lay the foundation of Nigeria-U.S. partnership,
which has been sustained over the years.” We will bring you the whole
speech when it is published.