Africa’s leading nation Nigeria, turned 58 on October 1, 2018; an occasion usually celebrated at home as well as in the diaspora by citizens of the oil rich country.Chairman, Swindon Nigerian Community Group, Oloyode Fateru
This year Nigerians resident in Swindon, in Wiltshire, South West England in a the UK came together under the aegis of the Swindon Nigerian Community Group (SNCG) in the spirit of unity, solidarity and patriotism to celebrate their country’s independence from colonial rule into nationhood.Councilor Junab Ali, Mayor of SwindonExecutive committee members of SNCG
An offshoot of the Swindon West African Community (SWAC), SNCG’s celebration of Nigeria’s independence this year recorded the highest turnover of participants, as both men and women of Nigerian origin, resplendent in their array of home and western attires felicitated with each other on the milestone.R-L, Chairman SNCG Fateru, Mayor of Swindon Ali & SNCG member
The Swindon West African Community was borne of the need to have an umbrella under which issues concerning West African community in the community could be addressed, while also fostering cultural unity and integration.
Essentially, SWAC ultimately interfaces between the West African community in Swindon and the Borough Council.Guests with an SNCG member
Swindon is a large town in Wiltshire, South West of England, between Bristol, 35 miles to the west, and Reading, the same distance east. London 71 miles to the east, Cardiff 60 miles to the west and Oxford 26 miles north east.
It has a population of 240,000. The town development act 1952 led to a major increase in its population.Swindonians with Councilor Junab and Chairman Fateru
Swindon railway station is on the line from London Paddington station to Bristol. Councilor Junab flanked by SNCG members
Swindon Borough council is a unitary authority, independent of Wiltshire council since 1997. Residents of Swindon are known as Swindonians.SNCG Chairman and Councilor Junab flanked by SNCG members
As the population of Nigerians rose among the Swindonians it became imperative to have a separate body by which their issues could also be addressed, still under SWAC nevertheless, and this need gave birth to the Swindon Nigeria Community Group, SNCG.
Present at the independence day celebration were a number of personalities including the Mayor of Swindon, Councilor Junab Ali who gave a rousing speech of encouragement during the occasion.
Councilor Junab Ali, Mayor of Swindon
Africhroyale team was fully represented at the occasion, and found time to have audience with the president of the host community who spoke on issues bordering the SWAC and SNCG. It was as interesting a discourse as it was enlightening.
Could you please give a brief introduction of yourself?
My name is Oloyede Oluwaseyi Fateru. I am the current chairman of Swindon Nigerian Community Group (SNCG) formally referred to as Nigerian Independence Day Group and formed by the Swindon West African Community (SWAC).
I am a family oriented person, an ex – service personnel in the British Army as a Logistic Specialist, decorated with medal for his courage and selfless service in Afghanistan.
Give us a brief background of Swindon West African Community, (SWAC)
SWAC was formed in 2009 by West African families in Swindon at a time when the number of Africans residing in Swindon was very low. The aim was to address issues arising among West Africans in the community.
What informed the name SWAC and indeed the entire concept?
As the name infers, SWAC is an acronym for Swindon West African Community. It is a body of West Africans residing in Swindon. The concept behind the formation of the group basically is to promote cultural affinity, integration among West Africans in the community, foster exploits in business and to form a ready synergy to drive its interests. As said earlier, SWAC also serves as a link between the Borough Council and the community of Africans here.
What other activities is SWAC involved in?
SWAC is involved in Charity, volunteering, community work, hosting summer family day in the park and we are also proposing having an end of the year party anually.
What is the long time vision of SWAC?
The long term vision of SWAC is to have a community hall, which is now being pursued by SNCG. The centre will be used for workshops, meeting and the hosting of events, which to a large extent will provide the necessary stimuli to accommodate positive projections on how further to improve on the well being of the community as well as how the home front West Africa.
Why was it necessary to also form the Swindon Nigerian Community Group?
As the population of Nigerians continued to expand there was a need to form a separate group particularly for Nigerians, again to address issues peculiar to us, promote business prospects, unity and our cultural heritage.
What is your impression about the Nigerian Community in Swindon?
Nigerians in Swindon are very intelligent, professional, hard working, God fearing and open minded. In fact, recent research revealed that Nigerians all over the world are happiest people on the planet and Nigerians in Swindon are no exception. SNCG will provide avenues to socialise, integrate, and promote cultural heritage and prospect local businesses.
What challenges do you face as a minority group in Swindon?
There are several challenges as a minority group but top of that is Integration; a well integrated community you would agree is strong and formidable. The other is recognition, both within and beyond the Swindon Community.
What do you think of the political scenario in Nigeria?
Well I think the country is getting more and more entrenched in democracy. Yes there will be challenges, but it can only get better with time. It is important for the right people to be voted into the country’s political space in order to bring about the desired changes. I can only advise Nigerians to choose wisely in the forthcoming general elections in 2019 and stand up for the right course in a peaceful way.
Are you interested in taking up political assignment in Nigeria in the nearest future?
At the moment the thought of taking political assignment has not crossed my mind, but I am not averse to it and cannot rule it out completely. Maybe in the future.
What is the motivation behind the Independence Day celebration?
October 1st is a day for joy and celebration for us Nigerians; It comes with the joy of having liberated ourselves from the shackles of colonialism and the journey to nationhood and greatness.
What is the turnout like during the celebration?
This year’s celebration recorded the highest turnout since we began hosting it and it was better planned and well supported by Nigerians in Swindon. It can only get better.
How is the group funded?
Funding of the group is mostly through donations, pledges and subscriptions by the committees.
What plans are there for next year’s Independence Day Celebration?
Our plan is to build on the success of this year’s event by reaching out to more people to join and support our ideas. We also plan to reach out to and invite prominent figures and dignitaries to grace the occasion next year.
It was a pleasure speaking with you