If you are a Nigerian living abroad and thinking about Independence Day with fond memories, you aren’t alone. Over 1.24 million Nigerians are working and living outside their homeland.
Independence Day is largely a date of rest and relaxation, a national day to spend with family and friends. From Abuja to Lagos, Nigerians dress in green and white and honor their past, present, and future as a nation. For those living abroad, it may not feel the same. But just because it isn’t the same doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
In fact, Nigeria Independence Day is the perfect time to come together with the local Nigerian, and, at times, pan-African community. In some cases, the local community may also want to learn more about Nigerian culture and its struggle for independence.
In this guide, we’ll cover how you can keep the festive and patriotic spirit alive on Nigerian Independence Day, even if you are living abroad.
Explaining Nigeria’s Independence Day to Your Friends Abroad
Whether you live in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, or another country, there’s a good chance that your neighbors, co-workers, and friends don’t know much about Nigerian Independence Day. And they may ask you about it. While they may not know much about the history of Nigeria, many will relate to the patriotic feelings of independence. So, it can be helpful to summarize the main events:
What would become the modern state of Nigeria was first formed in 1914 under the British Empire. However, the Nigerian people were always campaigning for their independence from Great Britain from that period onwards.
In the 1940s, the future first president of independent Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe, formed the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), and worked together with other nationalist figures like Obafemi Awolowo for freedom. And the hard work of the many revolutionaries paid off.
On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its total independence from British colonial rule. The new country received a Freedom Charter on that date from Princess Alexandra of Kent, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative at the Nigerian independence ceremonies.
As you know, Independence Day is always celebrated on October 1st, and is a national holiday in Nigeria. Being abroad, you may or may not get this day off. But if you want the time to celebrate, it’s best to ask for the day off in advance. Of course, in 2022, it falls on a Saturday—so you may be off work, anyway.
Who Celebrates Independence Day Outside of Nigeria?
Since many Nigerians live abroad, the country’s Independence Day is celebrated worldwide. The largest celebration outside of Nigeria is held annually in New York.
But you may also find smaller celebrations across the United States, the United Kingdom, Cameroon, Niger, Ghana Italy, Benin, and other major expat and immigrant hotspots.
How to Have a Festive National Independence Day Away from Home
There are many fun activities that you can do to commemorate Independence Day, even outside of West Africa. Outside of watching the president’s address from your computer or television, you can also:
- Hoist the national flag at your home
- Cook a delicious meal with all your family favorites
- Host a potluck with the local Nigerian community
- Wear the flag colors of green and white
- Enjoy your favorite music from the homeland
- Support local Nigerian businesses
- Set off fireworks, if allowed where you live
- Return home for a brief visit
- Have a virtual call with friends and family
You can also watch your favorite Nigerian movies—including those about independence day. Some classic films to consider are:
- October 1 – A crime thriller following Officer Waziri’s investigations of mysterious murders during the independence movement.
- Invasion 1897 – A historical drama that follows the beginning of British colonization in Nigeria and the downfall of the local Benin monarchy.
- The Herbert Macaulay Affair – This film follows the life of a young Nigerian nationalist from the 1920s, Herbert Macaulay.
You may also choose to spend time with family, and maybe even send relatives a small gift by sending funds back home.
For children or second-generation Nigerians, you may want to get them something personal and educational. Outside of family heirlooms and gifts from back home, you can always get them a book by Nigerian authors. That way you are also supporting Nigerian businesses and authors. Nigerian-specific publishers like Ouida, Kachifo, and Farafina carry books for all ages. Many of these publishers are based out of Lagos, but may ship books abroad.
Celebrating in the United States
The United States has one of the largest Nigerian diasporic communities worldwide. There are several local, state, and nationwide communities that may host a Nigerian independence day celebration.
Some communities to look into, if you haven’t already, are:
- Nigerian American Multi-Service Association (NAMSA)
- Nigerian-American Community Association (USA), Inc.
- Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN)
For example, the OAN organized a large independence day parade in 2021 in New York City for Nigeria’s 61st Independence Day celebration.
If you live far away from Nigerian communities, you can still get resources for a small family gathering. Online retailers like OsiArik, Royac Shop, and ER African Market deliver your favorite Nigerian and African ingredients, snacks, and general groceries. There are many local stores that may cater to West Africa in general, and they should offer some Nigerian brands.
Celebrating in the United Kingdom
Similar to the United States, there are a number of Nigerian associations that host events in the U.K., including:
Remitly Wishes Nigerians at Home and Abroad Happy Independence Day!
Whether you choose to relax at home and watch the President of Nigeria address the nation or join a community party, you have many options to commemorate the Independence Day of Nigeria. From movies to books and music, there are many ways to celebrate freedom from British rule outside of modern-day Nigeria.
One way to connect with friends and family is through sending remittances. Through our mobile app, you can send money directly to your loved ones’ bank for one small fee. To learn more about how Remitly works, check out our easy guide to sending money to Nigeria.
However you decide to celebrate, our team wishes you a Happy Independence Day!