Pirjo-Suomela-Chowdhury

Peace Obi

For 100 years, Finns have engaged themselves in building their country (Finland) in becoming one of the European countries with an intriguing success story. With great love for their country, Finns along with her leadership joined force to move the country miles ahead rising from a mere agrarian society to a technology giant and one of the globally acknowledged best education system. Since her independence 100 years, Finland has continued to enjoy unbroken democracy.

With other great achievements in areas like education, healthcare, industry, among others Finland is renowned for its best ranking. Finns have over the decades enthusiastically cheered their ski jumpers, formula drivers, architects, composers and singers – while remembering that any recognition must only give cause for brief exhilaration, before setting one’s sight on the next task.

On the 6th of December 2017 – the official independence day of the Nordic country, Finns and friends of Finland across the world, celebrated the country’s centenary anniversary. The 100th year anniversary preparation was said to have taken a whole year to be put in place. And a celebration that has been described as one of the special independent celebrations the country has ever witnessed. With a theme ‘Together’, the Finland’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury noted that the centenary celebrations are a result of many joint efforts, and the message is that all hands are needed in building and taking forward a nation and a people.

Stating that the story of the 100-year-old Finland is both ordinary and extraordinary, the Ambassador noted that it “rests on the values and practice of equality, education, good governance, and hard work. The anniversary which took place in the capital city of Helsinki and elsewhere across the globe held in the midst of winter darkness. And the country and its monuments were illuminated with blue and white lights, the colours that all Finns feel nostalgic and patriotic about.

Joyful activities brought both citizens and friends of Finland together as the country’s best singers and dancers gave their best during the celebration, even as the nation’s favourite sport ice hockey got its own special celebration. Finns known to be the biggest coffee drinkers in the world, the centenary celebrations afforded the whole country a moment of coming together to enjoy a cup of coffee to mark the occasion.

According to the Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria, part of the activities marking the anniversary was a project tagged ‘CodeBus Africa’. And that four Nigerian public schools benefited from the project that focused on encouraging girls into computer coding. “The anniversary year has been a particularly active one. It was kicked off already in February, with the ‘CodeBus Africa’ project that focused on encouraging girls into computer coding. Students from four local public schools learned how to produce music through coding during this activity that the Embassy of Finland, together with its local partner Ventures Platform, brought to Nigeria, as part of a project that took place in ten African countries”, she said.

Suomela-Chowdhury said that the highlight of the year was the visit of the country’s Foreign Trade and Development Minister, Kai Mykkänen to Nigeria with over 20 companies in November, just a few weeks before the Independence Day. “In a few activity packed days, the delegation had lots of fruitful discussions on the many opportunities for cooperation, and met a host of local companies”. According to the envoy, the minister and the companies were very satisfied with the results, and came out of the visit with concrete plans for the future.

Along with Finnish Embassies across the world, the Embassy in Abuja hosted an Independence Day reception on 6 December, to honour the day, the many friends that Finland has in Nigeria, and the active and fruitful cooperation between Finland and Nigeria.