As part of activities to mark the 59th Nigeria’s independence anniversary, Greensprings School, Lagos recently organised a National Day with the theme Xenophobia: A Cry for Unity.
The event, which was organised to create awareness among the students about the effects of xenophobia and the need to maintain a peaceful relationship with people from other tribes, religion, cultures, as well as with the international community, also featured cultural dance, drama, and a parade of students in their traditional attires.
Parents also brought their indigenous food and drinks, which were displayed so that students and other guests will have the opportunity to eat food from other tribes and savour the diversity of the country.
In his remarks, the Deputy Director of Education, Dr. Barney Wilson, said the school decided to focus on xenophobia, which is plaguing not only Africa, but the whole world.
According to him, xenophobia is really ignorance; making assumptions about people based on what one has been told, adding that as tomorrow’s leaders, students don’t have to hold on to their opinions about other tribes and countries based on what they were told.
“We are challenging our students to be independent in their thoughts; to be respectful of their answers; to chart a new way so that the economies can come together so that we can benefit from the love that we have for each other.”
He added that “when we discriminate, when we assume that we know; when we base our decisions on who is going to be included and excluded simply based on tribe or religion or colour, then we are not giving the world a chance to unify.”
As the country marks it independence, Wilson expressed hope that Nigeria continues to come together as one. As an African-American, I feel Africa is my motherland and so to come and see so many people fighting each other it is disheartening.
“So our call today is for unity and one Africa. That message is what the students, parents, management and staff have embraced. We want the community to know that Greensprings School is saying one Africa, unity, love each other, get to know each other, don’t make assumptions, come together, spend time with each other and learn to respect each other.”
He said the school expects the students to be better leaders tomorrow than the existing leaders today.
Some of the parents that spoke with THISDAY, said the annual national day helps the students to be aware about their country and when they participate in activities like dance and drama, they get to understand the culture of Nigeria.
They added that with this year’s theme of xenophobia, the students are more aware of what it is and how not to participate in xenophobia and the best behaviour they should put up as Nigerians.