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Nigerian Independence Day and Black History Month's start marked by Town Hall flag raising

PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 October 2019

The Black History Month flag flies at Barking Town Hall. Picture: Jon King

The Black History Month flag flies at Barking Town Hall. Picture: Jon King

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Nigerian Independence Day and the start of Black History Month have been marked by two flag raising ceremonies.

About 20 people watched the Nigerian flag raised at Barking Town Hall to mark the African country's independence day. Picture: Jon KingAbout 20 people watched the Nigerian flag raised at Barking Town Hall to mark the African country's independence day. Picture: Jon King

The flags flew at Barking Town Hall on Tuesday, October 1, to mark 59 years since Africa's most populous country gained independence from the British Empire and the start of a month of borough-wide heritage celebrations.

About 30 councillors, local authority staff and members of Barking and Dagenham's Nigerian community sheltered from the rain listening to speeches before the green and white flag was raised to the singing of the national anthem.

Cllr Sade Bright said: "Happy Independence Day wherever you are. Please celebrate Nigeria. It is the giant of Africa."

The crowd heard that people of Nigerian heritage make up the largest black, Asian and minority ethnic community in the borough.

About 30 people braved the rain to see the Black History Month flag raised at Barking Town Hall on Tuesday, October 1. Picture: Jon KingAbout 30 people braved the rain to see the Black History Month flag raised at Barking Town Hall on Tuesday, October 1. Picture: Jon King

On what it meant to see the raising of the flag, the colours of which represent Nigeria's natural wealth and peace, Olu Oye-Bamgbose said: "This is an historic and memorable day. It is a day of joy to see our flag raised."

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Soon after, the Black History Month (BHM) flag sailed up the flagpole following speeches from Cllr Lynda Rice and deputy leader, Cllr Saima Ashraf.

Cllr Rice said: "This event marks our commitment to the history and rich culture of black communities in our borough and around the world.

"Barking and Dagenham is home to 130 cultures and our strength lies in our diversity."

She went on to describe a few upcoming events including a celebration of black Muslim women at The Hive, Women's Centre in Victoria Road and an international soul food festival at Barking Learning Centre.

Cllr Ashraf described it as a privilege to be at the ceremony adding that the borough has come a long way in fighting racism and hatred.

"We are a borough of hope and aspiration. It is our mission to tackle hate in all forms and celebrate our diversity," she said.

Natasha Mukandori, who moved to Barking from Rwanda in 2004, said afterwards: "I'm so excited by the Black History Month events and am especially looking forward to singing at the women's group event on the 31st at Hedgecock Community Centre."

For full details of BHM events visit the council's website.

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