Nigerian Cultural Parade Photo by Joann Piguot

The city of Houston is gearing up for the fifth annual Nigerian Cultural Parade and Festival taking place in downtown Houston on Oct. 2nd to commemorate 61 years of Nigerian independence.

Houston is home to the second-largest Nigerian population in the United States and the diverse culture, language, cuisine, fashion, arts, entertainment, and history of Nigeria will be on full display.

The Nigerian Cultural Parade and Festival is the official Nigerian Independence Day event and the brainchild of local organizations, Culturally Naija and We Lead Inc. The motto is “No Passport Required”, giving locals in the Bayou City full access to a family-oriented and engaging cultural exchange.

(Left) Linda Ankwuem, executive director, We Lead Inc. and (Right) Jane Udoewa, founder and CEO of Culturally Naija

“Houston is a welcoming city for all international groups. It is a melting pot of different cultures and you can experience all of these cultures all without leaving the city, said Linda Anukwuem executive director of WeLead Inc. “In 2019 we experienced a peak of about 4,000 attendees. The audiences will have the opportunity to experience the traditional presentations that we are showcasing this year. We hope to continue to grow from that peak. We’ve added more security on ground, more vendors, and created a robust program that will include contests provided by our key sponsors.”

The parade and festival is the conclusion to a week-long celebration of activities which include an opening reception and Houston City Hall Lighting on Sept. 30th and a Masquerade Exhibition on Oct.1st.

Like many other large events all over the country, the preparation leading to the parade and festival had some significant changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year during the pandemic lockdown, the organizers of the Houston parade collaborated with organizers of the NYC Nigerian parade to host a virtual celebration to keep the momentum going with hopes of relaunching an in-person festival the following year. Now, they are implementing protocols for community health and safety.

“We spaced out the vendor marketplace, we plan to have hand sanitizing stations at different check-in locations, we’ve encouraged people to wear their masks, and there will be a section where attendees can take vaccinations on-site provided by one of the matriarchs of the Nigerian community,” said Jane Udoewa, founder and CEO of Culturally Naija.

One important aspect of this festival is its goal to support Houston’s economy and tourism sector with the presence of local businesses, vendors, and sponsorships. Some of their top sponsors are AiDEMoney, an African remittance service, and Wazobia African Market, one of Houston’s popular African grocery chains. Anukwuem says she hopes that showcasing Nigerian culture will encourage tourism in the country as well.

“We fought for the downtown Houston location because it’s a strategic location. We want to be on the main stage because ten years the parade and festival will be the main tourist attraction for the city of Houston.”

For more information visit: www.nigeriaculturalparade.com

View full schedule below: