NIGERIA’S diaspora community in the UK has held the first ever multi-faith at a special event over the weekend where a Church of England clergyman and an imam from the Camberwell Mosque came together to pray for those lost to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Titled An Interfaith Community Service and Reception, the event was put together by the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (Canuk) and took place at the St Olaves Church hall in north London on Saturday August 7. Venerable Tunde Roberts, the vicar in charge of St Olaves Church and Alhaji Abdulhakeem Omotosho from the Camberwell Mosque both ministered at the event.
Dignitaries who attended the event included Mrs Saliat Ishola, the wife of the Nigerian high commissioner to the UK, Taiwo Osunaiye, the first secretary to the high commission and Kate Osamor, the Member of Parliament for Edmonton. Community leaders in attendance included former Canuk chairmen Chief Bimbo Afolayan and Dr Boma Douglas, former chairman of the Nigerian Council of Elders Chief Adebayo Oladimeji.
Several councillors including the likes of Susan Fajana-Thomas, Kate Anolue and Sade Etti, as did representatives of several associations like Vivienne Orieke, the secretary of the Itshekiri Congress UK; Olaoluwa Ogunriade, the vice president of Ondo Union UK and Toyin Eweje, the vice president of Ibadan Oluyole Union UK. Sponsors of the event included Tropical Sun, Mobihealth, World Remit and Ades Supermarket.
Canuk chairman Ayo Akinfe, said: “We held this service to honour all those community heroes we lost over the last year-and-a-half. While this pandemic has raged, the Nigerian community UK has lost so many precious lives to the cold hands of death and it is only right that we gather to honour them.
“Given the large number of Nigerians working in the frontline of the National Health Service (NHS), our community has been hit disproportionately as many brave and heroic health-workers have borne the full brunt of the pandemic. In addition, we also lost a lot of our people to illnesses or ailments made more complicated due to Covid-19.”
In his sermon Alhaji Omotosho said that there was no need for division among Christians and Muslims as all Nigerians needed to do was to obey God’s commandments and be good to their fellow men. Venerable Roberts added that the concept of an inter-faith service was a great one as it was a way of remembering all the dead, who all had different faiths.
Kate Osamor MP, said that Parliament would be pressing the government for an enquiry as to why so many Black NHS workers were exposed to the pandemic. Dr Douglas added that the service should be used to appreciate one another as many of the departed were hale a hearty just a few days before they passed away.
Chief Afolayan added that the fact that a Christian and Muslin clergyman could come together to pray should be an eye opener to all diasporans. He stressed that it should make them eschew their differences be it ethnic, religious or political and speak with one voice as Nigerians in the UK.