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Group's drive to build museum picks up steam

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http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/...al/10446807.htm

MIAMI-DADE

Group's drive to build museum picks up steam

A Nigerian foundation in South Florida has started a campaign to raise money to create a Nigerian- American museum in the Miami area.

BY BRIGHTON WATAMBWA

[email protected]

The 3-year-old Nigerian-American Foundation has kicked off a $1 million fundraising campaign to build a multicultural and multipurpose museum within a year in the Miami area.

The drive received a $10,000 boost from well-wishers during the foundation's annual community forum held at the Marco Polo Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach on Dec. 11, foundation president G'Bola A. Ayodele said.

The gathering drew about 220 people, many dressed in colorful traditional Nigerian garb. They were treated to traditional African music, dance and food at the event designed by the foundation as a year-end celebration where people could meet and mingle.

Ayodele estimated about 10,000 Nigerians live in South Florida but said the foundation will do a more precise head count as part of its activities.

The foundation has asked the Nigerian government to donate funds for the museum, said Ayodele, who hopes local support also will be forthcoming.

A main objective of the foundation, said Ayodele, is to counter the dishonesty stereotype that haunts Nigerians as a result of financial scams that originate in Nigeria. It is important, he said, for Nigerians living in the area to work together and with people of other ethnicities because they all share ``common dreams, goals, aims.''

Nigerians in South Florida, Ayodele said, must build a stronger network among themselves, echoing the conference theme, ``Coming Together of Nigerian-Americans.''

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said by pulling together as a community, Nigerians would gain strength. He met on several occasions with members of the foundation before the Nov. 2 election that put him in office. At the forum, he thanked the group for its support during his campaign.

''The doors to the mayor's office will always be open to the NAF,'' Alvarez said.

A Nigerian government official echoed Ayodele's call for unity among Nigerians. Humphrey Orjiakor, minister for Political Affairs in the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, D.C., attended the NAF meeting on behalf of the Nigerian ambassador to the United States, George Obiozor.

Orjiakor delivered a message from the ambassador calling on Nigerians in the Diaspora to be united and conscious of what they can do to help their motherland.

''If we join hands as optimists and become part of the solution to Nigeria's many problems, rather than mere critics, I can assure you that, as individuals and groups, we have the the capacity to make a huge difference,'' the message read.

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