Finland will today celebrate its 100th Independence anniversary in Nigeria and the world over.
Finland became an independent nation 100 years ago. While the centenary forms the perfect opportunity for a great big party, it’s also an occasion for contemplation and insight. The 100-year mark offers a chance for people to look back to understand the way the nation emerged, but also to gaze ahead to the future to see what Finland can still become. MATHEW DADIYA reports.
Starting in 1809 and up to independence, Finland formed an autonomous grand duchy in the Russian Empire. This proved to be an important time for laying the societal and administrative groundwork that allowed the Finns to break with Russia in 1917. Before 1809, the area that is now Finland had been under Swedish rule since at least the 13th century.
Finns and friends of Finland across the world will celebrate the milestone today (December 6, 2017), the official independence day of the country. The whole year, in fact, has been one of special anniversary celebrations, building up to that moment of culmination in December.
The story of the 100-year-old Finland is at the same time ordinary and extraordinary. It rests on the values and practice of equality, education, good governance, and hard work. The theme of the anniversary year is ‘Together’.
The centenary celebrations are a result of many joint efforts, and the message is that all hands are needed in building and taking forward a nation and a people.
For 100 years, Finns have engaged themselves in building their country. They have enjoyed the same period of unbroken democracy. They are proud of that, as they are of other achievements, whether in technology, education or elsewhere. Over decades, Finns have enthusiastically cheered their ski jumpers, formula drivers, architects, composers and singers while remembering that any recognition must only give cause for brief exhilaration, before setting one’s sight on the next task.
The Finland Ambassador to Nigeria, Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury, had in a statement said that in Finland, official anniversary celebrations will take place in the capital city, and elsewhere. In the midst of winter darkness, the country and its monuments will be illuminated with blue and white lights, the colours that all Finns feel nostalgic and patriotic about.
Joyful activities will bring people together. Singers will sing, dancers will dance, and the nation’s favourite sport ice hockey will get its own special celebration. As Finns happen to be the biggest coffee drinkers in the world, the whole country will also take a moment together, to enjoy a cup of coffee to mark the occasion.
The Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria says that in Nigeria, the anniversary year has been a particularly active one. “It was kicked off already in February, with the ‘CodeBus Africa’ project that focused on encouraging girls into computer coding. Students from four local public schools learned how to produce music through coding during this activity that the Embassy of Finland, together with its local partner Ventures Platform, brought to Nigeria, as part of a project that took place in ten African countries”.
The highlight of the year, according to Ambassador Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury, was the visit of Minister Kai Mykkänen to Nigeria in November, just a few weeks before the Independence Day. The Foreign Trade and Development Minister of Finland brought to Nigeria 20 companies. “In a few activity packed days, the delegation had lots of fruitful discussions on the many opportunities for cooperation, and met a host of local companies”. According to the Envoy, the Minister and the companies were very satisfied with the results, and came out of the visit with concrete plans for the future.
Along with Finnish Embassies across the world, the Embassy in Abuja will host an Independence Day reception on 6 December, to honour the day, the many friends that Finland has in Nigeria, and the active and fruitful cooperation between Finland and Nigeria.