PRETORIA - Organisers of the Nigerian Community Excellence Awards in South Africa are seeking to change the narrative around their citizens.
The awards, spanning cultural and academic categories, honour Nigerians doing exceptional things in their second home.
Olaniyi Abodedele from The Voice says the Nigerian Community Excellence Awards seek to dispel negative connotations about Nigerians and acknowledge those who are contributing positively to South African society.
"We need to begin to tell our own narrative, let South Africans know who we are outside the negative news, we want to showcase role models for young South Africans and young Nigerians,” Abodedele said.
The awards have been held for the past three years and this year it included a special new award, the 'Outstanding Friend of Nigeria in South Africa'.
“A South African doctor based in Mpumalanga won that award, this is someone who knows about Nigerian clothes and food, and we need to identify such people,” Abodedele said.
Some winners see the awards as a golden opportunity to be acknowledged in their second home, South Africa.
“There is no small award, every award comes with its uniqueness and it tells you are actually contributing to society," said academic award winner Dr Onoriode Collins Potokri.
South Africa-Nigeria relations have had some challenges, but these awards are a positive way to encourage interaction and social cohesion while celebrating excellence in South Africa.