“Nigerian descendants in Caribbean seeking reconnection” — Ambassador Maureen Tanumo

A report by Tobi Aworinde for Punch.

The Ambassador-designate to Jamaica, Haiti, Belize and Dominican Republic, Dr Maureen Tanumo, has said Nigerians have ancestors in the Caribbean who are looking forward to finding and reconnecting with their African roots.

Tanumo, who was also appointed the Permanent Representative to International Seabed Authority, spoke during a two-day visit to the Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola; and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi between April 16 and 17.

According to a statement, the visit of the ambassador-designate to Oba Ogunwusi was part of activities to discuss issues of mutual relations and seek cooperation from the monarch, who is also a custodian of Yoruba and African culture and traditions.

The Rivers State native, who was said to have been entertained by traditional dancers from Ile Ife, thanked the Ooni for the invitation and the hospitality accorded her and her entourage, which she described as “overwhelming.”

She said, “Kabiyesi, I am thrilled to be here as the representative of Nigeria in the Caribbean and Jamaica on your invitation as the king of the black people.

“The Caribbean (people), especially those from the South-West, who were transported as slaves many years ago through Badagry in the South-West part of Nigeria, and Calabar, would be happy and also look forward to being associated with the people of Nigeria.

“So, we have (children of) ancestors over there waiting for us to connect. As a woman who believes in the tradition and culture of our people, I was glad when I was accorded this invitation by the Ooni of Ife to see and also know how to communicate with the people of the Caribbean.

“I have seen (them) and also been thrilled; I want to assure your Imperial Majesty that this story will go viral. As an ambassador of the black people, I am assuring you that I will let people know that the people of Ife hold the African culture in high esteem.”

She added that there were ongoing efforts towards Nigeria and Jamaica’s diplomatic cooperation.

In his response, Oba Ogunwusi, who named Tanumo ‘Adetamilore’ (meaning gift from the crown), assured the ambassador-designate of total cooperation to make her job easy

The Ooni added, “I am stating here that, as the representative of our country, you have been adopted as our daughter and we will continue to celebrate you and honour you.

“You are starting well. We are with you; God is with you and you are going to be the greatest Nigerian ambassador ever. God will continue to guide you. Amen.”

The statement described her visit to Oyetola as fruitful, saying the governor appreciated her and promised his utmost support.

It added, “Also, she has once again consolidated a pre-departure visit with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos.

“The courtesy call was essential to enable seamless communication in the progressive plans of Ambassador Tamuno to further expose the cultural splendour, heritage, trades and other institutional aspects of Lagos and Nigeria to investors and the world.

“Sanwo-Olu, who mentioned his delight in the visit, said the visit was well-timed and that he would ensure all avenues are exploited to make a reality of the topics discussed.”

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