On Tuesday, May 16, the Embassy held its annual reception in honour of Israel’s Independence Day in the capital city of Abuja. More than 700 guests attended the event, including government ministers, over 30 senators, governors, and senior religious leaders, including imams and heads of churches.
Pastor Adeboye, who heads the Redeemed Church, with over 40 million believers in Nigeria alone and millions more worldwide, graced the event with his presence. Adeboye postponed his flight to Israel by a day in order to attend the event. In addition, diplomats, senior business leaders, cultural figures, and members of the media were also present.
The event itself was divided into three parts – an exhibition that presented Israeli technology relevant to Nigeria, a reception, and a performance by “Tararam,” a creative ensemble of performing artists who produce extraordinary sounds from ordinary objects – a blend of rhythm, music, movement, and wit, interwoven with choreographed body drumming, amusing sounds, and theatrical antics.
In the main hall where the concert took place, the floor-to-ceiling walls were covered with huge display boards on which Israeli technologies were displayed in order to show Israel’s ability to help the new government in Nigeria deal with the challenges it faces. The display boards focused on agriculture, security, human capital, economics, cyber, entrepreneurship, IFair, an entrepreneurial and innovation initiative of the Embassy of the State of Israel in Nigeria, and more.
In the second part of the evening, Ambassador Michael Freeman, Israel’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, spoke of Israel’s development on many levels in just 75 years. As a trigger for the speech, he used the original radio that his father and family listened to Ben-Gurion proclaim the State of Israel. Freeman discussed iFair and several other projects the embassy has in the pipeline.
During the event, the Embassy screened a film that it had produced that highlighted Israel-Nigeria relations, the enormous potential for advancing relations, and how the two countries can work together in the near future.
Later in the evening, the Israeli band Tararam performed together with two Israeli singers and a Nigerian singer who sang a number of songs, including a joint and moving performance of the song “Hallelujah” (versions by “Milk and Honey” and Leonard Cohen) and the national anthems.
In the third part of the evening, a reception was held. Here, too, the walls were covered with banners. This time, the banners displayed sites in Israel: the Mahane Yehuda market, where stands of Israeli food and wine were opened; the Tel Aviv beach, where apart from the sea and sand, there were sea chairs, paddles for beach tennis, beach towels, and a summer atmosphere, and of course the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where participants in the event could write virtual notes and place them at the Western Wall while promising that the embassy staff would take the messages to the actual Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The slogan of the reception was 3,4,5: 3,000 years of history. 4 minutes to book a ticket, and 5 hours to fly – all to promote Israel as a tourist, business, and medical tourism destination and, of course, to promote direct flights.
When the guests left the event, they received a large box of vegetables - inside the box, they found a flier that explained that the vegetables in the box were grown in Nigeria using Israeli technology and Israeli seedlings.