She is a bridge between Mexico and Nigeria, and someone coined the term ‘Mexgerian’ to describe her passion which wells from deep within her soul. The word is a brilliant metaphor underlining her love for the country, and she is a living link between Mexican and Nigerian cultures. An environmentalist and sustainable development expert, she graduated BSc Biology (First Class). The Mexican government awarded her the Ohtli Award for 2016 in recognition of her outstanding and pioneering role in the promotion of Mexico-Nigerian cultural relations. In Nigeria, easily her favorite topic, she exclaims in a childlike manner ‘It’s so easy to fall in love with Nigeria. I want to be here forever.’
Marriage to Goke Adegoroye, a former federal permanent secretary, brought Maria Salinas Adegoroye to Nigeria. Her fondness for Nigeria is captured in the fact that each December she organizes the Nigeria –Mexicana Christmas party which has been hosted in Akure, Ondo state since 2008. It involves a procession highlighting the problematic journey by Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Costumes, masks, a manager and a 40 feet tall Christmas tree enhance the celebration, which animates the part of Akure where it holds. The celebration of Christmas in Mexico merges with the traditional festivity in Akure, to form a dazzling Christmas event, appealing to children and adults alike.
Some years ago, Maria initiated the ‘Nigeria for one day project’ for the spouses of Ambassadors in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. The aim is to encourage the wives to dress, act and intuit like Nigerians, for one day. The women present always thrill to the idea. Imagine all the spouses dressed in Nigerian female attire, with matching shoes, bags, and earrings, eating Nigerian meals and enjoying Nigerian drinks for one day.
Last year she opened a Mexican restaurant in Abuja, the first of its kind in the city. It presents unique furnishings and aesthetics, suitably attired staff, and it is well lit. The restaurant also has a shop where Mexican cultural items are on sale. Guests will enjoy a Mexican meal, and then buy an item of Mexican culture to take home. It is an unforgettable place because there you learn while you dine. The conservation and environmental education of school children in Obudu, Cross Rivers State, as well as in Ondo state in the years 2003-2004 is another example of her work.
Long before Maria set foot in Nigeria, two Mexican clairvoyants told her that her destiny lay in a distant land. Many people in Mexico were already describing her as an African, even though she hadn’t yet visited the continent. Her husband recalls ‘In Mexico, on at least three different occasions, some clairvoyants had predicted that her destiny lay very far away.’ In coming to Nigeria, she has found that distant land once seen by the clairvoyants. She confesses ‘If you haven’t been to Nigeria, then you haven’t seen Africa yet.’
By Tadaferua Ujorha
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