Anthony Joshua, the world heavyweight champion gave a rousing speech in London in front of the Royal Family in which he spoke about his Yoruba roots and Nigerian heritage at the Commonwealth Day celebration service held at Westminster Abbey.
My name is Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua and like many of you here, I’m a child of the Commonwealth.
“I was born in Watford and my heritage is Nigerian.
“I come from the Yoruba people who are the largest and some might say the loudest ethnic group in all of Africa.
“I am proudly Nigerian and I am proudly British.
“I join a long line, perhaps too long to count, of UK citizens of Commonwealth origin who’ve made enormous contributions to this great, multicultural society of ours.
“In my world, that would include names such as Joshua Buatsi, Lawrence Okolie and Ramla Ali
“Like me, so many children of the Commonwealth have two homes, two identities, two cultures and two ways of viewing the world. Some even have more than two.
“These days we hear so much about division and difference that some might be tempted to see that as a bad thing.
“But on the contrary, it’s a beautiful thing, a thing to be celebrated and cherished – and a great source of peace and stability.”
Joshua said as a society, the Commonwealth – must work harder to move forward as one, removing all sense of division across the Commonwealth.
“I feel opportunity should be there for the taking along with hard work, dedication and perseverance regardless of one’s background.
“We need to strive harder collectively in order to create unity.
“It takes a village to raise a child and in the same vein it takes a whole community to stand together to tackle some of the challenges we are confronted with today.
“In the same way boxing gave me the opportunity and framework to become Olympic champion, Commonwealth champion and now heavyweight champion of the world.
“I ask myself, ‘what does the Commonwealth really mean?’
“The second part of that word is key for me – a united, common future could create opportunities for our Commonwealth cousins.
He concluded his rousing speech by toasting to the Commonwealth, using his favuorite meals as symbolisms.
“So, here’s to fish and chips and egusi soup and pounded yam, to the UK and Nigeria and to the children of the Commonwealth,” Joshua said.
The service was attended by the head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, as well as its Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland and other dignitries and top royalties as well.