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10 May 2024

Harry and Meghan arrive in Nigeria to champion Invictus Games

10 May 2024

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived in Nigeria on Friday to champion the Invictus Games.

Harry founded the organisation to aid the rehabilitation of wounded and sick service members and veterans, among them Nigerian soldiers fighting a 14-year war against Islamic extremists.

Harry and Meghan, visiting the West African nation for the first time on the invitation of its military, arrived in the capital, Abuja, early in the morning, according to defence spokesman Brigadier General Tukur Gusau.

This engagement with Invictus is giving us the opportunity for the recovery of our soldiers

They will be meeting wounded soldiers and their families in what Nigerian officials have said is a show of support to improve the soldiers’ morale and wellbeing.

“This engagement with Invictus is giving us the opportunity for the recovery of our soldiers,” Abidemi Marquis, the director of sports at Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters said.

Harry served in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner, after which he founded the Invictus Games in 2014 to offer wounded veterans and service members the challenge of competing in sports events similar to the Paralympics.

Nigeria was among the nations that participated in last year’s edition of the games.

During their stay, the couple will attend basketball and volleyball matches and will meet local non-governmental organisations in Abuja and Lagos that are receiving support from them.

Meghan will also co-host an event on women in leadership with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organisation, according to their spokesman Charlie Gipson.

The news of Meghan’s visit excited some in Nigeria where her life — and association with the British royal family — is closely followed.

The Nigerian military has touted the Invictus Games as one which could help the recovery of thousands of its personnel who have been fighting the homegrown Boko Haram Islamic extremists and their factions since 2009 when they launched an insurgency.

“80% of our soldiers that have been involved in this recovery programme are getting better (and) their outlook to life is positive,” Mr Marquis said.

“The recovery programme has given them an opportunity to improve their personal self-esteem, to improve their mental health and emotional intelligence.”

The couple visited the Lightway Academy college which receives support from their Archewell Foundation to educate and train young girls affected by conflicts in Nigeria.

The couple were greeted at the Abuja school by a dancing troupe and a crowd of excited students and teachers.

Student Nnenna Okorie could not hide her excitement at meeting the couple.

“She is the prettiest human being ever,” she said. “I admire her so much and then Harry. I love how he is so supportive.”

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