‘Nigeria we hail thee.’ That is how the original Nigerian anthem began; my mum always preferred that version; probably because she grew up singing it and could identify with it. I recently looked up this version, the one she would sing from memory with a smile on her lips and a glint in her eyes. It often seemed to me that when the subject of the national anthem would come up, she reflected on a Nigeria when times were better and when the future could only be brighter. I read the old version I began to feel something I had never felt with the ‘arise’ version! I felt a pride and a hope, it seemed foreign to me. I was proud to be a Nigerian, I smiled and I easily began to recognise why my mother prefers that version. Let me tell you why.
The first stanza of that anthem celebrates Nigeria, as a country of diversity that celebrates brotherhood, and believes in love. It hails Nigeria as our ‘Motherland’, reminding us that though we are different, we are still Nigerian. However, that may depend on your political view following the British Colonial Masters merging North and South in 1914, creating a country called Nigeria! Yes Nigeria is really over 100 years old as a country.
‘Our Flag shall be our symbol’. Yes! The Nigerian flag! Not online scams or our renowned politicians!
When we finally gained our independence in 1960, we were given a National anthem! A British expatriate wrote the anthem, just as our flag took its place on the flagpole and the British flag was lowered for good. The second stanza uses the flag to symbolize hope. It celebrates the hope, that the children of the future will have a place to call home. A place that is synonymous with truth and justice, honour and peace.
‘Help us to build a nation where no man is oppressed’. This remains a hope for today, that we may be proud to call Nigeria a country where everyone has a fighting chance. Where the system was not against them, a place where they could believe in the beauty of their dreams.
[Tweet “Help us to build a nation where no man is oppressed”]
This anthem is a powerful one that requires reflection. Yet, I acknowledge the need the powers at be felt, urging them to change it. It wasn’t written by a Nigerian, and so in 1978, Arise O Compatriots took its place. It is a good anthem, but I suggest you read ‘Nigeria we hail thee’ as well.
“Nigeria, we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood we stand,
Nigerians all are proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.
Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honour’d,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.
O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.”
Reflecting upon these beautiful affirmations of love and pride for Nigeria, I began to think about what my heart thought about my beautiful country. And I realized, that I am actually country proud! I love that Nigerians can turn anything into a party. I love that if you look for excellence anywhere in the world, you will find a Nigerian at the top. I love that we have a desire and a drive to excel. I love that we are trend setters, and have paved the way for many other African countries to follow. Last but not least, I love our food. My favourite? Amala and Gbegiri (I’m an Ibadan girl!) We may complain and protest about our Motherland, but there has to be at least one thing you love about it! Something you smile about each time you reflect. Let today be a day of celebration! Of happiness! Let us not complain today! But instead let us rejoice that we can call Nigeria our homeland!
As you celebrate 55 years of independence, share below a few things that makes you country proud! Enjoy this video by Cue! God bless Nigeria.
Until next time!
Dami loves Nigeria