Old National Anthem of Nigeria

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The former or old national anthem of Nigeria, titled “Nigeria, we hail thee“, was composed by Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate who as at then lived in Nigeria.

The anthem was adopted on October 1st 1960 during the celebration of Nigeria’s independence. Its music was composed by another Briton named Frances Berda. Below is the lyrics of Nigeria’s old national anthem.

Old National Anthem Of Nigeria

Stanza 1

Nigeria we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood we stand,
Nigerians all, and proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.

Stanza 2

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.

Stanza 3

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.

However, the old national anthem of Nigeria faced many criticisms one of which was its composer not being a Nigerian. The Daily Service, a newspaper run by a political organization, Egbé Ọmọ Odùduwà, even launched a rebellious campaign against the national anthem which led to a committee being established to collect signatures as a petition.

“Nigeria, we hail thee” ceased to be the national anthem of Nigeria in 1978 after it was replaced by a new one composed by Ben Odiase, an Assistant Commissioner of Police and the then Director of Music of the Nigerian Police Band.

The new Nigeria’s national anthem was titled “Arise, O Compatriots” and is still in use till today.

References:

Mphahlele, Ezekiel (1960). “Nigeria on the Eve of Independence”. Africa Today.How Nigeria’s Independence was Celebrated on Saturday, 1st of October, 1960: Teslim O. Omipidan; OldNaija

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