New Vs. Old: Nigerian Anthem

Posted: October 3, 2011 in Itchy Fingers
Tags: , , ,

Ok, so I finally settled down after the long weekend I dashed myself all because of the independence day. It was a good weekend somewhat…biked like I never biked before in my life and vowed not to ever do it again, bought a cake and shared it with a treasure, kept an ear on alert to know if boko haram or MEND finally decided to give us free fireworks with considerable damage to celebrate the 51 years of the niger areas becoming Nigeria, you know, just stuff. And then, in my usual brainstorming that can carry me from thinking about gooey chocolaty cake to my mom’s lace hidden in one of her many boxes ( you know, random thoughts that just grow legs and fly) I finally stumbled upon something…The National Anthem. Both old and new. These are the lyrics to both:

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

Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign
In peace or battle honour
And this we count as gain
To pass unto 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

The old one. Written by Lillian Jean Williams and composed by Frances Berda. Sung by our fathers, our mothers, our teachers at the time when nationality was pride and brand new from 1960 to 1978…

Arise, O Compatriots,
Nigeria’s call obey
To serve our Fatherland
With love and strength and faith
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain,
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom,
Peace and unity.

Oh God of creation,
Direct our noble cause
Guide our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace
And justice shall reign.

The new one. Written by John A. Ikechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, Babatunde A. Ogunnaike, Sotu Omoigui and P. O. Aderogbu, five winners of a competition and composed by Benedict Odiase. Adopted in 1978, during the Military regime under the Obasanjo administration while making plans to hand over to Civilian Rule under Shehu Shagari. Sung by me, you, all who call Nigeria their home country.

But then, I dunno…maybe it’s me. Or do you get that feeling too when you read the words of the first national anthem and they seem stronger and hold on to the promises that where made when we first became Nigeria. I can actually hear my parents sing the old anthem and how the words strike gold because they finally had Nigeria in their hands. They actually had a sense of nationality and deep long history with every word that was written and sung. As they pass by the green-white-green flag, they remember the day the Union Jack was finally lowered at Lokoja and their motherland was finally an equal with the colonial masters. The pride in the air was so thick, strong, resilient people finally  knowing where they stand and what they fight for…

Skip ahead 51 years later…

Kids, playing around underneath dirth piece of cloth strung up a flag pole. The green-white-green struggles to lift itself in the wind as the soot, pollution and disregard of its citizens weighs it down. There is a video going round on the internet where a kid of God knows how old tears apart the national anthem. its a funny video, I wouldn’t lie. But if a kid like her could understand the meaning of the words she sang, she would have probably done a better job at it. She would have felt the pride of the teacher that taught her the song. But, she didn’t…Not because she didnt want to but because there was no pride in singing the song for the teacher him/herself.

At the time the new anthem came in, I believe that was when all pride of being one nation was taken over by greed and ethnicity. Everyone wanted to be in government. The Military had a taste of power and lets face it, who would want to let go of that kind of power and wealth that was at your disposal? if you had the magic-stick in your hand, you were a mini-god. There was disarray. No one knew what they were doing. All just wanted to be the one that the cap fits.

“What’s in it for me” became the rule of law. “Scratch my back and I scratch yours as long as we get rich” became the friendship of the day. And this trickled down to the masses and every individual on the streets. The high and mighty green-white-green was no longer a sight to behold.

The words ” To pass unto our children, A banner without stain” were left behind.

If words could cry, these words  “Help us to build a nation, Where no man is oppressed, And so with peace and plenty, Nigeria may be blessed” would shed tears of blood. The old pledge was left to die with no remorse and no guilt.

it’s such that even the verses “The labour of our heroes past, Shall never be in vain, To serve with heart and might, One nation bound in freedom, Peace and unity” are now empty vessels that make the loudest noise.

This is what we have been left with. Empty promises made on the foundation of broken promises…





  3. Temienor Ochuko says:

    May God help nigeria to undastand d meaning of peace and unity.

  4. It is high time we retrace our steps back to bring to birth anew a nation of our old nation anthem were we are proud to serve our sovereign motherland. To pass unto 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. Amen.

  5. Vocalis M O says:

    I am proud 2 b a citizen of nigeria


    The time of old when the country was peaceful and unified: The Lord’s restoration.

  7. Our old national anthem is a pray, vision and mission. An Anthem that you feel writen by the spirit of God. With my little findings, our new nation anthem contribute to our problem today. If you’re interested to know how, comment.

  8. amachree svr says:

    It has been said by ancient school that none are so blind as they that ( refuse ) to see. In the same vain I can safely say that none are so deceived as they that deceive themselves. May I also add that none are so fearful as they that deny truth. I was a young school leaver when I first heard the so called new national anthem. My literary appreciation and criticism would not allow me accept it. I kept wandering what abomination had been committed at high places to warrant an attempt to escape from a vow to hand over to our children a banner without stain. The prayers in the old and new anthems had changed to fading echos, i wander if anybody really pays any more attention to it. I am glad to notice that people reacted against this pleigarism and expressing thier minds several years after it was imposed. I am not surprised that things are not right in our country and think it will never be until we right things and do things right. what do you think?

  9. williamson says:

    i respect your views and i must commend you for them. But i think we should be proud that both the anthem and the flag are proudly Nigerian. In addition, the new anthem is short and easy to learn. As to your view, i’m sure this anthem is not of empty words despite how short it is and i believe that if anyone could treat these lyrics with contempt i can’t see how the former would be an exception. Thank You

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