First Nigerian National Anthem

From the point in time when Britain intruded into the affairs and colonized Nigeria, it became the passion of every Nigerian to know freedom, it was understood to the letter what is meant by ‘justice’. It was this passion which kept them in brotherhood, and caused them to wake a sleeping dog by restoring independence to the state of Nigeria eventually in 1960—an action that has proven to be most singular in the history of the country.

The sounds of victory drums sounded without fading, spirits were high; allegiance and loyalty were pledged to hoist the white-green flag under the sun and in the rain. Then an anthem was adopted—“Nigeria, We Hail Thee”. The lyrics of this anthem as written by Lillian Jean Williams, a Briton who resided in the country then, are as follows:

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 native land.

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.

One Nigeria

O God of all creation,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppresses,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigerians may be blessed.

Composed by Frances Berda, this anthem was only to last 18 years and by 1978 it was replaced by the popular “Arise, O Compatriots” composed by Benedict Odiase. Indeed, one observes that both anthems have the same blood of dedication flowing through their lines; however, many are of the opinion that the former anthem commanded a stronger spirit of sacrifice and commitment, virtues that were generously exhibited by our founding fathers.

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