Thursday, 22 December 2016


The old national anthem was written by LILLIAN JEAN WILLIAMS, A British expatriate who lived in Nigeria. She wrote the wordings and the music was composed by Frances Brenda. The anthem ran from October 1, 1960 - September 30, 1978. The anthem:


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


In the First Republic, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe had asked Prof. Fela Sowande, an international songwriter and renowned guru of Modern Nigerian Art Music, to compose a new anthem, but it turned out that the anthem was judged to be too easy, so it was not approved.

Benedict Odiase who composed Arise O compatriots

Benedict Odiase in old age

In the late 60's there were several calls to change the national anthem, for example check the attached newspaper report, Daily Times Newspaper Monday, September 2, 1968 page 5 with the headline "We need a new national anthem". The demand continued until in 1978 when Head of State General Olusegun Obasanjo set up the Committee on the Draft Constitution/Return to Civilian Rule in Nigeria and its Publicity unit working hand in hand with the Federal Ministry of Information requested for entries for the National anthem.

Daily Times Newspaper Monday, September 2, 1968 page 5

My Dad, Mr. James Nkume was among the total of 1499 Nigerians that sent in entries. The current National anthem, 'ARISE, O Compatriots' was pieced together from the 5 best entries from Masses John Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B.A. Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui, and P.O. Aderibigbe.

My Dad, Mr. James Nkume's letter of acknowledgment on the new anthem

The music of the anthem was composed by Benedict Elide Odiase, a Nigeria composer and an Assistant Commission of Police, he was also the then Director of Music of the Nigerian Police Band. Odiase was born in 1935, he grew up in the defunct Bendel State. He died on June 12, 2013, at the age of 79. The anthem came into effect on October 1, 1978 and still runs:

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.

O God of Creation 
Direct our noble cause 
Guide thou 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.

Dr. Raphael James: "I love Nigeria what about you"?

No comments:

Post a comment