When the Independence Day of Nigeria comes, the whole country celebrates it. 58 years ago, Nigeria gained independence from the colonial government and finally became a free state. However, the journey towards this freedom was long and every Nigerian should know about it.
Nigerian Independence day history in brief
Just as many other countries of the African continent, Nigeria experienced many years of colonial regime of European countries. Due to the specific features of the African technical and cultural development, most tribes could not oppose Europeans with their guns, war ships and other weapons. This is why the locals were eventually subdued by white colonial powers quite easily.
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Colonization on the continent brought many cultural effects. Local religions, traditions and culture were oppressed and replaced by European ones.
No wonder that one day local tribes started to think of freedom. Actually, the very first day of the colonization was the beginning of the rebellion. It grew for many years until there appeared strong spirits who were able to lead others and conduct the struggle for freedom.
Somewhere between 1922 and 1959 Nigerians began to agitate for freedom after so many years of the British rule. Some famous and courageous men started struggling for the awakening of the Nigerian national spirit. It was an unexpected turn for the British colonists and they started to think about the ways of regaining control over the colonized lands.
For instance, they created several new constitutions that were supposed to calm down people’s rebellious moods. However, all these steps were not effective enough to make people forget about their life under the colonial rule and calm down their intention to have freedom.
On October 27, 1958, the United Kingdom came to a conclusion that it would be better for Nigeria to become an independent state. At midnight on October 1960, Nigeria became independent and a new flag was created to replace the Union Jack. The national anthem was changed, too. “God Save the Queen” was no longer welcomed. It was replaced with “Nigeria We Hail Thee.”
The new rule after Nigeria independence
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The first Prime Minister after the Independence of Nigeria was Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. In 1963, when Nigeria was declared a republic, the new President was Nnamdi Azikiwe, previously a Governor General. Jaja Wachuku was the first African to be the speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives. Simultaneously, he received the Freedom Charter – the famous Nigerian Instrument of Independence.
Nigeria independence history
The history of pre-colonial Nigeria dates back to 11,000 BC and there’s a hypothesis that some settlements were created even earlier. The pre-historic tribes developed in their own way, gradually forming up the current ethnic groups, which can be met in Nigeria today.
Before the British came and colonized the land, there were several independent kingdoms and states. They lived as neighbors up to the moment when Europeans came and started to reconstruct everything to meet their demands and to rearrange life, as they wanted it to be.
Before the British arrived, even in 1600’s, the coastal Nigerian areas used to trade with Europeans. They sold people (as slaves to be taken to America) and when slavery was abolished, they started trading palm oil and other goods for the goods and products brought by Europeans. Yet, it soon ended because British people started to conquer the ancient lands and establish their rules.
In 1851, Lagos was taken and turned into a colony by 1861. In 1884, Calabar became the protectorate capital and remained up to 1906. In 1897, the Empire of Benin collapsed, too, and also turned into a colony.
On January 1, 1901, all the lands that were already under the protectorate of the British Empire were joined into several colonies: the Colony of Lagos, the Niger Coast, and the Northern Protectorate. For further simplicity, the Colony of Lagos and Niger Coast were amalgamated in 1914.
This is how the Nigeria of today was created. The name was coined in 1897 by Flora Shaw. She just took the name of the biggest river in the area and created a name for the new country.
Nigeria Independence Day celebrations
The Independence Day is an official holiday for the entire country and all the existing 36 states of Nigeria celebrate it. As a rule, everything starts with the live broadcast of the President’s speech dedicated to all the citizens. The President's speech, is usually followed by the armed forces parade.
Everybody remembers those who dedicated their lives and efforts to Independence and honors the memory of the dead.
Since there are many ethnic and cultural events during the celebrations, the holiday is also a perfect time to do some cultural exchange between the representatives of different ethnic groups. After all, it helps people feel that they are united, that they are the same strong, rich nation, which is on its way to further development.