"Nigeria We Hail Thee": How British Woman, Lillian Jean Williams, Won Prize for Writing Old Anthem

"Nigeria We Hail Thee": How British Woman, Lillian Jean Williams, Won Prize for Writing Old Anthem

  • The lyrics of the national anthem, ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’ was written in 1959 by a British woman, Lillian Jean Williams
  • The federal government awarded Williams, an expatriate who lived in Nigeria at the time of independence, a prize
  • A ballet musician, Frances Berda, composed the music for the lyrics around the same period and won £1,000

Legit.ng journalist Adekunle Dada has over 5 years of experience covering metro and government policy

FCT, Abuja - President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has reverted to the old national anthem, ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’, 48 years after it was dropped for “Arise, O Compatriots”.

Tinubu signed the bill into the law after Senate and the House of Representatives previously passed the legislation at separate sittings.

British Woman, Lillian Jean Williams won prize for writing old anthem "Nigeria We Hail Thee"
"Nigeria We Hail Thee": Lillian Jean Williams wrote the lyrics while Frances Berda composed the music Photo credit: Nigerian Senate
Source: UGC

As reported by Premium Times, a British woman, Lillian Jean Williams, wrote the lyrics of the anthem, ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’ in 1959

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Williams, an expatriate who lived in Nigeria at the time of her independence was awarded a prize for writing the anthem lyrics by the federal government.

Another woman and ballet musician, Frances Berda, won £1,000, for composing the music for the lyrics around the same period.

“Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” which was adopted as Nigeria’s first national anthem upon gaining independence in 1960 was later dropped in 1978 because it was British-brewed and did not include any Nigerian input.

The late famous South African literary icon Ezekiel Mphahlele, said Nigerians criticised the choice of adopting an anthem written and composed by two foreigners.

Mphahlele stated this in an article titled ‘Nigeria on the Eve of Independence in Africa Today’ published in September 1960.

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“In the name of independence, the winning entries should have been chosen from the 500 entries that came from Nigerians themselves. Others again argued that the music should have been composed first and then the lyrics fitted to it instead of the other way round.”

The military administration of Olusegun Obasanjo later replaced the British-brewed anthem with “Arise, O Compatriots”.

John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, Babatunde A. Ogunnaike, O Sota Omoigui and P. O. Aderibigbe wrote the lyrics of ‘Arise O Compatriots’ in 1978 while the Nigerian police band, under the directorship of B. E. Odiasse, composed the music in 1990.

Tinubu, lawmakers sing old national anthem

Legit.ng earlier reported that video of members of the national assembly signing the old national anthem, ‘Nigeria, we hail thee’ has surfaced online.

The lawmakers alongside President Tinubu sang the the old national anthem for the first time on Wednesday, May 29.

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President Tinubu signed the National Anthem Bill 2024 into law to replace the national anthem from “Arise, O Compatriots” with “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.”

Proofread by Kola Muhammed, journalist and copyeditor at Legit.ng

Source: Legit.ng

Adekunle Dada avatar

Adekunle Dada (Politics and Current Affairs Editor) Adekunle Dada is a journalist with over 5 years of working experience in the media. He has worked with PM News, The Sun and Within Nigeria before joining Legit.ng as a Politics/Current Affairs Editor. He holds a B.Sc. in Mass Communication from Lagos State University (LASU). He can be reached via adekunle.dada@corp.legit.ng.

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