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Timi Dakolo Is In The Spotlight Again…For The Right Reasons.

On May 29, a bill to resurrect the old national anthem formally passed in Nigeria’s legislature after being given presidential nod. Thus, “Arise O Compatriots” is out and “Nigeria we Hail thee” is the “new” national anthem.


Unsurprisingly, the move drew the ire of Nigerians, not least because of the prioritizing of a harmless 50-year-old two-stanza song over pressing socio-economic issues but, mostly, because of the colonial undertones.


You see, the previous and now canonized national anthem of Nigeria was composed by Frances Berda and Lillian Jean Williams in 1959, just in time for the nation’s independence a year later. It remained the national soundtrack until 1978 – in the heat of Pan-Africanis – when John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B. A. Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui and P. O. Aderibigbe’s “Arise O Compatriots” found favor.


Timi Dakolo
Timi Dakolo

Enter Timi Dakolo’s 2011 track, “Great Nation” from the archives. What initially started out as a whisper has grown into a chorus to give the song a chance.


Notably, Adekunle Gold has been one of the major champions of this movement. On his X handle, he questioned, “No one thought Timi Dakolo’s Great Nation makes a better anthem?”


Agreements with Adekunle were almost universal, although there were fears from @_safety_1 that the powerful lyrics could ignite protests, or tears from the public as suggested by @ill_nojie. Even Timi Dakolo himself subtly concurred with his tweet, “Nigeria is indeed a great nation.”


Timi Dakolo
Timi Dakolo

A mere glance at the first stanza of the song, and it’s easy to see why it struck a chord:


Here we stand as a people

With one sing, with one voice

We’re a nation undivided and poised

We will take a stand and build our land

With faith to defend what is ours..


If it had been adopted, it could be the first national anthem born in the Gen Z or millennial era, and the first to actually recognize modern sensibilities without undermining national pride.


So, while the politicians may have fumbled the ball with their nostalgic move, the public seems ready to rally behind Timi Dakolo’s “Great Nation.” And who knows? Maybe it’s time for a national anthem that reflects the aspirations and unity of today’s Nigeria.


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