top of page


Bonjour mes amies!

Have you ever wondered the significance of a national anthem? I mean every country has one, so it must be pretty important right!


A National anthem is;

-A patriotic hymn or song adopted by a nation for use on public or state occasions

- Collins Dictionary

A national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.

- Wikipedia

So, from the definitions above, a national anthem is simply a song sung by people of common origin in respect for their history and identity.

We'll be comparing the anthems of France and Nigeria. They say, you can tell a lot about a nation through their anthem, lets take an in depth study of the two.

To tell the story of the Nigerian anthem, we have to start at the very beginning. ''Arise Oh Compatriots'' we sing today, wasn't always the sung anthem, there was one before it called ''Nigeria we hail thee'' NIGERIA WE HAIL THEE

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 Motherland.

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.

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.


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.

Oh 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

The first anthem ( Nigeria we hail thee) was composed before Nigeria got her independence in 1960 by a British expatriate, Frances Breda and rendered as an Independence gift to the nation by Lillian Jean Williams, who lived in the country at that time. Unfortunately, people began to speak up against the anthem, with many faulting its ''European Origin''.They simply couldn't understand how a country was to sing an anthem of freedom given by its very own colonial masters. A major voice that kicked against its use was the popular Nigerian Newspaper- Daily Service , run by Egbé Omo Òduduwá. They championed a rebellious campaign to ensure the discontinued use of the anthem, calling for signatures to a petition they raised against it. In 1978, a national contest was held by the National Publicity Committee to create a new National anthem. Out of the thousands of entries that were sent in, only 5 were short listed ( Sotu Omoigui, B.A Ogunnaike, John Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan and P.O Aderibigbe. Bits and Pieces of each writers original works were then pieced together to form ''ARISE OH COMPATRIOTS''

You know that feeling you get when you sing the French National anthem, the feeling of togetherness and boldness that emanates from your lungs as the words are breathed upon? Well, that's the spirit of the soldiers who sung it while marching off to war rising to the fore. #justkidding France's National anthem ''La Marseillaise'' was written in 1792 by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle after the mayor of Strasbourg expressed the need for a marching song for the French troops as a song of war during its war against Austria.

LA MARSEILLAISE Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé! Contre nous de la tyrannie L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis) Entendez-vous dans les campagnes Mugir ces féroces soldats? Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!

Aux armes, citoyens, Formez vos bataillons, Marchons, marchons! Qu'un sang impur Abreuve nos sillons!

The anthem was changed to “La Marseillaise” because of its popularity with volunteer army units from Marseille. The spirited song made an intense impression whenever it was sung at Revolutionary public occasions.

The anthem faced a series of acceptances and rejections as the Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed on July 14, 1795 but was banned by Napoleon during the empire and by Louis XVIII on the Second Restoration (1815) because of its Revolutionary associations. It was again authorized after the July Revolution of 1830 and then banned for a third time by Napoleon III and not reinstated until 1879.

The French anthem much like its Nigerian counterpart has been the subject of several debates and criticisms with many faulting its lyrics as vulgar and violent. However, a historian Simon Schama spoke on its merits during a radio interview shortly after the Paris attack of November 13, 2015 "... the great example of courage and solidarity when facing danger; that's why it is so invigorating, that's why it really is the greatest national anthem in the world, ever''. - Simon Schama

The original text of “La Marseillaise” had six verses, and a seventh and last verse (not written by Rouget de Lisle) was later added. Only the first and sixth verses of the anthem are customarily used at public occasions.


-What are your opinions on both anthems?

-Do you think the Egbé Omo Òduduwá group were right in calling for the discontinuation of the former anthem?

- Which of the two anthems do you think applies to present day Nigeria?

- Do you think the Nigerian anthem should be revised or kept as it is?

We'd love to hear from you, send in your answers to any of our social media platforms or email us -

- Tosin Adesina Sources,_We_Hail_Thee


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page