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Why I Won’t Sing the New National Anthem

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Lekan Ajayi

The introduction of Nigeria’s new national anthem has been met with a flurry of emotions across the nation. While many see it as a progressive step forward, I find myself unable to embrace it fully. Here’s why I won’t be singing the new national anthem.

The old national anthem, “Arise, O Compatriots,” is not just a song. It is a solemn reminder of our shared history and the sacrifices of those who fought for Nigeria’s independence and unity.

The lyrics, rich with historical significance, evoke a sense of duty and honour that has been ingrained in me since childhood. To abandon it feels like turning my back on the very essence of our national identity and the struggles that defined us.

There is a deep, personal connection to the old anthem. It has been a part of my life, from school assemblies to national events. Each time I sang it, I felt a profound sense of belonging and pride.

The melody and words are etched into my heart, bringing back memories of times when, despite our differences, we stood together as one nation. The new anthem, while modern and inclusive, does not stir the same emotions or evoke the same memories.

The old anthem’s call to action—“The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”—is a powerful reminder of the work we must continue. It speaks to a collective responsibility, a call to honour the past while building a better future.

The new anthem, with its focus on innovation and diversity, feels like an attempt to appeal to contemporary sensibilities at the expense of these foundational values.

National symbols like anthems are meant to provide a sense of continuity. They are touchstones that link generations, offering stability in an ever-changing world.

The decision to change the anthem feels abrupt and dismissive of the continuity that helps bind our national identity. It suggests that the progress we seek must come at the cost of our past, a notion I fundamentally disagree with.

National anthems should grow organically out of shared experiences and collective emotions. The old anthem, with its simplicity and depth, does this naturally. Some may argue that resistance to the new anthem is merely an aversion to change.

However, this is not about resisting change for the sake of it. It’s about maintaining a connection to something that feels authentically Nigerian. Change is inevitable, but not all change is beneficial. We must carefully consider what we gain and what we lose in the process.

Instead of hastily adopting a new anthem, we should have engaged in a more profound national dialogue about what our anthem means to us and what it should represent. This new anthem might resonate with some, but for many of us, it feels imposed rather than chosen.

While I respect the intentions behind the new national anthem and acknowledge that it may inspire a new generation of Nigerians, I cannot bring myself to sing it. For me, the old anthem is a treasure trove of memories, values, and a sense of identity that the new one cannot replace.

My refusal to sing the new anthem is not a rejection of progress but a heartfelt plea to honor and preserve the legacy that defines us as Nigerians.

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