Adefarasin Defends 1960 National Anthem, Calls for Unity, Patriotism

Pastor Wale Adefarasin, the pastor of the Guiding Light Assembly and former Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), has voiced his support for the recently reintroduced 1960 national anthem. During a Zoom media chat organized by the Network of African Christian Journalists (NACJOURN), Adefarasin expressed his preference for this anthem over the 1978 version, which he described as having a military flavor. He addressed criticisms of the 1960 anthem and discussed its potential to foster unity and patriotism.

Adefarasin dismissed claims that the 1960 anthem was imposed by colonialists. “I found an article in the Daily Times in the 19th century, 1959, inviting people to enter a competition to write. There were often the reward of a thousand pounds which I show you was a lot of money in those days and there was a panel. I think about five people and most of them were Nigerians who adjudicated and determined which was the best anthem to go for. So it wasn’t an anthem they imposed on us by the colonialists,” he explained.

He also addressed the irony in rejecting the anthem while embracing foreign-made products. “You know where people have criticized the anthem and said that my response that we don’t want to sing the anthem because it was written by the colonialists but we are quite happy to drive cars that were built by colonialists, built by Germans, built by Japanese, we wear watches and shoes made abroad. As a matter of fact today, in Nigeria we even used toothpicks that have come from abroad and we are contesting an anthem,” he remarked.

Adefarasin acknowledged that the terms “tribes” and “tongues” used in the anthem might have had derogatory connotations in the past, but he argued that their usage in the anthem was appropriate. “Even at the age of eight, I knew we had the different tribes. ‘Though tribes and tongues may differ in brotherhood we stand,’ whether you are from Ekiti or Kutuwenji we are one. The thing I see there is the use of ‘tribes and tongues’ and many have said they are colonial terms, yes the colonialists may have used this in a derogatory way in the past but the words tribes and native are not used in a derogatory way. The way they were used in the anthem is appropriate.”

Regarding the term “motherland,” Adefarasin shared his perspective: “The other word people are questioning is the word ‘motherland’ because in the other anthem, it was the word ‘fatherland’. You know as we grew up, we have more affiliations to our mothers. When I used to go to secondary school you could say what you could say to someone’s father but by the time you abused someone’s mother, that was big trouble so we’ve always been protective of our mothers because our mothers are the only ones we can say with assurance is our mother. I don’t see what’s wrong with ‘our motherland.'”

He emphasized the anthem’s focus on the youth and succession. “To hand on to our children a banner without stain…this line talks about succession. We have a responsibility to sustain our values, our nation, we can’t do that if we can’t inculcate our value, our vision in the people coming behind us.”

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Adefarasin also addressed Nigeria’s leadership problems, highlighting the need for younger leaders. “We have so many problems with our leadership today but right leadership, people are running for leadership in their 80s and 90s, today we see younger people in other climes taking up leadership and doing a great job. So, passing on to our children a banner without stain is very key.”

His favorite part of the anthem is the third stanza, which he considers a prayer for the nation. “My favorite is the third verse ‘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.’ It is a prayer and right in my view, it’s been relevant ever since 1960. We need to build this nation.”

Adefarasin criticized the 1978 anthem for its military influence, which he believes has harmed Nigeria. “Then to the new one, you know it came from the military government now let me say about the old outcome again that, you know Nigeria is not the only country whose anthem was written while the foreigners were in power. So let’s come to ‘Arise O Compatriots’. It sounds very military to me and I feel that the military interruption in our policy and our politics has done so much damage to Nigeria and it’s still doing damage because if you don’t realize it, they are lurking behind the scenes, they are there.”

In conclusion, Adefarasin stressed that singing the 1960 anthem with sincerity could inspire patriotism and love for the country. “So I feel that if we sing ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’ and sing it from our hearts, it will set up patriotism. It will serve love for our country which is what patriotism is.”

Report by Dayo Emmanuel.

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