After the struggle, comes freedom! It’s Nigeria’s Diamond Jubilee!!!
It’s the beginning #blackhistorymonth and yes, another opportunity to look back in reverence as we pay homage to heroes of the Nigerian nation’s independence. Paragons of virtue, honour and integrity whose ultimate sacrifice birthed the freedom the giant of Africa somewhat enjoys today.
Think heartwarming displays: parades, fireworks and very importantly, that highly anticipated proud splash of green and white across the world in patriotism! Now you’re talking!
#BitterSweetMoment: While the Nigerian nation arguably revels in the glories of freedom, one cannot but imagine what our founding fathers, brave hearts who paid the ultimate price to ensure the a better nation think of the present day Nigeria – the grave uncertainties that lay around in the next hundred or so years.
#Flashback: Nigeria’s Independence – What You Should Know!
1. Nigerian Founding Fathers
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe
Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe, PC, usually referred to as “Zik”, was a Nigerian statesman and political leader who served as the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. Considered a driving force behind the nation’s independence, he came to be known as the “father of Nigerian Nationalism”.
Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo, GCFR, was a Nigerian nationalist and statesman who played a key role in Nigeria’s independence movement, the First and Second Republics and the Civil War. A strong and influential advocate of independence, nationalism, and federalism, he introduced free education in the Western region of Nigeria and also founded Action Group.
Sir Ahmadu Bello
Leading Northern spokesman, the Sardauna of Sokoto, thought by many to be the most powerful figure in Nigeria. He founded the Northern People’s Party (NPP) in 1951 which later joined forces with Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC party to fight for independence from the British.
2. History of Nigeria’s Independence:
As early as the 16th century European influence had already started gaining footings. Through constant communication between the first explorers from Spain and Portugal and locals through trading, the development of ports such as Lagos, foreign powers took root.
Lagos came under British control in 1861 and by the 19th century, she gained significance through the Royal Niger Company, truncating attempts by the Germans to expand in the region.
1 January 1900, the British Empire officially created the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the Northern Nigeria Protectorate. By the late 1950s, the call for independence of territories in Africa and the decline of the British Empire paved way. October 27, 1958, a formal agreement was reached that Nigeria would become an independent state. On 1 October 1960, it was official, the country was granted independence
Nigeria marked total independence from Britain when it became a federal republic when a new constitution was adopted on 1 October 1963 with Nnamdi Azikiwe as its first president.
3. Significance of the date
On this day in history October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained independence from Britain. It marks the country’s independence from British rule.
In celebration, every October 1st, Nigerians, home and in the diaspora celebrate the freedom from the British colony.
4. Origin of the name ‘Nigeria’
The name ‘Nigeria’ was coined by British Journalist and writer, Flora Shaw, wife of Sir Frederick Lugard a British soldier, mercenary, explorer of Africa and colonial administrator also noted as the first Governor-General of Nigeria.
Drawing inspiration from the great river Niger and combining ‘Niger’ and ‘Area’ the name ‘Nigeria’ was formed – “In an essay that first appeared in The Times on 8 January 1897, by “Miss Shaw”, she suggested the name “Nigeria” for the British Protectorate on the Niger River.”
5. How Independence Day Is Celebrated;
The festivities officially begin with President’s address to citizens, broadcast live. This notable day also features military parade in the country’s Federal capital territory – Abuja, currently, followed by colourful parades, vibrant cultural displays and super fun concerts.
Worthy of note: Since 1991, New York which reportedly hosts over 150, 000 spectators has held the largest Nigerian Independence Day celebration.
Another amazing fact: It concides with the beginning of #BlackHistoryMonth
Black History Month which kicks off October 1st – 31st October, is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Nigeria also celebrates freedom from the British every October 1st which launches Black History Month