ANTHEMS matter. They reflect the traditions, mores, aspirations and the indomitability of a nation’s spirit. An often cited example is the French national anthem La Marseillaise. The anthem is fiercely political, reflecting the hopes and aspirations of French soldiers during the revolutionary transformation from the divine rights of kings into a republic. The anthem of France unusually reflects the diversity of the nation’s ideology with the fervour of the song changes reflecting which ideological orientation is in power. When the left is in power, there is a full revolutionary fervour in the beat, the anthem is more demure when the conservatives are in office. In Nigeria,
anthems matter too. A majority of the older generation clearly has a greater affinity for the original independence anthem “Nigeria, We Hail Thee”; believing that it better reflects the spirit of the national consensus upon which independence was obtained. The upsurge in the political firmament due to the re-emergence of the contentious issue of the nationalities has brought back the centrality of the ethos of anthems.
In his column published in The Nigerian Tribune on Monday, the columnist, Lasisi Olagunju, titled his piece: “Akeredolu, Yoruba Anthem And The Ancestors” putting the centrality of the ethos of anthems back on the front burner, zeroing in on the contrived controversies over the Yoruba Anthem. He did a yeoman’s job, tracing the origins of the anthem to the efforts of Yoruba worthies in the 1940s, culminating in its adoption by the defunct Action Group government as the Western Region’s anthem in the 1950s.
Credit is given for its reinstatement into relevance when he pointed out that, “Rauf Aregbesola’s Osun State EXHUMED [emphasis ours] it and adopted the melody of its sound some years ago. Rauf’s successor, Gboyega Oyetola is singing it with passion. Two three weeks ago, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu took that song of strength to his Executive Council. He led the cast, having lately donned the armour of Yoruba nationalism”. A government circular last week came out, making it compulsory for all in the service of Ondo State to sing this song from the past everyday”.
The reawakening of pride and a longing for identity is the reason why anthems are being reawakened. It is woven in cultural history and a testimony to resilience. History itself is made not as those who make it would have wanted but under pre-existing conditions. As Herodotus said: “those who do not know anything about the events which occurred before they were born will remain forever children“; Kudos to all those who exhumed an edifying past and have kept the flag flying.
To break the logjam, we need to work the talk and work the anthem by doing the following:
- The Region needs to focus on functional quality education
- Out-of-school children have been growing in number in the South-West and Osun was second in number (behind Oyo), with respect to ranking of out-of-school children in 2019. This sad trend requires urgent arrest and reversal
- Remedial Education structures need to be promoted to provide “second chance” to those who drop out or miss out.
- Adult Education programmes need to be revamped to bridge education gaps for adults.
- Technical and Vocational Education relevant to the needs of the society need to be vigorously pursued all over the region.
- Upgrade the technical competence and character of our artisans to be able to compete globally.