Today, October 1, 2019 is Nigeria’s Independence Day. It is a historic day for the most populous black nation on earth as October 1, 1960 officially marked Nigeria’s freedom from the British colonial masters who had hitherto dictated the socio-political and economic life of the people.
Nigeria is 59 today, and in less than six decades, the West African nation has hit remarkable heights despite the fact that she is still undergoing nation building. Contrary to the thoughts of many, the nation has remained united despite the presence of 250 ethnic groups, and diverse cultural practices, the country has been united as ONE for the past 59 years.
Nigeria has not only grown steadily as an independent nation but has been tagged the ‘’Giant of Africa’’ for her enormous role in the growth and development of the black continent. Nigeria’s first Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa noted that ‘’Africa is the centre piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy,’’ and without a doubt, Nigeria has pursued this objective and seen to the liberation of many African countries both politically and economically.
For instance, Nigeria played a huge role in the liberation of South Africa from apartheid by serving as home to South African freedom fighters, financially supporting the struggle, and condemning the apartheid system in international summits and events to the point of pulling out of the 1986 Commonwealth Games alongside some other African countries like Ghana to show displeasure for the apartheid system. Liberia would not experience peace today if not for the role of Nigeria evident in deployment of troops to fight off rebels and also providing huge financial support for the economic stability of Liberia. Other African countries like Ghana (tapping from Nigeria’s energy resources like Petroleum and electricity), Benin Republic and a host of West African and other African countries have Nigeria to thank for their growth and stability.
Nigerians have equally hit giant strides globally be it in the entertainment industry, sports, international politics among others. Nigeria’s movie industry Nollywood is ranked as the second largest film industry in terms of output only behind India, surpassing America’s Hollywood. The country’s music industry is top in Africa and with the recent trend of ‘’Afro-fusion,’’ Nigerian beats are taking over the world.
In sports, Nigeria has won the FIFA U17 World Cup more times than any nation on earth with a total of five trophies, Nigeria’s men national team has equally emerged African champions thrice, while the women’s national team has more AFCON trophies than any African nation with a total of 11. The country also emerged gold medalists at the 1996 Olympic Games in the United States in the men’s football category. The exploits of retired Sprint queen and long jump specialist Chioma Ajunwa saw her win the country’s first Olympic gold medal during the 1996 Games.
Amina Mohammed is the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Muhammad Bande is the current President of the United Nations General Assembly. In the literary world, Professor Wole Soyinka put Nigeria on the global map as one of the giant literary nations on earth with his emergence as winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won the Orange Prize for Literature in 2007, and Late Chinua Achebe is still remembered for his masterpieces such as Things Fall Apart.
Though there is still much work to do, Nigerians cannot help but be proud of being part of such great nation.
Happy Independence Day, Nigeria!
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