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23 Jun, 2023 16:09

Niger dumps colonial French anthem

The West African country’s government says the move reflects its status as a sovereign state
Niger dumps colonial French anthem

Niger’s parliament adopted a new national anthem on Thursday, more than 60 years after independence, in an effort to rid the country of the vestiges of French colonialism.

A bill to change the anthem to ‘The Honor of the Fatherland’ from the French-composed ‘La Nigerienne’ received overwhelming support from lawmakers, according to Anadolu, citing a parliamentary radio station that broadcast the debates.

Former Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou initially announced the decision to alter the country’s anthem in 2019, in response to criticism that some of the lyrics appeared to express gratitude to its former colonizer.

In particular, Nigeriens objected to passages in the first verse that say, “Let us be proud and grateful for our newfound freedom.”

A committee was tasked with making corrections and composing a new anthem that reflects Niamey’s current context.

In 2022, the new Nigerien government indicated its move to adopt ‘The Honor of the Fatherland’, replacing ‘La Nigerienne’, which was written by French composers Maurice Albert Thiriet, Robert Jacquet and Nicolas Abel Francois Frionnet in 1961, following the West African nation’s independence.

The lyrics of the new anthem were composed by a group of national experts.

The government justified its decision by citing Niger’s political progression from World War II to its independence, which it said closely mirrored the experiences of several French colonies in Africa, including the gradual acquisition of characteristics associated with a nation genuinely striving for sovereignty.

France began colonizing Niger in the late 1890s. The Sahel nation gained independence in 1960 as part of a larger decolonization process prompted by political transitions and Paris’ relinquishment of African colonies.