This October marks the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. But with international air travel still limited, going home to celebrate may have to wait for another year. In the festive spirit, Azimo has put together this guide to sharing Nigeria’s big day with your family, wherever you are.
What is Nigerian Independence Day?
Nigerian Independence Day is an official national holiday in Nigeria, celebrating the anniversary of its independence from Great Britain.
Nigeria gained independence on October 1st 1960 under the leadership of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, then the Governor-General of the country and later its first President. Nigeria’s post-Independence relationship with Great Britain is one of the reasons there’s a large Nigerian community in the UK, especially in London.
When is Nigerian Independence Day?
The Federal Republic of Nigeria celebrates Independence Day every October 1st. In Nigeria, the anniversary is also referred to as Nigeria National Day, although Nigerian Independence Day is the official name.
|Did you know: New York is the only city outside of Nigeria that has an official Nigerian Independence Day parade. The Big Apple started its parade in 1991 and it’s still going strong.|
What happens on Nigerian Independence Day?
Nigerians love to get the party started early – and October 1st is no different. In the morning, President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation from Aso Villa (the Presidential Palace) in Abuja to officially commence the celebrations.
After that, the ceremonial raising of the national flag and rendition of ‘Arise O’ Compatriots’ is broadcast. This is followed by the cutting of the government’s Independence day cake. The cake usually displays the colours of the Nigerian flag, map or coat of arms.
|Fun fact: The national anthem’s lyrics are a combination of phrases taken from the best entries in a national contest. The words were put to music by the Nigerian Police Band.|
Around midday, the official parade will begin. It features marching bands and a lot of military fanfare, including the changing of the guard. Up next is a procession of traditional songs, dances and outfits representing Nigeria’s many ethnic groups.
Next, the party continues with different neighbourhoods holding their own events. For those staying indoors, Nigerian TV channels and radio stations have special shows dedicated to Nigeria’s rich and illustrious history.
How to enjoy Nigerian Independence Day in 2021
With COVID-19 still present, celebrating this year poses some unique challenges for Nigerians both at home and overseas.
That said, the holiday is an opportunity for socially-distanced get-togethers, parties and (un)official firework displays.
For those based abroad, it’s a chance for extended phone or video calls to loved ones back home on apps like Zoom, WhatsApp and Skype.
Heard about the Naira 4 Dollar scheme? For every US dollar you send to Nigeria, your recipient will receive a five naira bonus.
What to eat on Nigerian Independence Day
Mention food to any Nigerian and you’re bound to get them engaged in healthy debate. That’s because recipes of popular dishes in the country vary from one region to another. It’s therefore, pun intended, a hot topic.
Here is Azimo’s list of top bites to enjoy on October 1st:
- Jollof rice – a spicy rice dish enjoyed all over Nigeria. Most variations contain tomatoes, onions and scotch bonnets.
- Egusi soup – a thick stew usually made with fish or meat plus ground melon seeds.
- Moyin moyin – so good they named it twice. Oven-baked bean cakes infused with banana leaves.
- Pounded yam – like mashed potatoes but best served with egusi or okra soup.
- Efo riro – a rich spinach-based stew usually made with scotch bonnets, red bell peppers, locust beans and crayfish.
- A Nigerian Independence cake – grab a slice of your take on the celebratory cake.
Nigerian Independence Day music
As anyone who has been to a Nigerian event will confirm, Nigerians love to dance their socks off. That’s why Azimo has created this playlist to kick-start the party. Happy dancing and happy anniversary.