There were six people involved in Nigeria’s when it was written in 1978 and none got anything, and that includes a 16-year-old boy who was expecting some schoolbooks.
But this week one has finally received payment – just 34 years after the fact!
Benedict Odiase has been given 150,000 naira ($950/£600) in royalties for ‘Arise O Compatriots’ being used as a ringtone.
Odiase’s 78, in grinding poverty and facing mounting hospital bills, so thank God someone’s finally paid him, even if it wasn’t his government. (The picture above is of some Nigerians celebrating the news).
Odiase was director of the Nigerian Police Band when he wrote the anthem, a group of men who bizarrely made brilliant dance tunes like this in their spare time.
I interviewed him once, and all he actually wanted to talk about was whether London’s weather had gotten better since he studied here in the ‘60s (“It was so very, very cold. It took me weeks to get used to it coming from Lagos”).
But he did find time to explain why Nigeria’s anthem has crazy African percussion running all the way through it. “Of course it had to have an African rhythm,” he said. “I couldn’t reflect the Nigerian dream if it had sounded British.”
This version’s by the US Navy Band. They try their best to sound Nigerian, bless ’em…
Update: Benedict Odiase sadly died in June 2013