Niger has decided to change its national anthem, « La Nigerienne », adopted after independence in 1960, to remove an allusion to the former French colonizer, announced Thursday evening the government.
« There are parts of the anthem that are unanimously criticized. We must find a hymn that can galvanize the population, be for us a kind of war cry to touch our patriotic fiber, « said Nigerian Minister of Cultural Renaissance, Assoumana Malam Issa, on state television.
The minister made the announcement after an interview between President Mahamadou Issoufou and a committee to develop the new hymn.
The lyrics of « La Nigérienne » were written by Frenchman Maurice Albert Thiriet in 1961, a year after the country’s independence in 1960.
Many Nigerians criticize especially the third and fourth verse, « Let us be proud and grateful / Of our new freedom! », Saying that this word « grateful » marks an infeodation to France.
The new committee « will reflect on the current anthem with corrections » and « if possible find a new hymn that responds to the current context of Niger, » continued the minister.
He launched « an appeal » to his compatriots to send to the Committee « contributions » for the elaboration of « the main work (final) in national languages ».
Niger, one of the poorest states in the world, faces six of its seven borders with jihadist attacks or armed bandits including the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram in the east or Sahelian jihadist groups in the West.
The country will celebrate on December 18th the 61st anniversary of the proclamation of its republic in 1958.