61 Years Ago: Balewa’s Independence Day Speech

Tafawa Balewa

 For 61 years, Nigeria has been marking its independence from Britain. Notwithstanding that the country has gone through many faulty moves and numbing frustrations, not a few believe that it is necessary to always see a cup as half full and not half empty.

 Below is the speech made by Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa on Independence day 61 years ago.

 “..We are grateful to the British officers whom we have known, first as masters, and then as leaders, and finally as partners, but always as friends.

And there have been countless missionaries who have laboured unceasingly in the cause of education and to whom we owe many of our medical services. We are grateful also to those who have brought modern methods of banking and of commerce, and new industries.

I wish to pay tribute to all of these people and to declare our everlasting admiration of their devotion to duty. And finally, I must express our gratitude to Her Royal Highness, the Princess Alexandra for personally bringing to us these symbols of our freedom and especially for delivering the gracious message from Her Majesty, The Queen.

And so, with the words ‘God Save Our Queen’, I open a new chapter in the history of Nigeria and of the Commonwealth, and indeed, of the world.

* Speech Declaring Nigeria’s Independence by Nigeria’s First Prime Minister Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa – October 1, 1960