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PHOTOS: Nigeria’s historic October 1, 1960 independence

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Just Exactly 62 years ago, on October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained independence from the British Empire and was added to the growing list of independent nations which the United Kingdom had set aside to grant independence to become a sovereign state.

Nigerians celebrated this historic break from colonialism across the country. There were lots of celebrations and jubilation within the country, especially in Lagos.

The historic day was celebrated in grand style, from fireworks to dance troupes, masquerades, and even a state banquet where dignitaries mingled and danced. People rejoiced together regardless of ethnic and religious background, while Nigerians in the Diaspora joined in a unified celebration of the independence of Nigeria.

The main celebration event in Obalende, Lagos was graced with the presence of Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Governor-General, Sir James Wilson Robertson, Queen Elizabeth II  who was represented by a member of the British royal family, Princess Alexandra, and the Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who took on the reins of power and led independent Nigeria’s new coalition government.

The celebrations went on for a couple of weeks in some states within the country and for those present at the Race Course (now Tafawa Balewa Square) in Obalende, Lagos, on October 1, 1960, it was an unforgettable experience.

Nigerian Tribune has rounded up 32 photos from the maiden celebration in 1960.

Here we go:

Newspapers across the country were not left out of the celebration with a special edition’s headline which read: “Nigeria Becomes A Sovereign Nation”.

1960 Newspaper special on Nigerian independence. 
Late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir James Wilson Robertson. Photo Sources: The Guardian Nigeria
Late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Princess Alexandra and Sir James Wilson Robertson.
Late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Nigeria’s first prime minister, with Princess Alexandra on October 1, 1960.

The celebrations were also topped by a grand ceremony hosted by the prime minister, Late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

Late Tafawa Balewa delivering his speech.

Princess Alexandra of Kent, reads the Queen’s speech on her arrival in Lagos, Nigeria, 28th September 1960. The princess is in the country to represent Queen Elizabeth II at Nigeria’s independence celebrations. On the left is Sir James Robinson, Governor General of the Federation.

Princess Alexandra on October 1, 1960. Photo Source: Getty image
Late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir James Wilson Robertson, Queen Elizabeth II, who was represented by a member of the British royal family, Princess Alexandra.
In October 1960, Princess Alexandra of Kent opened the first parliament of New Nigeria.
Princess Alexandra shaking hands with Nigerian dignitaries during Nigeria’s Independence. Photo Source: Pinterest
Late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo,Late Nnamdi Azikiwe and other dignitaries Photo Source: Nigerian Archives
Late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir James Wilson Robertson.
Officials at the Nigerian embassy celebrate their country’s Independence. Photo Source: Getty image
Nigerian women dancing. Photo Source : Corbis
Mr El-omitola and Mrs Lape Oyewole dance together at the Royal Festival Hall, London when they attended their celebrations held to mark the independence of Nigeria on October 1st, 1960. Photo Source: Getty image
Many Nigerians converge on the Royal festival hall, London to attend the Celebration of their country’s independence which occurred on October 1st, 1960. Photo Source: Getty image
1st October 1960: Nigerian students celebrating independence outside Nigeria House in London. (Photo by William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Joyously singing and dancing their way along Northumberland Avenue, London are Nigerians celebrating their country Independence which occurred on October 1st , 1960. Photo Source: Getty image
A woman wears a wrapper of freedom as a symbol of Nigeria independence.
Picture of Dignitaries at Nigeria’s Independence in 1960.
Late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Late Sir Ahmadu Bello,Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe on October 1,1960. Photo Source: Getty image
Spectators present at the October 1,1960 Nigeria’s independence.
Celebrations in the then capital, Lagos. Photo Source: Nigerian Archives

Nigerian students celebrating Independence. Photo Source: Pinterest

CELEBRATIONS IN ONITSHA SPORTS STADIUM, OCTOBER 1, 1960

Students on Ugwunaobamkpa Road at Mba Street intersection, October 1, 1960.Photo Source: a mighty tree .org
Oraifite Town women’s dancing group. Photo Source: A mighty tree.org

Another group of collective young men dancers, representing the Onitsha branch of another Ndi-Igbo town’s Improvement Union. Photo Source: A mighty tree

The arrival of Obi of Onitsha in a limousine. Photo Source: A mighty tree

The parading of a large array of local schoolgirls, all in uniform, marching past the reviewing stand. Photo Source: A mighty tree

A group of women dance. Photo Source: A mighty tree
A contingent of local Muslim representatives appear at one point a joint local celebrations as a compact and unified group. Photo Source: A mighty tree

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