Nigeria’s battle of crane and eagle and why the eagle won

The national football team, the Super Eagles of Nigeria were once called Green Eagles of Nigeria! They would have been called the Super Cranes of Nigeria after previously bearing the tag of Green Cranes of Nigeria, if the crane had won the battle of who would occupy that position on our national crest, in various competitions organised to select the words and music for our national anthem, the national flag, the national crest and others, as part of preparations for the celebration of Independence on October 1, 1960.

Interestingly, the original national crest that was brought to the cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, for endorsement and approval had a crested crane where a crested eagle now rests. Of course, the cabinet rejected the suggestion of placing a crane on our national crest. The members were unanimous in their position that the crane comes across as lazy and ungainly whereas the eagle comes across as strong and virile. The crane might come across as elegant and sartorial in certain contexts but certainly it cannot shrug off the laid back and laissez faire tag it is sometimes associated with. The eagle on the other hand does not have that split identity baggage. It has the same identity in almost every context.

Those discerning members of the cabinet did not want a symbol that communicated a split image and identity. They wanted the country to have clear cut symbols that did not allow for fudging and those kinds of things.

How well have we lived up to the symbol resting on our crest? Would the crane have represented us more accurately? And how did a crane ever get into the original national crest that was presented to the cabinet for approval, of all the birds that are native to Nigeria? Who are the crane fans?

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