IN THE CANDID CORNER – No yellow in our Flag!
In just under two weeks Barbados will celebrate its 45th anniversary of Independence. It is a proud moment in our history as we look back on all of our achievements. The sceptics have been proven wrong. The naysayers have fled and the world has confirmed our ability “to punch above our size”.
But 45 years is not a long time in the life of a country. Four decades is only a brief historical span and, given the lingering sense of “no man being an island”, while our sovereignty has been secured, the reality is that we live in a global village. As such, our inter-dependence looms as large as our independence. In fact, there are sides of the same coin in the geopolitical sense.
So what does it mean when we say that we are independent? What constitutes the psyche of independent Barbados? Having been weaned from Britain and having charted our own course for the past 45 years represents only the first principles of Independence.
We have a proud tradition of excellence in terms of our educational provisions. It is said that wherever you go in this world you will find a Barbadian. The more fundamental point to be made is that many products of our educational system can be found at the helm of major organizations and institutions the world over.
One such person is Chelston Whitley DaCosta Brathwaite, known for his administrative, technical and institutional leadership in international agricultural development. He worked in the United States, Italy, Kenya, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and Costa Rica.
He was elected as director general of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on November 26, 2001 and has initiated a process of institutional reform at IICA to make it an institution of excellence with clearly defined priorities, decentralized operations, modern management and an institution that promotes partnership with its member states for the benefit of the peoples of the Americas.
A product of St Matthew’s Mixed School and one of many outstanding Barbadians who have impacted the world, he epitomizes all that we can become as a country.
At another level, while we might decry certain aspects of our singing sensation’s world view, there is sense in which it is still incomprehensible to many that a small country with just over a quarter million people can produce an individual at the youthful age of 23 who can hold her own in the international entertainment arena.
Those of us who flocked to Kensington Oval last summer to see Rihanna perform before her home crowd were left spellbound at her artistry, her skill and her tremendous talent. As she bestrides the world like a colossus, flaws and all, she will always be a Bajan gem.
But while we have demonstrated the capacity to punch above our size, there are some basics to which we must return. For the past five years or so, we have done some damage as we have distorted the truth of our national colours and symbols. This distortion originated with one of our entertainers whose rhythmic lyric “Blue, yellow and black push it up” captured the imagination of the entire populace.
In fact, I like the song, but if we are to be true to our sense of nationhood, we cannot perpetuate this error. And as if that was not bad enough, another entertainer, whose song Colours also put a yellow in our national symbols, followed her colleague and added insult to our national colour scheme.
So in our schools we teach that the Flag of Barbados is ultramarine, gold and black. The two outer panels carry that rich deep blue that reminds of the sky reflected in our deep waters that surround us. We teach that the Broken Trident symbolizes our break with the British and the central panel which provides the background for the trident is gold.
It was extremely hurtful when recently one of the members of the Cabinet also got caught in the colour trap as it relates to “our true colours”.
My contribution to our 45th anniversary of nationhood is to correct this error once and for all. Yellow is not one of our national colours. There is no yellow in our national flag.
In fact, it is gold, that symbolizes the excellence we must perpetually pursue as we continue to grow in “strength and unity”. To replace our gold with a fraudulent yellow is to do an injustice to our sense of Independence and to scar our psyche irreparably.
We owe it to this and future generations to get it right now, before it becomes an ingrained error that will become forever etched in our sense of who we truly are.
Blue, gold and black! Push it up!
Matthew D. Farley is a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum on Education, and a social commentator. Email [email protected]