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For this Independence, make Jamaica a sea of black, green and gold

Thursday, July 26, 2012

WITH very little prompting, we are proud to see many Jamaican businesses, churches and individuals have been adorning their properties with the black, green and gold colours of the Jamaican flag.

Even if we do say so ourselves, the colours displayed in all their glory are visually pleasing and show that the choice made by means of a national competition and a bipartisan committee of the legislature, in time for August 6, 1962, the Jamaican Independence Day, has stood the test of time. The flag was originally designed with horizontal stripes, but this was considered too similar to the Tanganyikan (later Tanzanian) flag, and so the saltire was substituted. Incidentally, black, green, and gold are Pan-African colours.

Since Independence from Britain, the original interpretation of the colours has undergone one major change. Previously they meant: "Hardships there are but the land is green and the sun shineth", with gold recalling the shining sun, black reflecting hardships experienced and to come, and green representing the land.

However, that was changed by the Rex Nettleford Committee to have the colour black representing the strength and creativity of the Jamaican people which has allowed us to overcome the odds; yellow for the golden sunshine and green for the lush vegetation and agricultural resources of our beautiful island.

We are fully in agreement with this latter interpretation, as borne out by the tremendous advancement of our people in only 50 years and the odds overcome during that time. We will need this positive outlook as we move to the next 50 years and the many challenges that we still have to overcome.

There was a time when the flag had lost its meaning. After falling a victim of the ideological 'warfare' of the 1970s and early 1980s, it was revived as a symbol of hope, pride and national unity in the successful campaign for the 1998 Football World Cup, from which our Reggae Boyz emerged as among the final 32 nations that went to France. Qualifying for the finals was an unlikely first in Jamaica's history and it inspired unprecedented patriotism in Jamaicans.

That spirit was reinforced by several intervening events, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Berlin World Championships in 2009, and the Daegu World Championships in 2011.

This year, the celebration of our 50th anniversary of Independence, coinciding with the London Olympic Games at which much is expected of Jamaican athletes led by the Hon Usain Bolt, provides another momentous occasion for the flag and the colours to fly high and represent Jamaican joy and genius.

It is therefore quite appropriate that the colours be draped on buildings and other means of public display. We believe that it would be an unforgettable sight, to Jamaica and to the world, if our island home were to be transformed into a sea of black, green and gold this Independence. Let no man walk through Jamaica without stark evidence that this is a nation in celebration.

And while we are at it, it is necessary to remember to treat the flag appropriately as befitting a great national symbol.

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