This vexillology blog and the vexillology podcast The Vexillogicast are exhibiting some synchronicity this week, with both of us happening to choose the topic of the flag change process in Fiji. Listen to their Changing Fiji’s Flag episode (runs about 11 minutes) for an entertaining overview, and check out the episode’s links page for more information. (And see our last post for how to submit a flag design for consideration.)
A particularly interesting link provided by The Vexillogicast is to the text of Prime Minister Bainimarama’s speech from just under a year ago, in which he announced and justified the flag change. We’ll end with an excerpt:
But now that our new democracy is in place, we can proceed with the program I flagged at the beginning of 2013 to adopt a symbol that is more in keeping with our national aspirations in the 21st century.
We need to replace the symbols on our existing flag that are out of date and no longer relevant, including some anchored to our colonial past. The new flag should reflect Fiji’s position in the world today as a modern and truly independent nation state.
The existing flag is widely loved and admired and I want to stress that this initiative is in no way a repudiation of it or the warm sentiments we all feel whenever it is raised. It has served us well since it was introduced at Independence in 1970.
Our United Nations peacekeeping troops have fought and sometimes died under it. Our sportsmen have stood before it as they achieved some of the greatest and most inspirational victories in our sporting history.
As a nation, we will never forget the image of Iliesa Delana [see above] –now an Assistant Minister in my Government – waving our flag before the vast crowd and the global television audience when he won Gold at the London Paralympics. And, of course, every Fijian has stood before it in our schools as they sing our national anthem with patriotism and pride.
So we honour our existing flag as an important link to our past and it will continue to have an important place during the transitional phase to our new national symbol.
But after 45 years, my fellow Fijians, it is time to dispense with the colonial symbols on our flag – the Union Flag of the United Kingdom and our colonial shield – and embrace a flag that is relevant to every Fijian today.