Mon | Jun 21, 2021

'Desecrating the flag'

Published:Wednesday | April 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM

I WAS once a Cub Scout. I remember participating in a major scout event in St Ann. I was selected to lead a flag ceremony at the culmination of which, I would hoist the Jamaican flag as the national anthem bellowed across the event grounds. The ceremony was to be broadcast on the most important television station in the world (at least in my young mind) - the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

I practised all week for that ceremony. I went through my routine ad nauseam - folding and unfolding the flag, securing it to the pole, taking care to meticulously raise it so that it reached the apex at the very moment "Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love" sounded.

The big day arrived. I had prepared as much as I could. I was ready - exceedingly proud to be given the duty to raise the black, green, and gold in front of my country.

Black, green and gold

There is no red in the Jamaican flag, though there could be. I imagine it would be a deep crimson, actually, representative of the countless gallons of blood that have been spilled in the Jamaican soil to bring us this tattered, broken freedom we now enjoy. But no red is needed. The flag contains black, symbolic not of the colour of the people - since our colours are many - but of the struggles and hardships borne and overcome by a resilient nation.

From Nanny of the Maroons to Captain Cudjoe; from Marcus Mosiah Garvey to George William Gordon; from the domestic helper who braves the blistering commute each morning to the security guard who she passes on her journey as he returns from protecting the homes and businesses of men and women who barely know his name; the turmoil, struggles, and resilience of our people are embedded in the black of that flag.

Then there's the yellow. Actually, how dare I call it yellow? It is gold - the gold of a brilliant sunshine sent from God above. It is the fuel to the fire within our bellies. It is the beaming light that invigorates and illuminates the natural resources that pepper our land - from the coffee farms of the Blue Mountains to the majestic waters of the north coast; from the cane fields in which the dignity of our ancestors was slaughtered to the concrete jungles of Kingston in which a million components of our single greatest asset - our people - toil daily to honour and expand the legacies of those bold heroes and heroines who came before.

And then there's the green. If you had organised the civic ceremony last Thursday in Montego Bay in which councillors and the mayor were sworn-in, the green represents something quite ugly. For them, when they see that green, their brains, poisoned by the noxious odour of political tribalism to which they have been exposed for far too long, trigger faulty reactions that prompt them to see only politics.

Removing hope

Instead of the lush landscape and the hope of a nation, which the green represents, these politically maddened tribalists see only their opponents - Labourites. Instead of using our flag, the colours of which collectively represent our independence from generations of oppressors and conquerors - they decided, apparently, to strip the flag of its green - removing all reminders of the Jamaica Labour Party.

In performing this cheap political stunt, bastardising our nation's emblem and leaving in its wake some awkward black and yellow banner of political imbecility and immaturity, what they actually did was strip our country of the hope that we might finally work together, setting aside political differences, to forge a better Jamaica.

What we will likely hear from the hierarchy of the People's National Party (PNP) regarding this desecration of the people's flag are excuses. What we need are apologies, which might serve to restore some glimmer of hope that our leaders can recognise their wrongs and do right by our country.

As for my scout event: the cameras rolled as I carefully unfolded the flag, secured it to the pole, and pulled the cord - hoisting our national colours high into the evening sky. I looked up, with pride in my nine-year-old eyes, only to see, to my horror, that the flag was somehow turned inside out. I was devastated. My national television debut was an epic failure. More important, though, I unintentionally massacred our flag and what it represents. To anyone who might have watched on that day in 1989, I extend my deepest apologies - from the nine-year-old version of me.

PNP, back to you.

Din Duggan is an attorney working as a consultant with a global legal search firm. Email him at columns@gleanerjm.com or dinduggan@gmail.com or view his past columns at facebook.com/dinduggan and twitter.com/YoungDuggan.