I, again, find it difficult to post something to the blog this week. Not for reasons of a lack of what to write but rather because there are just too many things to talk about. Ok, too many things to write about aspects of life, society, culture, technology, principles, policy, pride, national identity, globalism or globalisation, education, educational technologies, etc, etc. And worse off, in my dilemma to find significance in these myriad of topics, I have to find the connection between them – the thin strand of commonality that links them, so that they make sense to me.
So I will try to start with globalism (noun, the attitude or policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations or globalisation; verb, to extend to other or all parts of the globe; make worldwide) and link it to national pride and identity.
In 1960, when the Nigerian founding fathers gained independence from the British, a new national anthem was needed. One arrived from a combination of lyrics taken from the five best entries in a national competition. The first two lines of the new anthem (1960-1978) says,
Nigeria we hail thee,
Our own dear native land.
The second line of that anthem is similar, has the same number of syllables and almost ends with the same words as the first two lines of the Canadian anthem.
Our home and native land!
What is common to Estonia, Turkmenistan, Lithuania, Zimbabwe and Haiti? The reference to “native land” in all their anthems. Estonian (My Native Land, My Pride and Joy); what was called, the Black National Anthem (Lift Every Voice and Sing) has a reference to standing true to “our native land”; The Turkmenistan anthem has a line – “Native land, sovereign state”; The Lithuanian anthem – “working for the good of their native land and for all mankind”; the third verse of the Zimbabwean anthem beseeches God to bless our “native land” and so does the last line of the Haitian Anthem – pledging allegiance to the land and willing to die for it.
Besides the fact that some of these nations (Canada, Nigeria, Zimbabwean) may once have been under British colony and rule, these common references may highlight plagiarism in today’s context (D. Hlinka) but had nothing to do with it one or two centuries back. In fact, references or similarities in anthems may have been used as linkages, identity and relationships to colonial heritages so much that arguments for plagiarism or ownership of rights as today’s copyright laws demand were downplayed in the face of patriotism or identity to a higher power, colony or tradition. So, “God Save the Queen”, may no longer be used in most of these countries but the existence of lines that link these pasts to date, in these anthems may still remain an indication of such allegiance. What we sometimes fail to remember is that lines such as these moved from one country to another perhaps without the use of technology as we knew it – in their audio visual sense (the use of radio and TV) but technology did however play a part in the globalization of national pride and identity as defined by the anthems that characterized these nations. The ships, books, warring vessels and colonial tendencies enhanced by technology did play a role in how these words found their ways into widely dispersed national anthems.
So when Michael Buble started his performance by singing “Maple Leaf Forever” at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics, he ended it by singing the last lines of O’ Canada invariably linking centuries, times, identities, stereotypes, national pride, global influences, etc.
What was most fascinating during the presentation was the respect to time. It started at 7.30pm CET and ended promptly at 10pm CET. With all the chaos in between, the timing was still perfect. There were several points of failure in the entire production and one that stood out to me was the little “puck” skating in the midst of the giant hockey players. He could have tripped or delayed the production by a minute or two but everything remained perfectly timed. Perhaps David Atkins, the director of the production must receive credit for this but timing was important especially if this production was to be viewed by the global community represented at the games and separated by several time zones. Technology had to be respected and technology had to be used with respect to bring an exciting viewing experience to the global audience of the games.
Buble, sang a version of the song with a reference to lands; “Our land of peace, where proudly flies, The Maple Leaf forever.” Perhaps the common thread that linked all of these, from the time of colonial era signified by the 1812 version that referenced the queen to Buble’s (actually Radian’s,) 1997 version, Maple Leaf Forever is not just a reference to a flag flying in the sky but to one in which more significant value exists than meets the ordinary eye.