In the decades following that very first national independence, a debate arose, over the meaning of the black triangle in the national flag.
Race could play no overt part in the choice of national symbols.
The debate centred on, whether or not, black was meant to represent the racial identity of a black majority. Pragmatically speaking, if one were to view this solely through the lens of nation building, the answer could only be, it wasn’t.
Delineating or highlighting race, one way or the other, would have been too divisive. One has to consider what the political consequences such a move, even if it was intended, would have indicated to the world.
The ruling Progressive Liberal Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, despite winning three successive general elections in 1967, 1968 and 1972, were still considered, by some, both at home and abroad, as either radical progressive leftists or democratic socialists.
Socialism and communist ideologies, of the late 1960s and 1970s, were being widely discussed throughout black majority nations as the antidote to racism and racially biased economic deprivation which plagued black communities across the globe.
Symbols of national identity, broadly speaking, are not meant to be that literal in popular interpretation. National symbols are intended to be aspirational, idealistic and visionary.
The black triangle, representing the “vigour and force” of the people, as a collective, is superimposed over the two other colours, pointing purposefully towards the economic pillars of this nation: land and sea.
Awkward Aquamarine and 1973 Gold turned 2023 Yellow
If black has proved to be a sociopolitical issue, then aquamarine has proved to be a vexing textile colouring problem. Since its choice for our national flag, aquamarine was always going to be awkward. They knew this since 1973.
Depending on the manufacturer, no two Bahamian flags, ever seem to have a standard aquamarine colour. National flags can run several degrees on the colour spectrum, struggling between turquoise to a dull dark green.
In 1973, when they couldn’t readily find a manufacturer to mass produce the flag with that distinctive colour, the government became acutely aware that aquamarine was always going to be problematic.
Along with an awkward aquamarine colour, likewise our once golden gold stripe has become a curious standard yellow to an orange-yellow colour depending on the manufacturer.
Timothy Gibson wins national anthem song competition 1973 with song he wrote in 1969
Several important factors had to be considered in the choice of a new Bahamian national anthem. Lyrics and music were only two of several considerations. The personality behind the anthem was another. Why? Well, England had the final approval on it all.
In terms of lyrics, a national anthem is a piece of music designed to create a sense of patriotism and pride for one’s nation. It is meant to inspire people and record a heritage still rich in future promise.
“March On Bahamaland” captured the aspirational spirit embodied in the new national flag so well, that many, when first sung, in those early morning moments of 10th July 1973, as our flag flew for the first time, were so overwhelmed by emotion, simply stood—crying tears of pride that they scarcely knew existed inside them.
Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland;
March on to glory, your bright banners waving high.
See how the world marks the manner of your bearing!
Pledge to excel through love and unity.
Pressing onward, march together
to a common loftier goal;
Steady sunward, tho' the weather
hide the wide and treacherous shoal.
Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland,
'Til the road you've trod lead unto your God,
March on, Bahamaland!
Timothy Gibson, it must be said, was not specifically chosen to write our national anthem. He, along with an unknown number of others, submitted their lyrics and music in a national competition.
Of equal importance in choosing an anthem, was due consideration of the personality behind the chosen song. Their name would be recorded in the history books for centuries to come. Timothy Gibson, ticked every box. He was a well respected citizen, who had already been nationally honoured, for service to his country.
Gibson wrote his winning song “March On Bahamaland” in 1969, four years before independence.