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A national song

August 8, 2011

Dear Sir,

The popular song composed and produced by Bermudian John Woolridge 'Proud to be Bermudian' probably qualifies as a genuine national song; the first since Hubert Smith's Bermuda is Another World; which at the time many Bermudians felt should have been given the nod over the chosen, Hail to Bermuda; the song that won the contest to create a national song for Bermuda some time back.

What should go into a national song to qualify it as such? Well the main prerequisite is that it appeals to the psychological make up of the people that it is intended to represent. Next it should have some connection to the cultural and social reality to the nation or people of which it came out of. Finally it must have the ability to stand the test of time, in other words it must have the ability to appeal to how generations to come see themselves and consider that it is a genuine representation of their national being as a country.

The Australian national song Waltzing Matilda qualifies as a genuine national song, much beloved by the Australian people, it is considered to be Australia's unofficial national anthem.

It was composed by AB Banjo Paterson who wrote it in the aftermath of a battle between workers and the owners at the Dagworth sheep shearing station during a strike for better working conditions.

Police and soldiers were sent to put down the strike that had taken place, but the sheep shearing workers were considered to embody the national identity of the nation which the rugged Australian sheep shearer who lived on the far flung regions of the outback on those isolated sheep farms represented so well.

The song is said to have the power to make one cry or laugh depending on the mood and since some of the verses were based on the battle waged by sheep shearers and their bosses, for a long time it was not revered by Australia's upper class and authorities. It was downplayed, even banned. But in the hearts of the ordinary Australian it spoke directly to their view of themselves as an Australian.

Actually the song's title is taken from Australian slang describing a worker on Australia's sheep shearing farms, who carries his belongings in a sway or small haversack on a stick slung over his shoulder, hence the term waltzing Matilda.

For a long time Hubert Smith's 'Bermuda is Another World' was considered to be Bermuda's unofficial national song; but it focused less on the people of Bermuda and more on the physical beauty and the pace of life on the Island.

'Proud to be Bermudian' focuses on the people of Bermuda and speaks of overcoming adversity as part of the history of what Bermudians have had to do since these islands were first settled, hence it's ability to stand the test of time and to have a receptive influence on the Bermudian psyche which would appeal to generations to come.

Bermuda has changed socially and though many would wish that it wasn't so, the reality of increased violence among young black males in Bermuda, this war between cousins which has had deadly consequences for the country as a whole and the increasingly severe economic dislocation are reaching levels that Bermudians are unused to. Modern history has made Hubert Smith's 'Bermuda is Another World' something that has less of an appeal in it's description of the way Bermuda used to be than what many see as the Bermuda today.

I am afraid that 'Proud to be Bermudian' speaks to the times we are living in although it does combine elements of Bermuda Is Another World; but in different contexts. It is because it has touched the feelings of Bermudians and has come along at a time that the people of Bermuda needed an uplift. Some focus on somehow overcoming our current adversities is why it has proven to be such a hit not only among adults but also children who can be heard singing its lyrics.

I for one would like to hear a Bermuda Regiment Band rendition of this song as I support anything that has the power to reinforce the national identity of the people of Bermuda.

ALVIN WILLIAMS

Warwick

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Published August 15, 2011 at 11:15 am (Updated August 15, 2011 at 11:15 am)

A national song

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