Important words giving meaning to national unity, identity, heritage and common purpose.
I have been heartened by the words of the Premier of Guadalcanal Province, Francis Sade that he spoke when attending the commissioning ceremony of the United Square. Words which caused me to reflect on the late events of 1998 and the early months of 1999, now known as the onset of the dark period in the nation’s history as the onset of the ‘tensions’ that ultimately led to internal civil conflict.
A drawn out conflict, which in my long-held view, could easily have been avoided (as fully recounted in my book ‘Policing a Clash of Cultures’) and in a radio talk with the former presenter of the ABC’s Pacific Beat program.
Premier Sade’s commentary is important to repeat, as recorded in the local media.
“As we know, our country is culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse. This diversity has often portrayed as a challenge to building national consciousness in our country.
“Our many languages and culture have often been portrayed as a liability to national unity because it is often seen as privileging provincial and island identities and hence engender divisions, weaken state institutions, has contributed to conflicts and hinders socio-economic development.
“It is therefore argued that we do not have a sense of nationalism and that in order to build and strengthen national consciousness, we must abandon and erase our diverse cultures and languages,” he said.
“Sade continued by challenging that narrative and argument of cultural and ethno-linguistic diversities are not hinderances to nationalism.
“Rather, they enrich and bless our country and are the foundation and essence of our unity. Our diversities should be harnessed, celebrated and taught in our school systems and to each other.
“Our unity should be woven with the colorful fronds of our diversity. Our diversity should be our pillar of strength and resilience in a world that pushes for submission to a single cultural, language and economic system,” he said.