What Flag Is That, January 10, 2021

The Republic Of Fiji, an island country in the Melanesia part of Oceania in the South Pacific. It is composed of an archipelago of 330 islands, 110 of which are inhabited. The indigenous people are the Austronesians then Melanesians with some Polynesian influence.

Family clans or tribes ruled various islands for most of the early history of Fiji. Europeans came in the late 1700’s and as is their habit they saw a beautiful place with agricultural potential so various nations fought over who could take it for themselves. The Dutch and finally the British claimed all of the islands.

It is interesting how world events influenced all nations. With the US Civil War the supply of cotton to the rest of the world was jeopardized. Europeans saw Fiji as a good place to raise cotton and make money. Horrible things transpired such as when they could not ‘recruit’ workers, indigenous people were enslaved to work the cotton fields.

Known as ‘blackbirding’ British sailors were told to turn their collars around so that they would look like clergy missionaries and entice individuals into ships to become slaves. Slavery made money as well as cotton.

The British officially formed the ‘Colony of Fiji’ in 1874. It remained a colony until 1970 when it was ‘granted’ independence. It became a republic in 1987. There were coups in 2000 and 2006. The first election was held in 2014.

The current flag was adopted in 1970. It has remained the same with only slight variations to the coat of arms. The official seal, or coat of arms was adopted in 1908.

A shield supported by two warriors (notice they are twins). One warrior holds a spear the other holds a war hammer. A Fijian canoe sits atop the shield. The shield has a golden lion (in reference to the British crown) sitting on top holding a cacao pod. It is divided into quadrants by The Cross of Saint George (again the British influence). In one quadrant is sugarcane, another has a coconut palm, the third has a dove (peace) and that thing in the fourth is a bunch of bananas. The words on the ribbon spell out: “Fear God and Honor the Queen”.

After the election in 2014 the overwhelming majority of the population was in favor of redesigning the flag. They felt it should reflect the indigenous history, not the British history. In 2018 after holding a competition to find redesigns the government said it was not a good idea. They claimed that the world saw the current flag after the Fijians won a gold medal in the Olympic Games and besides, (sic) ‘we don’t want to offend our British friends’.

Fiji, a flag that should be redesigned.

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