A sensible article by Archbishop Peter Chong looks at meaning in a flag design. This is part of his article in the Fiji Times.
A flag symbolises a nation's identity, history, beliefs and values. The flag should communicate and make present to people what their nation stands for. The symbols in the flag point to the nation. To see the symbols is to see their national identity, beliefs and values.
Symbols will only speak to a people when it is drawn from their culture. Hence, a foreign symbol cannot speak to the local people. It must be added here that an effective symbol needs no interpretation or explanation. In other words, an effective symbol has the power to communicate what it symbolises and hence no need for explanations.
From what has been said about the nature and function of symbols we can make some concluding remarks in relation to the proposed new Fiji flag.
1. The Fiji flag should communicate Fijian identity, beliefs, values and aspirations.
2. The new Fiji flag should use effective and powerful local symbols that communicate Fijian identity, beliefs and values.
3. The symbols should be drawn from the major local ethnic and religious communities.
The 23 probable flags should be evaluated and critiqued in light of these three points. The comments we are getting in the media show the 23 probable flags fail to communicate the Fijian identity, beliefs and values.
Any Fijian who sees the Fiji flag should see something of the Fijianness in his or her heart.
* Archbishop Peter Loy Chong is the head of the Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Suva. The views expressed are his and not of this newspaper.