Celebrating 40th in National Colours

Vanuatu Flag

Red, Green, Yellow and Black are the four colours that will feature most on the 40th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.

• Red symbolises blood that binds the human race.

• Green represents the fertile greenery of the islands.

• Yellow stands for Christianity - the light that was shone by the pioneer missionaries who braved the once dark islands to bind the people for Christ.

• Black confirms the black volcanic soil that nourishes the land to provide organic food for the inhabitants.

Vanuatu is celebrating its 40th Independence Anniversary this month from July 23 - 30th, under the theme: “Prosperity for self-reliance and a resilient future”.

The population is encouraged to wear the national colours with pride and respect.

The country gained its political freedom from joint British and French colonial rule for 74 years from 1906 until midnight of July 29, 1980.

On that historical night, as a young reporter with an ancient camera taking black and white pictures, I watched as the British flag was lowered for the last time, to a melancholy tune from a lone bugle blown by a police man in British police uniform, standing as straight as a rod. It was midnight on Iririki Island in Port Vila Harbour outside the official residence of the British Resident Commissioner. In fact it was rumoured that the British used to own the island.

Forty years later this time on July 30, all 230,000 inhabitants of the archipelago are expected to connect on the same joyous day dressed in the four national colours.

Already string band and reggae artists are fine tuning their guitars and finalising the words into toe-tapping and head-nodding and body-swaying songs to make music to celebrate Freedom Day.

While shops are making money selling their fabrics in the four colours, tailors are sewing late into the night to sell their dresses, shirts and shorts and t-shirts to meet the increasing demand of the populace.

Chairman of the Independence Anniversary Committee, Fred Samuel, has promised the biggest celebrations ever seen in the country involving thousands of people.

He explains that the week-long celebrations in Port Vila will begin with a spectacular Victory Parade through the city on July 23rd.

“In terms of technology, the event will be live streamed to be enjoyed also by Vanuatu citizens living overseas”, he says.

All visitors and students are encouraged to visit the Vanuatu Cultural Centre to learn from an exhibition of historical pictures of the Independence Struggle, and who the leaders were that lit the fire, which burned throughout the islands until the country won its freedom from Britain and France.

“I can assure the public that there are more than enough interesting festivities for all to enjoy throughout the week long celebrations”, says the Chairman.

In Port Vila the historical Independence Stand which has been there since the Vanuatu Flag was first hoisted on Independence Day on July 30, 1980, is being enlarged to accommodate more people.

This is where thousands of people will gather in each group according to which of the four colours that stand out on their uniform. “This is deliberately organised for photographers to capture their once in a life time pictures,” says the Chairman.

Similar events will take place in the Provincial Capitals of Torba Province in the North, Sanma, Penama, Malampa, and Tafea Province in the South.

Information from Fanafo on Santo says at least 3,000 people will march from Fanafo into Luganville.

The countdown is on.

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