Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Panama National Anthem

Panama is an isthmus (a narrow strip of land enclosed by water on two sides), and it's anthem is entitled, appropriately, "Himno Istemño". The anthem was first performed by citizens in the streets on the day of independence in 1903, and was fully adopted as an anthem in 1925.

Santos Amatriaim Jorge (1870 - 1941), composed the music for the Panamanian national anthem "Himno Istmeno". He was born in Peralta, Navarre, Spain in November 1870. After studying music at the Conservatorio de Madrid, he moved to the Isthmus of Panama in 1889 where he taught music. In 1892, he became the director of the military band of the Colombia Battalion.

The lyrics of the Panamanian national anthem were written by Jeronimo de la Ossa. He was born in Panama City on April 9,1847 and died there in 1907. He was a romantic poet who studied civil engineering in Chile. He later represented the Panamanian consulate in Chile and worked for the France Canal Company. His poems are characterized as simple and down-to-earth. His works were published in several journals and magazines, but his greatest verses were written while he was still a student. He wrote the poem La Fuente del Paraiso.

The stamp above is an overprint featuring the anthem composer and lyricist.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Senghor- Senegal Anthem Lyricist

"Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons" (Pluck Your Koras, Strike the Balafons)is Senegal's national anthem. The "koras" (a harp-lute) and "balafons" (drums) mentioned in the anthem title are native instruments to this African nation, and can be used in the playing of the national anthem. The composer of the music. Herbert Pepper, also composed the music for the Central African Republic anthem, and the words were by Senegal's first president, Leopold Senghor.

Léopold Sédar Senghor (9 October 1906 – 20 December 2001) was a Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who served as the first president of Senegal (1960–1980). Senghor was the first African to sit as a member of the Académie française. He was also the founder of the political party called the Senegalese Democratic Bloc. He is regarded by many as one of the most important African intellectuals of the 20th century.

Léopold Sédar Senghor was born on 9 October 1906 in the small coastal city of Joal, some one hundred kilometres south of Dakar. Basile Diogoye Senghor, Léopold's father, was a businessman belonging to the bourgeois tribe Serer, a minority group in Senegal. Gnilane Ndiémé Bakhou, Léopold's mother, and the third wife of his father, was Muslim of Peul origin belonging to the Tabor tribe. She gave birth to six children, including two sons. Senghor had also inherited from the Serers, apart his first name, his two last names: his father's name, Senghor (derived from the Portuguese for Lord, Senhor ) and the Serere's name Sedar (meaning "One that shall not be humiliated").

At the age of eight Senghor began his studies in Senegal in the Ngasobil boarding school of the Fathers of the Holy Spirit. In 1922 he entered a seminary in Dakar. When he was told the religious life was not for him, he attended a secular institution. By then, he was already passionate about French literature. He distinguished himself in French, Latin, Greek and Algebra. With his Baccalaureate completed, he was awarded a scholarship to continue his studies in France.

In 1928 Senghor sailed from Senegal for France, beginning in his words, "sixteen years of wandering." Starting his post-secondary studies at the Sorbonne, he quickly quit and went on to Louis-Le-Grand to finish his prep course for entrance at the École Normale Supérieure. He was there while Paul Guth, Henri Queffélec, Robert Verdier and Georges Pompidou were also studying at this establishment. After failing the entrance exam, he decided to prepare for his grammar Aggregation. He was granted his aggregation in 1935 after a failed first attempt.

He graduated from the University of Paris, where he received the Agrégation in French Grammar. Subsequently, he was designated professor at the Universities of Tours and Paris, during the period 1935-1945.

Senghor started his teaching years at the Lycée René-Descartes in Tours and taught with the Lycée Marcelin Berthelot in Saint-Maur-des-Fosses near Paris. Besides his teaching career, Senghor attended linguistics classes taught by Lilias Homburger at the Ecole pratique des hautes etudes, and studied also with prominent social scientists such as Marcel Cohen, Marcel Mauss and Paul Rivet (director of the Institut d'ethnologie de Paris). It was at this time that Senghor, along with other intellectuals of the African diaspora who had come to study in the colonial capital, coined the term and conceived the notion of "négritude," which was in effect a response to the racism still prevalent in France, turning the racial slur "nègre" into a positively connoted celebration of African culture and character. The idea of négritude would inform not only Senghor's cultural criticism and literary work, but also became a guiding principle for his political thought in his career as a statesman.

In 1939, Senghor was enrolled as a French army officer within the 59th Colonial Infantry division. A year later he was made prisoner by the Germans in la Charité-sur-Loire. He was interned in different camps but finally interned in Front Stalag 230, in Poitiers. This later camp was reserved for colonial troops captured during the war. German soldiers wanted to execute him and the other black POWs the same day they were captured, but they escaped this fate by yelling "Vive la France, vive l'Afrique noire!" The soldiers decided against executing them after being told by a French officer that this entirely racist act would dishonour the Aryan race and the German Army. In total, Senghor spent two years in different prison camps, where he spent most of his time writing poems. In 1942 he was released for medical reasons. He resumed his teaching career while staying involved in the resistance with the Front national universitaire.

Once the war was over, he took over the position of Dean of the Linguistics Department with the École Nationale de la France d'Outre-Mer, a position he would hold until Senegal's independence in 1960. While travelling on a research trip for his poetry, the local socialist leader, Lamine Guèye, suggested he become a member of the Assemblée nationale française. Senghor accepted and became député for the riding of Sénégal-Mauritanie, when colonies were granted the right to be represented by elected individuals. One occasion when Senghor showed his difference from Lamine Guèye, was when the train conductors on the line Dakar-Niger went on strike. The latter voted against the strike arguing the movement would paralyse the colony, while Senghor supported the workers, gaining him great support among Senegalese.

In 1946, Senghor married Félix Éboué's daughter, with whom he had two sons: Francis (1947-) and Guy (1948-1983).

The following year he left the African Division of the French Section of the Workers International (SFIO) that had given enormous financial support to the social movement. With Mamadou Dia, Senghor founded the Bloc démocratique sénégalais (1948). They won the legislative elections of 1951, and Lamine Guèye lost his seat.

Re-elected deputy in 1951 as an independent overseas member, he was state secretary to the Council's president in Edgar Faure's government from 1 March 1955 to 1 February 1956. He became mayor of the city of Thiès, Senegal in November 1956 and then advisory minister in the Michel Debre's government from 23 July 1959 to 19 May 1961. He was also a member of the commission responsible for drafting the Fifth Republic's constitution, general councillor for Senegal, member of the Grand Conseil de l'Afrique Occidentale Francaise and member for the parliamentary assembly of the European Council.

Meanwhile, he divorced his first wife and in 1957 married Colette Hubert, a French national from Normandy with whom he had a son, Philippe Maguilien (-1981). In 1964 he published the first volume of a series of five titled Liberté. The book contains a variety of speeches, allocutions, essays and prefaces.

Senghor was a supporter of federalism for newly independent African states, a type of "French Commonwealth". Since federalism was not favoured by the African countries, he decided to form, along with Modibo Keita, the Mali Federation with former French Sudan (present day Mali). Senghor was president of the Federal Assembly until its failure in 1960. Afterwards, Senghor became the first President of the Republic of Senegal, elected on 5 September 1960. He is the author of the Senegalese national anthem. The prime minister, Mamadou Dia, was in charge of executing Senegal's long-term development plan, while Senghor was in charge of foreign relations. The two men quickly disagreed. In December 1962, Mamadou Dia was arrested and suspected of fomenting a coup. He remained in jail for twelve years. Following this, Senghor created a presidential regime. On 22 March 1967, Senghor escaped an attempt on his life. The suspect, Moustapha Lô, was sentenced to death for treason and executed in June 1967.

He resigned his position before the end of his fifth term in December 1980. Abdou Diouf replaced him at the head of the country. Under his presidency, Senegal adopted a multi-party system (limited to three: socialist, communist and liberal) as well as a performing education system. Despite the end of official colonialism, the value of Senegalese currency continued to be fixed by France, the language of learning remained French, and Senghor ruled the country with French political advisors.

He was elected a member of l'Académie française on 2 June 1983, at the 16th seat where he succeeded the Duke of Levis-Mirepoix. He was the first African to sit at the Academie. The entrance ceremony in his honor took place on 29 March 1984, in presence of then French President François Mitterrand. This was considered as a further step towards greater openness in the Académie, after the previous election of a woman, Marguerite Yourcenar.

He spent the last years of his life with his wife in Verson, near the city of Caen Normandy, where he passed away on 20 December 2001. His funeral was held on 29 December 2001 in Dakar. Officials attending the ceremony included Raymond Forni, president of the Assemblée nationale and Charles Josselin, state secretary for the minister of foreign affairs, in charge of the Francophonie. Jacques Chirac (who said, upon hearing of Senghor's death: "Poetry has lost one of its masters, Senegal a statesman, Africa a visionary and France a friend" and Lionel Jospin, respectively president of the French Republic and the prime minister did not attend. Their failure to attend Senghor's funeral made waves as it was deemed a lack of acknowledgement for what the politician had been in his life. The analogy was made with the Senegalese Tirailleurs who, after having contributed to the liberation of France, had to wait more than forty years to receive an equal pension (in terms of buying power) to their French counterparts. The scholar Erik Orsenna wrote in the newspaper Le Monde an editorial titled: "J'ai honte" (I am ashamed).

Although a socialist, Senghor avoided the Marxist and anti-Western ideology that had become popular in post-colonial Africa, favouring the maintenance of close ties with France and the western world. This is seen by many as a contributing factor to Senegal's political stability: it remains one of the few African nations never to have had a coup, and to have always had a peaceful transfer of power.

Senghor's tenure as president was characterized by the development of African socialism, which was created as an indigenous alternative to Marxism, drawing heavily from the négritude philosophy. In developing this, he was assisted by Ousmane Tanor Dieng. On 31 December 1980, he retired in favour of his prime minister, Abdou Diouf.

Seat number 16 of the Académie was vacant after the Senegalese poet's death. He was ultimately replaced by another former president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

Senghor received several honours in the course of his life. He was made Grand-Croix of the Légion d'honneur, Grand-Croix of the l'Ordre national du Mérite, commander of arts and letters. He also received academic palms and the Grand-Croix of the l'Ordre du lion du Sénégal. His war exploits earned him the medal of Reconnaissance franco-alliée 1939-1945 and the combattant cross 1939-1945. He was named honorary doctor of thirty-seven universities.

The French Language International University in Alexandria was officially open in 1990 and was named after him.

The airport of Dakar, Dakar-Yoff-Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport, is named after him, and the Passerelle Solférino in Paris was renamed after him in 2006, on the centenary of his birth.

In 1994 he was awarded the Distinguished Africanist Award by the African Studies Association; however, there was controversy about whether he met the standard of contributing "a lifetime record of outstanding scholarship in African studies and service to the Africanist community." Michael Mbabuike, president of the New York African Studies Association (NYASA), said that the award also honors those who have worked "to make the world a better place for mankind."

His poetry was widely acclaimed, and in 1978 he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca. His poem A l'appel de la race de Saba published in 1936 was inspired by the entry of Italian troops in Addis Abeba. In 1948, Senghor compiled and edited a volume of Francophone poetry called Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache for which Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an introduction, titled "Orphée Noir" (Black Orpheus).

With Aimé Césaire and Léon Damas, Senghor created the concept of Négritude, an important intellectual movement that sought to assert and to valorize what they believed to be distinctive African characteristics, values, and aesthetics. This was a reaction against the too strong dominance of French culture in the colonies, and against the perception that Africa did not have culture developed enough to stand alongside that of Europe. Building upon historical research identifying ancient Egypt with black Africa, Senghor argued that sub-Saharan Africa and Europe are in fact part of the same cultural continuum, reaching from Egypt to classical Greece, through Rome to the European colonial powers of the modern age. Négritude was by no means—as it has in many quarters been perceived—an anti-white racism, but rather emphasized the importance of dialogue and exchange among different cultures (e.g., European, African, Arab, etc.).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The National Anthem of Guinea-Bissau

In 1963, a delegation from Portugese Guinea (as it was then known, as a Portugese colony) visited China. After hearing a song composed by Xiao He, one of the independentist politicians in attendance, Amilcar Lopes Cabral, said that he would like that composer to compose a similar song to inspire the people of Portugese Guinea to strive for independence. Using African music as his inspiration, Xiao He composed the music, which became the anthem of Guinea-Bissau upon 1974 independence.

Since Cabral's organization included both Portugese Guinea and Cape Verde, the anthem was also adopted by Cape Verde when their independence was achieved a year later. The two nations even proposed to merge, but this merger dissolved before it was realized, and a few decades later, Cape Verde subsequently adopted its own anthem.

Amílcar Lopes Cabral (12 September 1924 – 20 January 1973) was an African agronomic engineer, writer, Marxist and nationalist politician. Also known by the nom de guerre Abel Djassi, Cabral led African nationalist movements in Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands and led Guinea-Bissau's independence movement. He was assassinated in 1973 by Guinea-native agents of Portuguese colonialism, just months before Guinea-Bissau declared unilateral independence.

He was born on September 12, 1924 in Bafatá, Portuguese Guinea, son of a Cape-verdean parents. His half-brother Luís Cabral would later become head of state of Guinea-Bissau. Amílcar Cabral was educated in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal which was the colonial power that ruled over Portuguese Guinea at that time. While an agronomy student at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia in Lisbon, he founded student movements dedicated to African nationalism.

He returned to Africa in the 1950s, and began forming independence movements on the continent. He was instrumental in the formation of the PAIGC or Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (Portuguese for African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde). He also worked to form a liberation party in Angola with Agostinho Neto, an associate he met and befriended in Portuga

Beginning in 1962, Cabral led the PAIGC in a guerrilla movement which evolved into a military conflict against the Portuguese ruling authorities of Portuguese Guinea. The goal of the conflict was to attain independence for both Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde. Over the course of the conflict, the party won land gains, and Cabral was made the de facto leader of many parcels of land in Guinea-Bissau.

Even before the war for liberation began, Cabral set up training camps in neighboring Ghana with the permission of Kwame Nkrumah. Cabral trained his lieutenants through rigorous mock conversations to talk with their tribal chiefs and convince them to support the PAIGC and the independence movement before he trained them in military tactics. Later in the war, Cabral found that members of the PAIGC who successfully converted their own tribe to the cause of the PAIGC would not leave to help convince and gather the support of other tribes, he instituted a rotation program where his trainees would no longer be sent to their home tribe.

As an agronomist, he realized that his troops needed to be fed and live off the land alongside the larger populace. He taught his troops to teach local crop growers better farming techniques, thus raising the productivity of the farms to feed their own family and tribe, as well as the soldiers in the military wing of the PAIGC. During down time, PAIGC soldiers would till and plow the fields alongside the local population.

Cabral and the PAIGC also set up a trade-and-barter bazaar system that moved around the country and made staple goods available to the countryside at prices lower than that of colonial store owners. During the war, Cabral also set up a roving hospital and triage station to give medical care to wounded PAIGC's soldiers and quality-of-life care to the larger populace, relying on medical supplies garnered from the USSR and Sweden. The bazaars and triage stations were at first stationary until they came under frequent attack from Portuguese forces.

In 1972, Cabral began to form a People's Assembly in preparation for an independent African nation, but disgruntled former rival Inocêncio Kani shot and killed him with the help of Portuguese agents operating within the PAIGC. The Portuguese enjoined the help of this former rival to bring Amílcar Cabral to meet Portuguese authorities to sign a document stating the independence of Guinea-Bissau. The assassination took place on 20 January 1973 in Conakry, Guinea. His half-brother, Luís Cabral, became the leader of the Guinea-Bissau branch of the party and would eventually become President of Guinea-Bissau.

The National Anthem of the Central African Republic

The words to "La Renaissance" were written by the nation's first president, Barthélémy Boganda and the melody was composed by Herbert Pepper, the same person who wrote the melody for the Senegalese anthem. The anthem was adopted for use in 1960.

Barthélemy Boganda (4 April 1910 – 29 March 1959) was the leading nationalist politician of what is now the Central African Republic. Boganda was active prior to his country's independence, during the period when the area, part of French Equatorial Africa, was administered by France under the name of Oubangui-Chari. He served as the first Prime Minister of the Central African Republic autonomous territory.

Boganda was born into a family of subsistence farmers, and was adopted and educated by Roman Catholic Church missionaries. In 1938, he was ordained as the first Roman Catholic priest from Oubangui-Chari. During World War II, Boganda served in a number of missions and after was persuaded by the Bishop of Bangui to enter politics. In 1946, he became the first Oubanguian elected to the French National Assembly, where he maintained a political platform against racism and the colonial regime. He then returned to Oubangui-Chari to form a grassroots movement in opposition of French colonialism. The movement led to the foundation of the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa (MESAN), and became popular among villagers and the working class. Boganda's reputation was slightly damaged when he was laicized from the priesthood after marrying Michelle Jourdain, a parliamentary secretary. Nonetheless, he continued to advocate for equal treatment and civil rights for blacks in the territory well into the 1950s.

In 1958, after the French Fourth Republic began to consider granting independence to most of its African colonies, Boganda met with Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle to discuss terms for the independence of Oubangui-Chari. De Gaulle accepted Boganda's terms, and on 1 December, Boganda declared the establishment of the Central African Republic. He became the autonomous territory's first Prime Minister and intended to serve as the first President of the independent CAR. He was killed in a mysterious plane crash on 29 March 1959, while en route to Bangui. Experts found a trace of explosives in the plane's wreckage, but revelation of this detail was withheld. Although those responsible for the crash were never identified, people have suspected the French secret service, and even Boganda's wife, of being involved. Slightly more than one year later, Boganda's dream was realized, when the Central African Republic attained formal independence from France.

The National Anthem of Barbados

The Barbados national anthem was adopted upon independence on November 30, 1966. The lyrics were written by Mr. Irving Burgie, a USC music scholar who also performed music under the name Lord Burgess. When Mr. C. Van Roland Edwards composed the Music for the National Anthem he was partly blind. Because of his partial blindness he was assisted in his work by his two daughters Nannette and Eullia.

The music of the National Anthem of Barbados was composed by Mr. C. Van Roland Edwards who was partly blind at the time. Mr. Edwards who attended St. Peter's Church Boy's School was born in 1912 and had been writing music with no formal training. He was also a member of the British song society since 1933. Edwards wrote the Anthem for Barbados’ Independence in 1966 and was awarded $500 by the Government. He later died on April 22nd 1985.

Other compositions by Van Roland Edwards include: The St. Andrew Murder, The Goodman Song,The Federation Song and Welcome to her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth I. In 1967, Inspector Prince Cave of the Royal Barbados Police Band a graduate of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, re-arranged the music of the National Anthem. He had given it more harmony while keeping the original tune.

The lyrics of the National Anthem of Barbados were written by Mr. Irvin Burgie who was born in 1926 in America. He is the product of a Barbadian mother and an American father. Burgie attended the University of Southern California where he studied music. Mr. Burgie whose stage name was Lord Burgess performed in many cities of the U.S.A and has written for a number of internationally famous artists.

Other notable songs written by Irvin Burgie: Ballad for Bimshire, Island in the Sun, and The West Indian Song Book. He is most well known for the song "Jamaica Farewell", of which he wrote the lyrics. He also wrote songs for famous International performers like Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Buffett, and Carly Simon.

Mr. Burgie is a Life Member of the NAACP and often visits Barbados where he has instituted the Irvin Burgie Literary Award for Barbadian school children.

The National Anthem of Bangladesh

Amar Shonar Bangla (My Golden Bengal) is a 1906 song written and composed by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, the first ten lines of which were adopted in 1972 as the Bangladesh national anthem.

The word shonar literally means 'made of gold', but in the song shonar Bangla may be interpreted to either express the preciousness of Bengal or a reference to the colour of paddy fields before harvest. The song was written in 1906 during the period of Bangabhanga (Bôngobhôngo - 1905 Partition of Bengal) - when Bengal was divided in two halves by the British government based on religion. This song, along with a host of others, was written to rekindle the unified spirit of Bengal.

It is said that the music of this song was inspired by the Baul singer Gagan Harkara's song "Kothay Pabo Tare".

The first 10 lines of this song constitute the national anthem of Bangladesh. It was adopted in 1972 after the independence of Bangladesh. The English translation was done by Syed Ali Ahsan. Another poem of Tagore's (Jana Gana Mana) was adopted as the national anthem of India.

Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), also known by the sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath. He was a poet, visual artist, playwright, novelist, educator, social reformer, nationalist, business-manager and composer whose works reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He became Asia's first Nobel laureate when he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature.

A Pirali Brahmin from Calcutta, Bengal, Tagore first wrote poems at the age of eight. At the age of sixteen, he published his first substantial poetry under the pseudonym Bhanushingho ("Sun Lion") and wrote his first short stories and dramas in 1877. In later life Tagore protested strongly against the British Raj and gave his support to the Indian Independence Movement. Tagore's life work endures, in the form of his poetry and the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.

Tagore wrote novels, short stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays on political and personal topics. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are among his best-known works. His verse, short stories, and novels, which often exhibited rhythmic lyricism, colloquial language, meditative naturalism, and philosophical contemplation, received worldwide acclaim. Tagore was also a cultural reformer and polymath who modernised Bengali art by rejecting strictures binding it to classical Indian forms. Two songs from his canon are now the national anthems of Bangladesh and India: the Amar Shonar Bangla and the Jana Gana Mana respectively.

March on Bahama Land

"March On, Bahamaland!" was selected as the winning entry in a national competition, and was adopted as anthem and official emblem on independence July 10, 1973. The winner of the competition was Timothy Gibson. As a former British colony and current Commonwealth realm, The Bahamas retains God Save the Queen as its "royal anthem" .

Timothy Gibson composer, lyricist and educator was born in Savannah Sound, Eleuthera on April 12, 1903. He received his early education in Savannah Sound, worked as a monitor from the age of 11. At the same age he went to Arthur's Town, Cat Island, to join his brother, C. I. Gibson who was a head teacher and was given a job as monitor. He kept this post until he was 17.

When his brother was transferred to Buckley's, Long Island he went with him and again worked as a monitor for one year. The following year he received a job as head teacher in Scrubb Hill, Long Island. He later came to Nassau as a student-in training at the Boys Central School which was then located in Nassau Court.

He was later transferred to the Sandilands School as acting head teacher for eight months and then to the school in George Town, Exuma, where he stayed for seven years, returning to Nassau for a refresher course at the Eastern Senior School.

Following this, he was transferred to Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera, as head teacher and remained there for seven years before coming to Nassau where he took up the post as teacher at the Western Junior School, then located on Hospital Lane.

When the new school was built on Market Street, he moved there. He left the classroom when he was given a job as supervisor of music for Government Schools. His time then was divided between the junior and senior schools where he taught music theory and singing.

In 1961 he was made Assistant Inspector of Schools for music. He worked with the Family Island Schools and also the Bahamas Teacher's College as well as with schools in New Providence.

For many years he did the adjudication for the Family Island Schools during the Annual Music Festival. Many of the songs he wrote were used in these festivals.

Mr. Gibson received most of his music training from his brother C. I. Gibson who taught him how to read music and play the organ. Apart from his brother's training, he studied music theory at Trinity College London, and attended Seminars in Delaware. He was a choral conductor accredited by the University Conservatory of Chicago through a Correspondence Course.

His song-writing career began with "Nassau Calling" in 1938. He wrote other songs such as "Sailor Prince", for the visit of Prince Philip, "Your Majesty", for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, and "Hail Princess Britannia", for the visit of Princess Margaret. This title has since been changed to "Beautiful Bahamaland". He also wrote the National Anthem of the Bahamas "March On Bahama Land".

Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland;
March on to glory, your bright banners waving high.
See how the world marks the manner of your bearing!
Pledge to excel through love and unity.
Pressing onward, march together to a common loftier goal;
Steady sunward, though the weather hide the wide and treacherous shoal.
Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland;
Till the road you've trod Lead unto your God, March on, Bahamaland!

The Government of The Bahamas honoured this veteran educator by naming a school after him. Mr. Gibson was married to the former Miss Rosena Hilton. He died in 1979 at the age of 76.

Above, stamp of the composer, Timothy Gibson. Below, flag raising ceremony with the band playing the national anthem issued in 1983, the 10th Anniversary of Independence.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The National Anthem of Belize

Belize, formerly British Honduras, is a country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and speaking many languages. Although Kriol and Spanish are also widely spoken among the populace, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the south and west, and the Caribbean sea to the east.

Land of the Free is the national anthem of Belize. The words were written by Samuel Alfred Haynes and the music by Selwyn Walford Young in 1963. It was officially adopted in 1981.

Samuel Haynes (1899-1971) was an African Caribbean Belizean soldier, activist and poet. He was a leader of the 1919 riot by Belizean soldiers who had fought for Great Britain in World War I and refused to accept racial discrimination at home. He also wrote the lyrics of a song named ""Land of the Gods" which later became Belize's national anthem, "Land of the Free".

Also, prominent in the Garvey Movement, Samuel Haynes was once the President of the Pittsburgh Division, editor/writer for the Negro World and for a brief period the Official American Representative for the UNIA-ACL 1929 under the Honorable Marcus Garvey.

Selwyn Walford Young (1899-1977), usually known as Walford Young, was a Belizean musician and composer.

Slovenia Anthem Lyricist

A Toast (Slovene: Zdravljica) is a famous poem by France Prešeren. It was written in 1844 and has been Slovenia's national anthem since September 27, 1989. The most famous is its 7th stanza, for which Stanko Premrl composed a choral composition with the same name. Only the text of the 7th stanza comprises the anthem of Slovenia. In form, the poem is a carmen figuratum because the shape of each stanza resembles a wine cup.

France Prešeren (3 December 1800 – 8 February 1849) was a Slovene Romantic poet. He is considered the Slovene national poet. Although he was not a particularly prolific author, he inspired virtually all Slovene literature thereafter.

Today, Prešeren is still considered one of the leading poets of Slovenian literature, acclaimed not only nationally or regionally, but also according to the standards of developed European literature. Prešeren was one of the greatest European Romanticists. His fervent, heartfelt lyrics, intensely emotional but never merely sentimental, have made him the chief representative of the Romantic school in Slovenia.

Nevertheless, recognition came slow after his death. It was not before 1866 that a real breakthrough in the reception of his role in Slovenian culture took place. In that year, Josip Jurčič and Josip Stritar published a new edition of Prešeren's collection of poems. In the preface, Stritar published an essay which is still considered one of the most influential essays in Slovenian history. In it, he showed the aesthetic value of Prešeren's work by placing him in the wider European context. From then on, his reputation as the greatest poet in Slovene language was never endangered.

Prešeren's legacy in Slovenian culture is enormous. He is generally regarded as the national poet. In 1905, his monument was placed in the central square in Ljubljana, now called Prešeren Square. By the early 1920s, all his surviving work had been cataloged and numerous critical editions of his works had been published. Several scholars were already dealing exclusively with the analysis of his work and little was left unknown about his life.

In 1944, the anniversary of his death, called Prešeren Day, was declared as the Slovenian Cultural Holiday. In 1990, the seventh stanza of his Zdravljica was declared the national anthem of Slovenia, replacing the old Naprej zastava slave. In 1992, his effigy was portrayed on the Slovenian 1000 tolar banknote, and since 2007 his image is on the Slovenian two-euro coin. The highest Slovenian prize for artistic achievements, the Prešeren Award, is named after him.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The National Anthem of Ukraine

Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy" ("Ukraine's glory has not perished") is the national anthem of Ukraine. The lyrics constitute a slightly modified original first stanza of the patriotic poem written in 1862 by Pavlo Chubynsky, a prominent ethnographer from the region of Ukraine's capital, Kiev. In 1863, Mykhaylo Verbytsky, a western Ukrainian composer and a Greek-Catholic priest composed music to accompany Chubynsky's text. The first choral performance of the piece was at the Ukraine Theatre in Lviv, in 1864. The song was first the national anthem of the Ukrainian People's Republic, Carpatho-Ukraine and later the independent post-Soviet Ukraine.

Pavlo Chubynsky (1839 - 1884) was a Ukrainian poet and ethnographer whose poem "Shche ne vmerla Ukraina" (Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished) was set to music and adapted as the Ukrainian national anthem.

In 1863 the Lviv journal Meta (The Goal) published the poem but mistakenly ascribed it to Taras Shevchenko. In the same year it was set to music by the Galician composer Michael Verbytsky (1815-1870), first for solo and later choral performance.

This song's catchy melody and patriotic text quickly gained broad acceptance, but Pavlo Chubynsky was persecuted for the rest of his life by anti-Ukrainian Russian powers. He was sent to Archangelsk province for "negatively influencing peasants' minds." When his work in that region was recognized internationally by his peers, Chubynsky was sent to Petersburg to work in the Transport Ministry as a low-level official. He eventually became paralyzed in 1880 and died four years later. In 1917 the song with his lyrics was officially adopted as the anthem of the Ukrainian state.

Above is a prestamped cover issued in 2009, of the Ukraine Hymn writer, Pavlo Chubynsky, to commemorate his 170th birth anniversary.

The Anthem of Turkmenistan

The national anthem of Turkmenistan is called the National Anthem of Independent Neutral Turkmenistan (sometimes also Independent, Neutral, Turkmenistan State Anthem, a literal translation from Turkmen). The lyrics were written by the first president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as Turkmenbashi, Turkmen: Türkmenbaşy). Niyazov died on 21 December 2006, and two years after his death the Parliament adopted a law that changed some of the lyrics – all references to Turkmenbashi in the anthem were replaced with the people.

Saparmurat Ataýewiç Niyazov (19 February 1940 – 21 December 2006) was a Turkmen politician who served as President of Turkmenistan from 2 November 1990 until his death in 2006. He was First Secretary of the Turkmen Communist Party from 1985 until 1991 and continued to lead Turkmenistan for 15 years after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. He was known in English as Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov, the romanization of the Russian spelling Сапармурат Атаевич Ниязов of his Turkmen name.

Turkmen media referred to him using the title "His Excellency Saparmurat Türkmenbaşy, President of Turkmenistan and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers". His title Türkmenbaşy, or Turkmenbashi, meaning Leader of Turkmens, referred to his position as the founder and president of the Association of Turkmens of the World.

Foreign media criticized him as one of the world's most totalitarian and repressive dictators, highlighting his reputation of imposing his personal eccentricities upon the country, which extended to renaming months after members of his family. Global Witness, a London-based human rights organization, reported that money under Niyazov's control and held overseas may be in excess of US$3 billion, of which $2 billion is supposedly situated in the Foreign Exchange Reserve Fund at Deutsche Bank in Germany.

Niyazov became president at the transition of Turkmenistan from a SSR in the Soviet Union to an independent state; his presidency was characterized by a number of factors: an initial crumbling inherited from the centralized soviet model that in many respects was unsuited to function as a separate entity, large amounts of foreign income from gas and petroleum reserves (~2-4billion $ as of 2005), outside concern about press freedom and to a lesser extent religious rights of minority religious groups, a personal attempt to create a background for the new state of Turkmenistan such as writing and promoting the Ruhnama, promoting native culture (and by extension prohibiting foreign culture), as well the creation of new holidays with a specific Turkmen nature.

Niyazov became a substitute for the vacuum left by the downfall of the communist system, with his image replacing those of Stalin, Marx and Lenin; this coupled with his promotion of the Ruhnama and various other decrees, as well as the doting actions of the official Turkmen media gave rise to the clear appearance of a 'cult of personality'. The eccentric nature of some of his decrees, coupled with the vast number of images of the president led to the perception , especially in western countries, of a despotic leader, rich on oil wealth glorifying himself whilst the population gained no benefit.

On December 21, 2006, Turkmen state television announced that President Niyazov had died of sudden cardiac arrest. Niyazov had been taking medication for an unidentified cardiac condition. The Turkmen Embassy in Moscow later confirmed this report.

According to the Constitution of Turkmenistan, Öwezgeldi Ataýew, Chairman of the Parliament, would assume the presidency. Deputy Prime Minister Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow was named as head of the commission organizing the state funeral. Due to the imprisonment of Öwezgeldi Ataýew who, under the Constitution is first in line to succeed the presidency, Berdimuhamedow was named as acting president. Berdimuhamedow and the Halk Maslahaty announced on December 26 that the next presidential elections would be held on February 11, 2007.

The circumstances of Niyazov's passing has been surrounded by some media speculation, including that Niyazov had been the victim of poisoning. Some Turkmen opposition sources also claim that Niyazov died several days before the officially announced date of December 21.

The National Anthem of Mali

Le Mali (popularly known as Pour l'Afrique et pour toi, Mali – French: For Africa and for you, Mali or A ton appel Mali – French: At your call, Mali) is the national anthem of Mali. The words were written by Seydou Badian Kouyaté (stamp on the left) and the music was by Banzoumana Sissoko (stamp on the right). Adopted as the national anthem in 1962, its themes are patriotism, national, and African unity. It states the willingness of the people of Mali to lay down their lives for their nation and for liberty. A common theme throughout the song is the desire to strive for a united Africa. Its music is a traditional European style military march.

It was officially adopted less than a year after independence, in 1962. It is traditionally played at state ceremonies by the band of the Garde Républicaine of the Armed Forces of Mali. The Malian Young Pioneer movement of the 1960s translated the anthem in the Bambara language for its rallies.

Seydou Badian Kouyaté, born in 1928 was a Malian writer and politician. Born in Bamako, Kouyaté studied medicine at the University of Montpellier in France before returning to Mali. Under president Modibo Keïta, he wrote the words for Mali's national anthem, Pour l'Afrique et pour toi, Mali. In the Plan of September 17, 1962 he was named Minister of Economic and Financial Coordination; however, with the coup d'état of 1968, and the rise to the presidency of Moussa Traoré, he was deported to Kidal before being exiled to Dakar, in Senegal. Associated from its beginning with the Sudanese Union-African Democratic Rally, he was removed from the party in 1998 for having opposed part of its plan to refuse recognition to certain institutions participating in contested elections.

Kouyaté is also internationally known as a writer; even before Mali's independence, in 1957, he had published his first novel, Sous l'orage. This was followed by two other novels, Le Sang des masques in 1976 and Noces sacrées in 1977. In 2007 his novel La Saison des pièges was published.

Correia- Lyricist of the Anthem of Azores

The Azores are an autonomous province of Portugal, and have their own local, unofficial anthem- "Hino dos Acores" (Hymn of the Azores). The original song was composed by Joaquim Lima during the 1890s when the autonomy movement was growing. Originally without lyrics (yet several unofficial lyrics were penned to promote autonomy), the Azorean government asked Azorean poetess Natália de Oliveira Correia to compose official lyrics for the anthem. The government also adopted Teófilo Frazão's arrangement of the original melody as the official version of the anthem in 1980.

Natália de Oliveira Correia, (b. September 13, 1923 in Fajã de Baixo, São Miguel Island, Azores - March 16, 1993 in Lisbon) was a Portuguese writer, and was the author of the lyrics of Hino dos Açores, the traditional anthem of The Azores.

Correia was born in Fajã de Baixo near downtown Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel island in the Azores on September 13, 1923, daughter of Manuel de Medeiros Correia and wife, married in 1918, writer Maria José de Oliveira (Capelas, Ponta Delgada, May 26, 1892 - Brazil, January 1956). She had an older sister named Carmen de Oliveira Correia, unmarried and without issue. She moved to Lisbon when she was 11. She collaborated in the publication of various periodicals and was the deputy of the Portugues Social Democratic Party. She was one of the most important activists in the fight against fascism in her country, and a prominent defender of culture, human rights and womens' rights in particular. She is considered one of the most important figures in 20th century Portuguese literature.

Correia's deep affection for her native island's native beauty is demonstrated profoundly in the themes, images and symbols portrayed in her works, as well as by her association with contemporaries Antero de Quental and Vitorino Nemésio. She was much influenced by surrealism, Galician-Portuguese poetry, and mysticism, and her works span the spectrum from poetic romanticism to satire. She worked in many different genres: poetry, essays, theatre, and anthologies.

Correia participated in several political oppositional movements, opposing Estado Novo (New State) and supporting MUD (Movimento de Unidade Democrática in 1945). At one point, Correia spent three years in prison, under a suspended penalty, for the publication of a poem deemed offensive by authorities. In 1980 she was elected to Parliament as a member of the PPD (Partido Popular Democrático).

In 1991, Natália Correia received an award from Grande Prémio de Poesia da Associação Portuguesa de Escritores (Grand Premium of Poems of the Portuguese Writers Association) for her book Sonetos Românticos (Romantic Sonnets). In the same year, she was admitted to the Ordem da Liberdade and Ordem de Santiago.

Natália Correia died on March 16, 1993 in Lisbon. She was married four times, all of them without any issue: in 1942 to Álvaro Pereira, in 1949 to William Creighton Hyler, in 1950 to Alfredo Machado and in March 1990 to Dórdio Leal Guimarães (Porto, March 10, 1938 - July 2, 1997).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The National Anthem of Mongolia

The National Anthem of Mongolia was created in 1950. The music is a composition by Bilegiin Damdinsüren (1919 - 1991) and Luvsanyamts Murdorj (1915 - 1996), the lyrics were written by Tsendiin Damdinsüren (1908 - 1988).

Over the twentieth century, Mongolia had several national anthems. The first one was used between 1924 and 1950. The second between 1950 and 1962, and a third one between 1961 and 1991. Since 1991, most of the anthem of 1950 is used again, but the second verse (praising Lenin, Stalin, Sükhbaatar, and Choibalsan) has been removed. On July 6th, 2006 the lyrics were revised by the Mongolian Parliament to commemorate Genghis Khan.

Khatagin Tsendiin Damdinsüren (1908-1986) was a Mongolian writer and linguist. He wrote the text to one version of the national Anthem of Mongolia. Damdinsüren was born in Mongolia 1908, in what is today the Dornod Aimag (province).

As a young man, he was politically active in the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth League, where he was elected into the Central Committee in 1926, and eventually became an editor of its publications. Later he became the chairman of the Council of Mongolian Trade Unions and was involved in the collectivization and seizures . He joined the MPRP in 1932. In 1933 he continued his education in Leningrad.

After returning to Mongolia in 1938, Damdinsüren became an ally of Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal, the future Premier Minister and President. He promoted the switch from the vertically written classical Mongolian script to an adapted Cyrillic script. He was forced to do it as he was politically repressed and imprisoned and was threatened by capital punishment. Later he confessed abandonment of the Classical Mongolian Script as one of the mistakes of his life. Between 1942 and 1946 he was an editor for the party newspaper Unen(The Truth). In 1959 he became chairman of the Committee of Sciences, and between 1953 and 1955 he was chairman of the Writers Union.

Damdinsüren wrote poetry that was well received in Mongolia. He also produced prose and literary studies, and a translation of The Secret History of the Mongols into modern Mongolian. The language of his poems and prose were largely based on the oral literary traditions of Mongolia, which he developed into a classical language of the Mongolian literature of the 20th century. His novel Gologdson huuhen (The Rejected Girl) became one of the popular films of 1960s.

He created the first large Russian-Mongolian dictionary and wrote the text to the national anthem that was in use between 1950 and 1962, and in parts after 1991.

The National Anthem of North Korea

A year before the establishment of North Korea in 1948, the government of the then Soviet-controlled sector of Korea adopted a new anthem (the one in use at that time was the anthem of South Korea). Interestingly, not only does the music of the North Korean anthem sounds vaguely like the South Korean anthem's music, but they also share a title. There has also been a "united Korean anthem" created by blending the melodies of the two nations' anthems seamlessly, used by some to promote Korean re-unification. The lyrics of "Aegukka (Pattiotic Song)were written by Pak Se Yong and the music was composed by Kim Won Gyun. The anthem was adopted for use in 1947.

Kim Won Gyun, was a famous Korean composer, born in 1917 and died in 2002. He dedicated himself to the development of music and the training of reserve artists of the country with distinguished artistic talent. In his honor, the construction of Kim Won Gyun Pyongyang Conservatory was completed as a grand seat for musical education in the Songun era. The conservatory, another monumental edifice, covers a plottage of five hectares on the bank of the River Taedong. His bust can be seen in the main building.

The stamp above, issued in 1998, features the musical notation and lyrics of the North Korean National Anthem, the North Korean flag and the Tower of Juche.

The National Anthem of Sri Lanka

"Sri Lanka Matha" is the national anthem of Sri Lanka. The words and music were written by Ananda Samarakoon in 1940 in the Sinhala language, and was officially adopted as the national anthem on November 22, 1951 by a committee headed by Sir Edwin Wijeyeratne.

The first line of the anthem originally read: "Namo namo matha, apa Sri Lanka". There was some controversy over these words in the 1950s, and in early 1962 they were changed to their present form.

Ananda Samarakoon was born George Wilfred Alwis to a Christian family in Padukka, in Ceylon, on January 13, 1911 in Sri Lanka. In 1936, He had his primary and secondary education at Christian College, Kotte,presently known as Sri Jayawardenapura M.V.Kotte. His Sinhala Guru was Pandit D.C.P. Gamalathge. Later he served his Alma mater as a teacher of Music and Art. Samarakone left for Santiniketan in India to study art and music. After six months he abandoned his studies and returned to Sri Lanka, and changed his name to Ananda Samarakone, embracing Buddhism.

He was very much influenced by Rabindranath Tagore while in India and his fascination and the desire to imitate the great Indian musician would go on to take him in the direction of creating a musical tradition for the Sri Lankan people.

In 1937, the popular music of Sri Lanka comprised of songs derived from the North Indian Ragadhari music. These songs lyrics often contained meaningless phrases with little or no literary merit. Samarakone set out to create a form of a music that can be classified as Sri Lanka's own and came out with the song Endada Menike (1940) that paved the foundation for the artistic Sinhala music.

The love themed song unfolds in the form of a dialogue between a young village boy and a girl. It, poetic and beautifully rustic, became a success and Samarakone followed it with a string of successful songs in the early to mid 1940s, the period considered his golden age.

In 1945 Samarakoon's only son died at the age of five and the grieving Samarakoon left Sri Lanka for India where he pursued a painting career and held eleven art exhibitions there. Though his painting were critically acclaimed, he returned to music in 1951 back in Sri Lanka.

During Samarakoon's stay in India, one of his early compositions, Namo Namo Mata (composed in 1940, recorded in 1946) was nominated as the national anthem and was officially adopted by the State as the Sri Lankan national anthem in 1952. Critics attacked Namo Namo Mata, particularly the "Gana" significance of the introductory words (Namo Namo Matha) which designate disease and ill luck. Samarakone was not a believer in "Gana", and the criticism caused him to write numerous articles counter attacking his critics to defend his composition. However, without his consent, the introductory words were changed to "Sri Lanka Mathaa" so that the "Gana" significance now would designate victory and prosperity.

On April 5, 1962, at the age of fifty one, Samarakoon committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping tablets. Samarakoon's legacy lives on in his music and in the musical style he created.

The stamp above features the anthem composer Ananda Samarakoon issued in 1989

The National Anthem of Maldives

Until the late 1940s the state anthem of the Maldives was a melody with no lyrics. It was called the Salaamathi and was performed by the royal band on state occasions at the Etherekoilu, the official residence of the King.

In 1948 it was determined that the Salaamathi needed replacement with lyrics to accompany a new melody. The words were composed by a young poet and later a chief justice, Mohamed Jameel Didi.

Jameel Didi looked around for a tune to accompany his poem. His uncle, the chief justice Hussain Salahuddine, had just acquired a new-fangled clock that played an excellent tune at the stroke of midday, the Scottish folk song "Auld Lang Syne", and Jameel decided to use that tune for his poem.

Although the Salaamathi survived as the royal anthem until 1964, it did not occur to anyone to adopt it as the national anthem. In 1972, for the first time in history, the Maldives hosted a foreign head of state - Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The Maldive government of the time deemed it necessary to compose a different tune for the anthem instead. Hastily they commissioned the composition of a new melody. The new melody of the Maldive national anthem was composed by a distinguished Sri Lankan maestro, Pandit Wannakuwattawaduge Don Amaradeva. The original lyrics were used, with some changes to mark the fact that Maldives has been a republic since 1968.

Wannakulawattawaduge Don Albert Perera (born December 5, 1927 in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka), better known by his adopted name Amaradeva, is a Sri Lankan vocalist and musical composer. Primarily using traditional instruments like sitars, tablas and harmoniums, Amaradeva incoporates Sinhala folk music with Indian ragas in his work.

In the mid-1950s, Amaradeva in his Janagayana project consulted experts of the Kandyan dance tradition like Pani Bharata, Kiriganita, Gunamala, Ukkuva and Suramba in his path to understand what constituted Sinhala folk music. Noting that it mostly revolved around a single melody, he decided to add verses that would lead up to the central melody which would now be a chorus thus forming two parts (unseen earlier in traditional Sri Lankan music) removing restrictions that had existed earlier. In doing so, Amaradeva created a uniquely Sinhalese music style that stayed true to folk tradition while incorporating outside influences. His work was vital in the creation of the sarala gee genre practiced subsequently by artists like Victor Ratnayake, Sunil Edirisinghe and Sanath Nandasiri.

Pandit Amaradeva has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Philippine Ramon Magsaysay Award (2001), Indian Padma Sri Award and Sri Lankan "President's Award of Kala Keerthi" (1986) and Deshamanya Award (1998). He has also represented Sri Lanka in many forums including the UNESCO 1967 Manila Symposium, and composed the melody for the Maldives national anthem, Gaumii salaam, at the request of British Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Olympic Hymn Writer

Kostis Palamas , (13 January 1859 — 27 February 1943) was a Greek poet who wrote the words to the Olympic Hymn. He was a central figure of the Greek literary generation of the 1880s and one of the co-founders of the so-called New Athenian School (or Palamian School) along with Georgios Drosinis and Nikos Kampas.

Born in Patras, he received his primary and secondary education in Missolonghi. In 1880s, he worked as a journalist. He published his first collection of verses, "The Songs of My Fatherland," in 1886. He held a position at the University of Athens between 1897 and 1926. He died during the German occupation of Greece during World War II and his funeral was a major event of the Greek resistance. It ended as a protest of a hundred thousand Greeks against Nazi occupying forces in Athens. Palamas wrote the words to the Olympic Hymn, composed by Spyridon Samaras. It was first performed at the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern Olympic Games. The Hymn was then shelved as each host city from then until the 1960 Summer Olympics commissioned an original piece for its edition of the Games, but the version by Samaras and Palamas was declared the official Olympic Anthem in 1958 and has been performed at each edition of the Games since the 1964 Summer Olympics.

He has been called the "national" poet of Greece and was closely associated with the struggle to rid Modern Greece of the "purist" language and with political liberalism. He dominated literary life for 30 or more years and greatly influenced the entire political-intellectual climate of his time. Romain Rolland considered him the greatest poet of Europe and he was twice nominated for the Nobel prize for poetry but never received it. His most important poem ["The twelve lays (or words) of the gypsy]" (1907) is a poetical-philosophical journey. His "Gypsy" is a free thinking, intellectual rebel. He is a Greek Gypsy, in a post classical, post-Byzantine Greek world. He explores work, love, art, country, history, religion and science, keenly aware of his roots and of the contradictions between his classical and Christian heritage.

The stamp above is of the Olympic hymn lyricist, Kostis Palamas issued in 1960. Below, issued in 2007.

The National Anthem of Tuvalu

Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls. Its population of 11,992 makes it the third-least-populated independent country in the world, with only Vatican City and Nauru having fewer inhabitants. It is also one of the smallest member by population of the United Nations. In terms of physical land size, at just 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi) Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world, larger only than the Vatican City—0.44 km²; Monaco—1.95 km² and Nauru—21 km².

The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesian people. The islands came under the UK's sphere of influence in the late 19th century. The Ellice Islands were administered by Britain as part of a protectorate from 1892 to 1916 and as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony from 1916 to 1974. In 1974 the Ellice Islanders voted for separate British dependency status as Tuvalu, separating from the Gilbert Islands which became Kiribati upon independence. Tuvalu became fully independent within The Commonwealth in 1978.

Also the national motto, the title of the national anthem "Tuvalu mo te Atua" or "Tuvalu for the Almighty", also appears on the nation's coat of arms. It was composed by Afaese Manoa and adopted as anthem upon independence in 1978.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The National Anthem of Angola

"Angola Avante" (Forward Angola), was composed by Rui Alberto Vieira Dias Mingao and written by Manuel Rui Alves Monteiro, and adopted as official national anthem in 1975.

During Portuguese rule, Angola had an unofficial local anthem, entitled "Angola é nossa" ("Angola is ours"), used by the Portuguese colonizers and European settlers in Angola, it was not performed after independence negotiations were started, and a different anthem, "Angola Avante" was adopted upon independence from Portugal.

There has been a commission appointed to study any possible changes needed in Angola's national symbols (there are references in the national anthem to important dates and events for the previous sole ruling party, made obsolete after multi-party elections were declared), thus the anthem may change in the near future.

The above stamp is a souvenir sheet containing the lyrics of the Angolan National Anthem issued 10 years after the anthem was adopted on November 11, 1985.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The National Anthem of Finland

Our Land, Maamme (Finnish), or Vårt land (Swedish), is the title of Finland's national anthem. There is no law on an official national anthem in Finland, but Maamme is firmly established by convention.

The music was composed by the German immigrant Fredrik Pacius, with (original Swedish) words by Johan Ludvig Runeberg, and was performed for the first time on 13 May 1848. The original poem, written in 1846 but not printed until 1848, had 11 stanzas and formed the prologue to the great verse cycle The Tales of Ensign Stål ("Fänrik Ståhls Sägner"), a masterpiece of Romantic nationalism. The current Finnish text is usually attributed to the 1889 translation of Ensign Stål by Paavo Cajander, but in fact originates from the 1867 translation by Julius Krohn.

The Tales of Ensign Stål were much appreciated throughout all of Scandinavia. Up until the time of Finland's independence in 1917–18, when the song began to be recognized as specifically applying to Finland, Pacius's tune and Runeberg's text were often also sung in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Note that in the original Swedish text there is no reference to Finland (except for in verses 4 and 10, which are rarely sung), only to a country in the north, but the Finnish text explicitly refers to Finland. The poem's theme is, furthermore, remarkably similar to that of the national anthems of Sweden (Du gamla, Du fria) and Norway (Ja, vi elsker dette landet).

Some Finns have proposed that the Finnish national anthem be changed to Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, with lyrics by V.A. Koskenniemi (Finnish) and Joel Rundt (Swedish). It is also said that Pacius composed the tune in a mere fifteen minutes, with no idea that it would become so important to the people of Finland that they would eventually make it their national anthem. There are also those who simply prefer Finlandia as a musical piece, although critics call it difficult to sing.

The tune of Maamme has similarities with the German drinking song Papst und Sultan. Many believe that Fredrik Pacius intentionally or unintentionally copied parts of the tune. Another Finnish patriotic song, Sotilaspoika, composed by Pacius, also includes similarities with Papst und Sultan.

The melody of Maamme is also used for the national anthem of Estonia with a similarly themed text, Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm, My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy (1869). It is also considered to be national anthem for Livonians with text Min izāmō, min sindimō, My Fatherland, my native land.