October 10th marks Fiji Day in the Fiji Islands. This is the anniversary of two events. The first was October 10, 1874 when Fiji became a colony of England. Within a few years, the English sent indentured laborers from India to plant sugarcane in the islands. The second is October 10, 1970 when Fiji became politically independent of England.
That was the first day that Fiji’s flag as we know it today flew. The flag is blue, in reference to it’s location in the ocean with a Union flag in the top left corner, referencing the colonial history. The flag also features the coat of arms with two Fijian warriors on either side of the shield. Within the shield there is a lion holding a cocoa pod, sugarcane, a coconut palm, bananas, and a dove. Below the shield are the words, “Rerevaka na Kalou ka Doka na Tul" which means "Fear God and honor the Queen.”
Wouldn’t it be great to have a flag that portrayed Fiji’s diverse history and landscape beyond the relatively short history of British colonialism? We could say the same of most countries I’m sure. For Fiji day, my students designed new Fiji flags including their own symbols for love, respect, natural beauty, Fijian music, and community.