Opinion: Unpaid advice about a new national anthem.POSTED: 10/18/11 12:16 PM
Whenever I am present at whatever celebration where people sing the national anthem, strange things are happening. The majority does not sing at all. Others sing a few lines and the chorus and others act like “humming” birds. They move their lips but they are not singing. When the song is finished, you sense an almost audible sigh of relief. (The same happens in Holland, by the way).
However, we cannot deny that the majority of St Maarteners love their national anthem. So why does Rhoda want to have another one? I think that I know why. The song is written and composed by a Dutch priest, a religious technical assistant. The melody is not really an example of Caribbean music. Listening to the melody I see hordes of Dutch Calvinistic farmers dragging their wooden shoes through the mud and certainly not Caribbean people dining and whining in Carnival village.
The text of our national anthem is a mixture of lies and insults or at least one can say that the island described by reverend Kemp does not exist (anymore). Examples? “You find an island there, so lovely small, with nations free. With people French and Dutch, though talking English much”. Nations free? The French side is governed by France and when Dutch side politicians do not do what the Dutch want they do not get debt relief anymore. “With people French and Dutch”? Where are the 100 other nationalities?
The chorus is not bad: it describes the beauty of our island before Claude and Theo changed it into a concrete desert with potholes and traffic lines. The St Maarten of the national anthem does not exist anymore. The last line of our anthem is: “May God the Lord protect thy coast”. Well, God must have been sleeping for 50 years because the whole coastline has been sold to foreigners.
Remains the question: should we have another national anthem? First I want to say that a national anthem is per definition a thing of the people. A new national anthem we can only have through a referendum. Do the people want a new national anthem? Personally I think that most people are happy with the song we have. It describes the beauty of the island 50 years ago and the people love that. So my unpaid advice to Rhoda: Let us keep the anthem we have. The people know they are singing a song about an island that does not exist anymore. But let them dream. They love to sing the line: “Thy donkeys keen I cannot forget” Let them dream about a St Maarten where donkeys were roaming the streets. And Rhoda, if you want to modernize the existing anthem, leave out the sentence about the donkeys. We could change that line into a line describing more the 2011 reality: “Thy traffic lines I cannot forget”, or “Thy slot machines I cannot forget”, or “Thy exotic dancers I cannot forget” or “Thy GEBE I cannot forget”, or “Thy potholes deep I cannot forget”.
My advice to Rhoda: have a referendum and I am sure the people want to keep the song we have. If Rhoda wins I treat her on a dinner in a restaurant of her choice.
Gerard Bijnsdorp, Happy Hummer of “Oh Sweet St. Maarten Land”.