The national flag of Indonesia was introduced and first hoisted on the day Indonesia gained independence. That was 17 August 1945. The flag goes by several names: The Sacred Red and White, The Red and White Flag, Red and White or just Bicolour. Here in Kupang you can see it outside governmental buildings, police stations, the Governor’s residence, and schools.
Indonesia is a relatively young country, so they try to impart the importance of national pride in the schools. It seems around once a month the school Erik goes to will have a flag raising ceremony. I (Peter) must confess, I was surprised when I saw this for the first time. All the children and all the teachers stand out in the school courtyard. There are speeches and the flag is raised up the flagpole. Whilst this is going on, a young boy will be giving orders to the other children, completely military style. All the children and teachers must salute (written in the law), and then sing the national anthem. It is interesting to watch the children standing out in the hot sun, sweating away, trying to stand to attention, and at the same time be six-year olds. For those of you who have children, try this at home. Ask your child to stand in one place without moving for around 20 minutes. Good luck 🙂
So, last weekend Erik told us that he was going to participate in the flag raising ceremony. His role was to hand a book to one of the teachers. This was not just any book, but the book that contains the responsibilities of every Indonesian citizen, which would be read out by the teacher. So, our young Norwegian/British boy would be involved in this very Indonesian of ceremonies.
The day of the ceremony we got to school in good time. Erik quickly stood in his place where he would perform his duties. Joakim, Daniel and I stood hidden on the sidelines (so as to not attract attention from the rest of the school-which usually happens when we deliver Erik there), as Joakim had PE that day up at the school, a little later. Erik seemed a little nervous, but did his responsibilities very well. At the correct time, he marched with the book under his arm, up to the teacher. He gave her the book, then marched back to his place. Once the teacher had read aloud the duties of the citizens, then Erik marched back to the teacher, took the book, and marched back to his place again. Very well done!
Later, the national anthem was sung as the flag was raised. At the singing of the anthem all the children and teachers saluted the flag. Here are the words of the Indonesian anthem translated approximately (as there is no official translation of the anthem into other languages) into english:
Red and White flag, The flag of My Homeland
Your colour looks strong and clear, Flying in a blue sky,
Red and White flag, The Flag of My Nation
Red and White flag, The Symbol of Sacred and courage
Ready we serve, For the nation and motherland
Red and White flag, Please accept my compliments