THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
If you have any doubts about the importance of the above ask people where a sustained campaign was engaged for decades to suppress their language and culture, after all there was barely a million native speakers in the land. Your thinking here that I am talking about Scotland but you would be wrong. I am talking about Estonia and that figure of around a million native speakers is highly significant in a country with a population of only 1.4 million.
The occupation of Estonia took place just before the start of the Second World War and for them the Second World War really only ended in 1991, the occupation of their country, initially by the Soviets, then the Nazis and then, at the end of the World Conflict by the Soviet Union for another forty plus years, until they regained their Independence.It was a very long war.
YOU DON’T NEED TANKS TO RESIST…JUST SHOP ASSISTANTS
The Soviet Union, all 289 million of them exercised full power over tiny Estonia who suffered, particularly in Stalin’s time deportations of ten of thousands of men, woman and children as they were sent to Siberia and replaced by incoming Soviets as the policy of Russification was enforced. Militarily Estonia was helpless but people could resist,and resist they did. Shop assistants were in the front line, when a Soviet entered the shop and wanted to purchase a box of matches the Estonian would pretend they didn’t understand. This way they forced the Soviet to learn the Estonian word for matches. That was repeated across the country at every possible opportunity. They knew they had to defend their language. They did in a multitude of different ways.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC
Estonians love music and have a very extensive tradition of choral singing. They also have the ideal opportunity every five years at their huge Song Festival which attracts crowds in excess of half a million people to display their talents. They perform on a stage that accommodates over 30,000 singers. The population dispersion of Estonia has one large city, several smaller ones that by Scottish standards would be classed as towns and the remainder very much resembles the Highlands in population density. The minute the Song Festival programme is published across the country the choirs, varying in size from a mere handful in small hamlets to several multiple large groups on the cities and towns all start practicing the songs waiting for this great event, which takes place once every five years when they all come together all wearing their various distinctive and colourful National costumes. It is the epitome of Estonian National pride. The Soviets recognised the power of this event and permitted it to continue during the occupation, replacing the Estonian songs with a new programme of pro Soviet songs. The Estonians went along with it as the final part of the programme allowed them to sing most of their traditional songs but none that aspired to Independence and Freedom.That all came to an end in 1988 when the Estonians, 100,000’s of them burst into spontaneous songs, singing their National songs of their love for their country and Independence. With so many defying the Soviet edicts they were powerless to stop them, the people saw that, the singing went on for days on end and the Singing Revolution was born.
This is the most powerful song that speaks of their love for their country. for an Estonian it is a hugely emotional song. a song that was forbidden for many decades
And here A leading Independence activist explains better than I can what language and culture did for them “A nation who makes its revolution by singing and smiling should be a sublime example to all.” The movement culminated in Estonia achieving independence, nonviolently, in 1991.
THE IRISH ARE NOT DAFT.
Across the water in Ireland, the Irish Government have not been slow in promoting Irish culture, Irish Song and Dance now has international fame and the Irish pub culture has been exported abroad to countless countries, all raising the profile and knowledge about this small friendly country.
Yet here in Scotland there seems to be a complete bypass when it comes to joining up our agencies to get the maximum bang for our buck. Whereas in whatever country Riverdance was being performed the Irish embassy in that country was not slow to make use of that event. The Embassy would often arrange an Invest in Ireland event on the same day, business people and their partners would be invited to attend and while the business people listened and took part in the Invest/Trade in Ireland presentation,the attractions of Irish Tourism would be being presented to their partners. There would then follow a reception featuring the best of Irish Food and Drink then coaches to take them all to watch Riverdance. Why the tourism presentation? Well as any inward investment expert will tell you the hardest hurdle to cross is to get your target investor to visit. By impressing the partners you DOUBLE the chances of that visit taking place.
SCOTLAND SHOULD FOLLOW THIS PATH. WE HAVE MUCH TO OFFER
Now I have some experience in knowing how traditional Scottish music is received abroad. I have arranged pipe bands, folk bands to tour abroad and I was in Tallinn when the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra played to a full house at a concert they played there. They performed some beautiful classical music to great appreciation but then lifted the roof off the building when they ended the final thirty minutes of so of the concert with the traditional Fiddlers Rally music which had the normally staid, shy Estonian audience off their seats and dancing for all they were worth to these fantastic reels. They still speak of that concert many years later. WE HAVE A BEST SELLER SHOW ON OUR HANDS IF ONLY OUR AGENCIES, TRADE BODIES, GOVERNMENT, TOURISM AND ARTS got together to sell it!
The Estonians used their music and culture to win their freedom in the Singing Revolution, the Irish use their music and culture to bring economic investment and trade to Ireland. I am merely suggesting we use our music and culture to build pride in our nation, to tie it in with trade events, to boost tourism and yes, to win our freedom by inspiring our people, displaying the interest and support for Scotland abroad, winning new friends and allies and making the most of the instantly recognizable advantages we have.
We have a well educated and productive people, we live in a most beautiful country with magnificent scenery, a very clean country with enormous natural resources. We have a history of exporting, our food and drink sector is the envy of countries across the world. We have a lot to share with other countries, we just need to get rid of the foreign neighbour who works every day to keep all this for themselves. We are a colony of England and we must fight to become visible and free. Only then can Scotland truly flourish and prosper.
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland.
BEAT THE CENSORS
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