You’ll see the Bahamian flag swaying proudly in the breeze outside Parliament, government buildings or schools on national holidays. The light blue, black and gold colors seem to encompass the spirit of the Bahamian people.
Compared to most countries, this beloved flag is relatively new. The Bahamas only became an independent country in 1973. Queen Elizabeth II of England is still their official head of state (in the same way that Canada has the Queen as their head of state). The flag was officially adopted on July 10, 1973. No particular individual was credited with the design. It was considered a collaborative work by the newly founded Parliament.
THE DESIGN AND ITS SYMBOLS – WHAT THE FLAG REPRESENTS
The Bahamian flag consists of a solid black triangle on the left pointing like an arrow to three even stripes, two of which are light blue and the other yellow.
The choice of colors reflects the natural gifts of the Bahamas. The blue stripes at the top and bottom of the flag remind us of the sea and the yellow stripe reminds us of the sun. The black, equilateral triangle represents the unity and determination of Bahamians.
A Brief History of the Bahamas & Her Spirit
Christopher Columbus first sighted landfall in the New World in 1492 at Guanahani Island, which he renamed San Salvador. Columbus never made it to the actual continent of North America. Originally the archipelago was inhabited by Lucayans, a branch of the Arawak-speaking Taino people. The majority of the population was captured by the Spanish and used as slaves in Cuba in the early 1500s. The islands were almost deserted from 1513 until 1648. Except, of course, for pirates! It is so very fitting that a portion of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series was filmed here.
When English colonists from Bermuda finally settled on the island of Eleuthera in 1718, the Bahamas became a British colony. The Bahamas’ relationship with Europe began in slavery, as it became a significant connection to freedom and the abolishment of slavery throughout the Americas. The British ended slavery in 1807 and resettled many Africans liberated from slave ships here. Hundreds of American slaves and Black Seminoles also escaped to the islands from Florida. However, slavery was not completely abolished in the Bahamas until 1834.
FLAG ETIQUETTE IN BAHAMIAN CULTURE
There are rules on how to handle and use the flag. For a funeral, the Bahamian flag should be draped over the coffin covering the top completely. The black triangle on the flag should be placed over the end where the head of the deceased lies and point down the body. The flag will remain on the coffin throughout the service until the coffin is lowered into the grave.
When the flag is removed, it should be folded carefully; the black triangle should never be displayed pointing upwards or pointing at a person.
The Bahamas also has its own pledge of allegiance to its flag:
“I Pledge my allegiance to the flag and to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for which it stands, one people united in love and service.”
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