I had a suprising and pleasant experience yesterday. Visiting our local primary school I was with Year Six when their music teacher played them the video of the Jubilee song, which is entitled “Sing”. I was both delighted and mesmerised by it. You can watch it here and see if you agree with me. You can watch Gary Barlow talking about it here
The song is a good one, as one would hope for from Gary Barlow and his collaborators; but what chiefly touched me about it was the video, which is a stunning collection of images from around the Commonwealth. There were scenes from Jamaica, and from Maasailand; there were scenes that might well have been the north of Kenya, and perhaps the Solomon Islands as well, as well as several other locations that were unfamiliar to me. It is of course a Commonwealth song. (Is the girl singing at the start of the video a Samburu, I wonder?)
It is sometimes said that there is only one true believer in the Commonwealth, and that is Elizabeth II herself, and that the whole organisation exists purely to keep her happy. And it is certainly fashionable to if not sneer, then at least to discount, the Commonwealth as little more than a talking shop. Supporters of the Commonwealth cut a distinctly old-fashioned figure these days. But far away from metropolitan Britain, the Commonwealth counts for a great deal. And so it should.
It is worth celebrating our Commonwealth ties. The greatest of these is of course the English language itself, which is the medium of education in so many countries. When I taught at Tangaza College, in Kenya, there were students present from 52 nations, and we all got on splendidly in English which was for virtually none of them a first language, and for some of them a fourth language.
Other Commonwealth ties are less tangible but nevertheless real. It is good, surely, to belong to an international family. After all, that is what the Catholic Church is, and the Commonwealth is the secular realisation of a religious communion, a shared wealth that may not be material.
I personally am, I suppose, a very Commonwealth sort of person: I have lived in Malta and Kenya, and family members are buried in Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica, and various members of the clan are settled in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Trinidad. And that is something I, descended as I am from English, Scots, Welsh and Dutch wanderers on the face of the earth, like very much.
Do listen to the song, and do have a happy Jubilee!