Tongan Pilgrimage: The Flag

    Tongan Pilgrimage: The Flag

    Tongan Pilgrimage: The Flag

    By Richard J Bell


    Walking on my journey as a Polynesian pilgrim, I stop to see the Tongan flag waving in the wind. I felt pride as it represents my heritage with the box or canton, in the top hoist corner of a red cross surrounded by white high up the flagpole.

                Standing still, I hear Tongan church hymns singing and harmonising as a flat-screen television pops up out of the grass. It switches on. The flag is waving on the screen and gently fades into the image of my computer as I see my hands typing

                Watching the memory of my eyes scanning the words on the webpage, I learn that the cross represents Christianity, white for purity, and red is the blood of Jesus Christ and the sacrifices he made during his crucifixion.  I read that in the kingdom of Tonga, 97% of the population are Christians.

                The television flickers off and sinks back into the ground as the church hymns fade. I sit and remember as a child, not understanding the reasons for colours my favourite one was red.


    .  Watching the flag wave in the breeze, I hear the choir's sound again, and the television re-emerges out of the ground. On the screen is an event attended by the Queen of and the men are wearing red coats.

                "Why do they always wear red?" I wonder.

                The scene changes to me sitting at the Tongan Language School, and I ask myself, "Am I supposed to wear red?"

                The teacher explains that in the presence of Tongan Royalty, all nobles show their respect by wearing the regal colour of red. Red is royal because of the colours on the flag. Relief spreads over me in a wave as I realise I've dressed appropriately.

                Feeling the breeze in the air, the chorus of Polynesian voices fades again as the television sinks back into the ground. Looking back at the flag with its colours of red and white, I now realise how much Tongan society has embraced Jesus Christ.


    Copyright © Richard J Bell 20th April 2021