Since my recent return to Wales after a period of 46 years I have observed many changes, some for the good, others for the bad. What brought me back, after so many years? - Call it "hiraeth". It was a decision that was made for me, not one that I consciously made.
I am living actually in front of the school where I did my teaching practice, in Porth Tywyn. I even taught Welsh there at the time, but then I travelled the world; living and working in nine countries and rapidly lost my Welsh. Now I have to brush up on it and it is returning little by little. I need to make friends and meet Welsh speakers so that I can fully integrate.
Last week I visited the Plaid Cymru office in Llanelli and met Dyfrig, then rejoined the party. I was sorry to note, however, that the three mountains are no longer the logo, as I thought it was a good one.
I have many ideas for Wales, and they do very much tie in with Plaid's policies. I think the first priority is to absolutely emphasise as the main consideration "power to the people", as the individual is aware of being manipulated by commercial and monetary matters, whether from councils or big corporations and utility companies. Labour, which used to be a unifying force, has lost a lot of its appeal, particularly in the valleys of South Wales. This should be evident in the forthcoming elections.
That is where the effort has to be exerted. Government is always trumpeting and proclaiming democracy and its virtues, but actually there is little true democracy in the so-called democratic states. I see Plaid as the only democratic movement in Wales. Britain and America are even proudly attempting to impose democracy on other nations, such as Iraq. Obviously this is not working. No wonder they are alienating people who see their own development and raison d'etre to be increasingly threatened from without.
As Gwynfor did, I see Wales as a Celtic nation among the community of nations, yet it must work on removing the remaining elements of Anglicisation and dependence upon its larger neighbour. It needs to nourish its roots and rich heritage without antagonising those who have made Wales their chosen home. This is also the dilemma of the Baltic States, for so long dominated by the Soviet Union. At least now Wales has its boundaries. The Kurds and the Lapps have none.
The next concern is communication, establishing the infrastructure to link the north with the south, without having to cross the border to travel from one place to the other. Then, the institutions such as the National Health Service, the Police, and all services should be separated from Whitehall, and controlled from Cardiff. Ireland is the example to follow, as that country has achieved remarkable success, nationally and economically and is known and widely respected across the world.
Schools should not be segregated into English schools and Welsh schools, in my opinion. They should be truly bilingual schools, and Welsh given prominence, as the national language. There needs to be a unifying and cohesive movement across Wales, which will bring the nation together and maintain its independent structure.
Finally, I must mention the subject of place names. There is no reason why towns and cities in Wales should be portrayed with two names. Other countries do not practice this. First of all, the people are the Cymry and the country is Cymru. Its language, one of the oldest in Europe, is Cymraeg. Cardigan is Aberteifi, Carmarthen is Caerfyrddin, Kidwelly is Cydweli and so on. As things stand these alternative names are a relic of colonisation.
I see Cymru as being on the threshold of its great future as a nation among nations. Our forefathers succeeded in turning back the tide, at the time of the country's slide towards oblivion. "Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd", the book by Islwyn Ffowc Elis, depicted the state of the nation four or five decades ago. Much progress has been achieved but so much more needs to be done before the spirits of Arthur and Glyndwr return to inspire the nation to accept its rightful destiny.
Sunday 1 April 2007
The thoughts of Alan ap Sion
I recently received an email from Alan ap Sion, who had just returned to Wales after nearly 50 years, in which he raised some very interesting points. I asked him if he wanted to contribute to this blog. Here are his thoughts: