The Flag I Fly For You
Fly The Flag is a unique collaboration between arts organisations and human rights charities from across the UK to remind us of the human rights we are all entitled to, and to raise awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights amongst young people.
This year, the participating organisations asked poets to write and record poems in response to Article 25 – – the right to food, shelter, healthcare, social services and security.
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well- being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
We selected Manchester-based poet, playwright and performer Hafsah Aneela Bashir for the task and, following a sneak preview at a poetry reading with Heritage Radio, we are delighted to be able to share a video recording of her poem, The Flag I Fly For You, on Human Rights Day (10 December 2020).
Other artists taking part include Keisha Thompson, Inua Ellams, Matt Abbott, Haris Ahmed, Amina Jama, Yomi Sode and Jolade Olusanya. You can listen to all the amazing entries at the Fly the Flag website.
Hafsah Aneela Bashir said:
‘‘I am Hafsah, daughter of Suraiya, daughter of Sarwari, daughter of Sharifa, daughter of Wazirah. Along this chain of ancestry, we have known what it means to be uprooted from our land, to be displaced, to have family members killed, to live in camps, to be colonised by oppressors, to migrate and start all over again in foreign countries.
It’s important for me to be involved in Fly The Flag because I passionately believe in an individual’s right to be seen, heard and valued fully. To feel safe, free from fear and to live with dignity. As much as we are living in times of great discord, the inherent beauty of our human story is one of strength, survival and unity. We must do more to recognise each other as the family we all belong to & uphold the same human rights for others that we’d want for ourselves.”
THE FLAG I FLY FOR YOU By Hafsah Aneela Bashir
is a myriad of colours, and no colour
sometimes white, sometimes see-through.
Soaring high along the landscape of us,
beacons of light blazing along our shores.
My flag is not hostile, it’s hope – has no rank,
claims no life or land, is a tapestry of a tribe
already making space for your name.
My flag is a handshake, an embrace – a friendly face
waiting for your arrival.
My flag is the mirror where we meet.
My flag honours your life, listens to your story,
sways as we speak, is the blanket on wet shoulders
along a rocky coastline, where everyone lives
and everyone eats and no one is tortured here.
My flag flutters across fields in peace
where no weaponry has pockmarked the land beneath.
My flag is not bound to any state – everyone lives
and everyone eats and no one is sent back from here.
My flag is a ladder, a torchlight, a raft.
My flag never flies at half mast,
unfurling from its pole as an offering –
a cloth for us to sit, break bread together.
My flag rises as a cover, as above –
so below – a shelter to rest your head.
My flag soars high as we exist side by side,
So closely intertwined, there is no you or I.
My flag has love at its core,
take my hand, sit close, tell me about yours.