In gleaming shopping malls and rowdy football matches, the Hong Kong protestors sing their new crowd-sourced anthem
The Hong Kong democracy protestors continue to inspire (and sometimes slightly alarm) those who are looking for grass-roots power to manifest itself in surprising and creative new ways.
This report from the BBC (embedded above) is actually an example of one of the oldest cultural moves in popular protest - the writing for, and adopting by, the movement of an anthemic and rousing song.
But the scenes are quite different from anything staged at Les Miserables. Crowds amass in shining mega-malls, singing lustily. The song is composed online, begun by an anonymous songwriter (who speaks in a mask and a disguised voice in the video above), and is disseminated digitally (no doubt phone to phone, as our piece on the Hongkongers’ remarkable activist innovations the other week showed).
During a World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday night, fans booed the Chinese national anthem and sang Glory to Hong Kong. They repeatedly chanted “Liberate Hong Kong” as they waved a black version of the territory’s Bauhinia flag, a symbol of resistance in the protests.
Many Hongkongers say the singing lifts their spirits and boosts morale in their fight for democracy and basic rights. Some, tired of violent clashes in recent protests, said the singing was a powerful tool of solidarity and determination.
“The song spells out our heartfelt feelings. It is a song that stands for our fight,” said a 33-year-old man who gave his surname as Hung, who participated in singing at the football match and at a shopping centre on Wednesday.
Hung said singing was a good way of uniting supporters of the movement, on top of other non-violent expressions such as human chains and Lennon Walls – where people post sticky notes with pro-democracy messages – in communities across Hong Kong.
“Why are tears flowing on this land? Why are people angry? We lift our heads, we reject silence and we yearn for freedom with our resounding voices,” said the opening verse.
Words like “freedom”, “glory”, “courage” pepper the song, which finishes with a verse calling for democracy, justice and freedom and “a return of glory to Hong Kong in this era of revolution” – a slogan frequently used in the current wave of protests.