Olympic Ceremony: A global triumph
Armed with the responsibility to top China’s Olympic Ceremony, Danny Boyle, famous for films such as Slumdog Millionaire, Sunshine and Trainspotting, produced a spectacle that was innovative, dynamic and shared a vision of Britain past and present.
At a cost of £27 million, the evening began with a throwback to the country’s Christian, agricultural origins. The scene quickly changed into the industrial revolution showing its transformative effect, with award winning actor Kenneth Branagh playing the role of world renowned civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
This segment of the ceremony was the most intriguing - whilst the industrial revolution was ongoing, the ceremony simultaneously showed the fight for women’s suffrage, the poppy fields symbolising the deaths of soldiers in World War One, the mass immigration during Windrush, before finally unveiling the Olympic rings, symbolising how each and everyone regardless of age, ethnicity or sex has contributed to making Britain what it is today.
The most heart warming and poignant part of the ceremony was the choice of flag bearers of the Olympic flag. The significance of the choice of individuals cannot be overstated and full credit must be given to Danny Boyle and his team for showcasing outstanding British and international campaigners and activists, whose political significance is parallel to the sporting excellence of the Olympians.
Doreen Lawrence, mother of Steven Lawrence whose murder exposed the internal racism within the Metropolitan Police; Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties advocacy organisation Liberty as well as a frequent contributor on the topic of human rights to many media outlets and Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time, whose sacrificed greatly over his stance on Vietnam, which cost him his belt and near imprisonment. Other flag bearers were Ban-ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, Nobel Prize winner Leyma Gbowee, who played a key role in ending the civil war in Liberia and Sally Becker, former leader of British charity Operation Angel, who became known as the Angel of Mostar due to her efforts in Bosnia during the war.
This was a particularly special moment. Their selection did not smack of tokenism or ‘tick boxing’ in terms of gender or ethnicity. Instead it shouted that Britain is a country content within its own multicultural skin and eight people who have selflessly sacrificed so much, finally had their moment of global recognition.
Fortune Achonna and Francine Fernandes