Taking our cultural Voices Back: Prifwyl and Pow Wow

Almost four years ago, when I moved to Britain to get married, my husband mentioned to me that he had never been to the . It travels around Wales, north one year, south the next and has at various times been “right in our back yard” as it were.
My husband does not speak welsh, but he was immensely curious about the National festival of Wales despite the insurmountable hurdle of learning another language just to attend. To his credit, however, not only has he attended full weeks of the festival, but he has dutifully sat through Welsh lessons in the
and designed a Braille and tactile map of the Maes.
Whether in our particular microcosm or across the air waves on Radio Wales, the case for and against minority-language learning has been made again and again; some of us are strong advocates for our opinions. History plays its part, too, as the Welsh have watched their language erode for six centuries, only now to start reversing that trend. We know all this. We know about the language act, the act of union, (not capitalising deliberately), the education act and so many more injustices perpetrated on just one minority culture in the history of the world. And there are many other cultures who have experienced a similar fate, to lesser or greater degrees.
But the other side of the question is this: if the Eisteddfod is the national festival of Wales, the Prifwyl, (festival of festivals), the historical pinnacle of the Bardic tradition where

is celebrated, (see also a most excellent introductory book on the subject, in english, by Merered Hopwood, SINGING IN CHAINS – Listening to Welsh Verse, ISBN: 9781843234029 (1843234025) published by
and available in lots of places including Amazon), where our young people are nurtured on the Iaith yr Aelwyd to trump all languages of the hearth, why is it not proclaimed on every billboard from Pembroke Docks to Prestatyn, from the severn tunnel to the Menai Strait? Why isn’t there a concerted effort on the part of the Welsh Government to make sure that every household in Wales has an A4-sized poster, (because we all know that “every little helps”), that can be celo-taped in a window, should they choose to put it up, advertising the Eisteddfod, a sign of solidarity as important as the Jubilee, the royal baby or the Olympics?
Haven’t we been to see operas in Italian? Does the opera house apologise for not having the music in English? Would we go to Turkey on holiday and expect that everyone in the shops spoke English? Do we really expect to find fish and chips shops in france? Wouldn’t our heart sink if we did? Something in the mind-set of the Welsh has to change with regard to this meeting-place where so many unique traditions converge. We may not be able to speak the language, but surely if it is a part of our heritage as a nation, can’t we enter into the celebration of something that is so thoroughly ours? Wouldn’t we want to share it with anyone and everyone who sees the “Croeso” signs on our borders?
Naturally we must share news and updates of the Eisteddfod on welsh-speaking social media sites and in the Welsh-speaking media, but how is it that unless one is actively looking for the sign postings, one could drive within a kilometer of the Eisteddfod and never know it’s taking place?
The same kind of phenomenon is true in my “home and native land,” in a slightly different context. native Canadians, and in fact, indigenous peoples from territories all over North America celebrate summer festivals, too. A very large international one is held at the end of July near my home town. But you wouldn’t know it was taking place unless you actively drove off the motorway, down a county road and then turned onto another one, entering
, there’s a sign indicating which way to drive.
A lot could be said for the criminal historical circumstances that have confiscated the cultural voice of so many proud nations, on every coast, in the surrounding sea of incomers. But in the 21st Century, isn’t it time to rethink how to reclaim cultural voices, perhaps one A4 leaflet at a time?