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Opinion

We’re proud to be Yma o Hyd – now it’s time to learn what that means.

20 Nov 2022 6 minute read
Heledd Fychan. Picture by Plaid Cymru

Heledd Fychan

Whilst getting ready for school one morning last week, my nine year old son was singing ‘Yma o Hyd’.

He’s also been singing it in his class and on the school yard with his friends – an indication that Dafydd Iwan’s epic song and the Cymru Men’s Football Team anthem for the World Cup has captured the imagination and hearts of a new generation of fans.

And with Cymru’s journey at the World Cup starting tomorrow, we’ll no doubt be hearing a lot more of ‘Yma o Hyd’ in the coming days and weeks.

The video accompanying its release as Cymru’s World Cup anthem did not disappoint, charting similarly to the song key moments of Welsh history that has shaped us to be the nation we are today.

Watching it, I was left with tears streaming down my face, just as Dafydd Iwan himself as the fans joined him in singing during the qualifiers.

Those tears weren’t only because Cymru would be competing in the World Cup for the first time in my lifetime.

I cried because I was proud of what the video represented, combining the magic of Dafydd Iwan’s iconic song with key moments of Welsh football history as well as the history of our fight for survival as a nation over the centuries.

Truly belong

For me, it has also been emotional to see non Welsh speakers embrace the song, sing it and feel connected to the lyrics despite not knowing what every words means.

Proof that the Welsh language does truly belong to every person in Wales, whether they speak it or not.

Watching the video, all of the characters and events mentioned in the song and featuring in the footage seem to lead up to this very moment for both our national football team and our nation. What other song could be more appropriate, as Cymru steps onto the world stage.

Coinciding with the build-up to the World Cup was an important announcement by the Welsh Government that Welsh history is now a mandatory part of the new curriculum.

A given, you would think, that a country would ensure that all children and young people would leave school knowing the history of the nation they call home, the good and the bad.

But, unfortunately, a right that has been denied to generations of children. This will finally change, thanks to Plaid Cymru and others campaigning on this for decades and secured by the party as part of the Cooperation Agreement currently in place at our Senedd.

‘Rural brigands’

Time and time again we’ve been told that we have no history, and that we aren’t really a nation.

No wonder some believed the narrative of the likes of the former Labour Leader Neil Kinnock, who said that ‘between the 16th and mid 18th centuries, Wales had practically no history at all, and even before that it was a history of rural brigands who have been ennobled and called princes.’

That’s not to say that no children were taught any Welsh history. Many of us were, by our Welsh language teachers or often rogue and enthusiastic history teachers, and fantastic historians and writers like Dr John Davies, Gwyn Alf Williams, Raymond Williams and Dr Elin Jones.

But when the majority leave school knowing more about England under the Tudors than the history of the country they live in, surely there’s been a fundamental flaw if not intentional policy to repress Welsh identity.

In Plaid Cymru, we’ve always been of the view that Welsh history must be taught so that every citizen can understand the history of Wales, both the good and the bad, to make sense of the Wales we live in today and the Wales we want to see.

Whilst proud that we have finally secured this right, it is a failure on the part of successive Welsh Governments that this change has taken so long.

Sense of history

Dr Stephen Thompson from Aberystwyth University previously stated: “It seems to us that children across Wales, in English and Welsh-medium schools, are growing up without any real sense of the history of their own communities and are far more conversant with the history of other countries”.

Teaching the history of the whole of Wales to all our children will enable us to bring Wales’ communities together.

We must learn about our diversity, about how north and south, eastern borders and western coasts, all ethnicities, cultural and linguistic diversities are all equal contributors to the story of Wales.

As Gaynor Legall, from the history group The Heritage & Cultural Exchange based in Tiger Bay told a Committee in the last Senedd:

“I want the kids who live in the docks…to know about north Wales…as much as I want the people in Harlech…to know about the docks and about the coal industry…because it’s about Wales. This is our country, and we need to know the total of how we got here, and, more importantly, how we’re going to move forward. And we can only move forward together.”

Our children and young people currently know a lot more and the reign of Elizabeth the 1st than the ‘Treachery of the Blue Books’, more about Henry VIII’s wives than Aberfan, and more about the ring of iron, than about Llywelyn ein Llyw olaf and Owain Glyndwr. They have been denied access to their own history and sense of belonging and identity.

What we have now is an opportunity to give our children and young people the education that will allow them to better understand our present, and how it has been shaped by the past.

What better time to do this that when we are stepping out onto a global stage, with an opportunity to project our values as a nation.

So, let us all, whether we speak Welsh or not, join together in celebrating not only the Cymru Men’s Football Team but also this very special anthem: We are here, we are still here, despite everyone and everything, We are Yma o Hyd.


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Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
10 days ago

I would like to see Heledd front and centre of the national discussion whenever English ears are also listening. Coincidentally I stumbled across a YouTube video earlier where Heledd was explaining about our language on BBC Breakfast. It really was pearls before swine. Dan Walker is a well meaning ignoramus. Apparently Welsh is “hundreds of years old”. Yeah Dan, and the rest. Heledd did not hold back. References to the minoritisation of our language through the Welsh Not and the treachery of the blue books. Having to justify the existence of our language. The mindset of “our language bad, oppressor’s… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
10 days ago

If you read this Heledd, the downvote is for me not you. I upset someone earlier by not liking a song and they are following me around downvoting my posts. 😇

CJPh
CJPh
9 days ago

Wfft i bwy bynnag diawl cachiedig sy’n gwasgu’r botwn anghywir ar dy bost. Yma o hyd ac am oesoedd i ddod. Dangoswn y byd. Cawn weld y dydd yn dod.

David Gillen
David Gillen
9 days ago

That video was Heledd Gwyndaff from Cymdeithas yr Iaith

Different person.

Although not being a Welsh speaker you can be e forgiven for not knowin.

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
9 days ago
Reply to  David Gillen

My gods! You are correct. Thank you for taking it easy on me. But whilst a monoglot southerner I should be able to tell two different faces apart! Time for a stronger prescription for my glasses I think.
Sincerest apologies to both Heledds for my utter stupidity. Both of you are great advocates.

Ivor Schilling
Ivor Schilling
9 days ago

Plaudits to Plaid for securing this policy, for sure.

Can;t recall seeing Heledd Fychan on BBC Breakfast. Could you supply a link?

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
9 days ago
Reply to  Ivor Schilling

I screwed up. Different Heledd.
Brain fart on my part

Ivor Schilling
Ivor Schilling
8 days ago

Not for the first time. Take it easy though.

Chris Hale
Chris Hale
10 days ago

Excellent article

John
9 days ago

At long last.

Ehlyah
Ehlyah
9 days ago

Can we please realise that this song’s been sung with loud proud voices at the rugby for an absolute age?
Bloody football always thinking they’ve invented a thing.

Pobydd
Pobydd
9 days ago
Reply to  Ehlyah

It’s been sung all over Wales for an age.. it’s not attached to any sport. Celebrate it bringing people together

Sian Ifan
Sian Ifan
9 days ago

I have just read Heledd Fychan’s ‘6 mins read’ on what the song ‘Yma o Hyd’ means, and as Heledd was still but a mere twinkle in her father’s eyes or, at the least, still in nappies when the song was composed almost 40 yrs ago to coincide with the Cofiwn Movement’s protest campaign against the Welsh Tourist Board’s 1983 Festival of Castles, it may be understandable that Heledd, like most that sing the song today, do not know the full history as to how the song came about, so, I would like this opportunity to enlighten one and all.… Read more »

Ivor Schilling
Ivor Schilling
8 days ago
Reply to  Sian Ifan

Let’s have some links to the sites you mention.

George Bodley
George Bodley
8 days ago

Let’s hope the true history of the Khumri is taught in our schools instead of a Anglicise redacted version of our history .Right the way back through the migration trails from Israel the lost ten tribes .we should dump the English fairy story of our history and start believing in our own written records.

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