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Date: 04/07/22

Cerdded Ymlaen

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Wel, mi oedd yn rhywbeth i mi groesi oddi ar fy rhestr fwced (rhestr nad ydyw'n bod, gyda llaw).

Yn wreiddiol, y bwriad oedd cynnal gorymdaith a rali dros annibyniaeth yn Wrecsam ym Mis Ebrill 2020, ond wrth gwrs ddaeth cyfaill bach i roi taw ar bob un digwyddiad o'r math, ac mae wedi cymryd hyd ganol y flwyddyn hon i'w hail-drefnu. Hon fuasai'r orymdaith gyntaf o'i math yn unman am y nesaf peth at dair blynedd, ac roedd hi'n anochel y buasai 'na amheuon ynglŷn faint o'r tn oedd wedi mynd o'r mudiad yn y cyfamser.

Mae'n rhaid i mi ddweud eto nad oeddwn i wedi meddwl erioed y gwelwn i'r math beth yn digwydd yn fy nhref (sorri, fy ninas) i, gan ei bod hi mor agos at y ffin fel y mae wedi bod erioed wedi'i chlymu'n rhy dynn yn anwes Caer a'r cyffiniau i hybu unrhyw deimlad o wahanrwydd.

Mi oedd ansicrwydd mawr ynglŷn 'm rhan i yn yr orymdaith gan fod mater deuluol ddifrifol yr oedd yn rhaid i mi fynd i'r afael fo wedi codi ar fore Sadwrn, ond mi benderfynais i fynd er gwaethaf hynny, ac ar 11yb mi ddaliais y bws rhif 14 i lawr i'r dref. Wrth nesu at ganol y dref, mi oedd nifer o bobl efo baneri i'w gweld, ac mi biciais i lawr i Sgwr Y Frenhines, lle roedd nifer o stondinau yn gysylltiedig 'r rali wedi eu codi'n barod.

Ffoto o Sgwr Y Frenhines, Wrecsam, efo stondinau arno

Mi grwydrais i am rai munudau i weld a oedd 'na unrhyw un yr oeddwn yn ei nabod; roedd 'na un unigolyn nad oeddwn i wedi'i weld ers dyddiau coleg bron i ddeugain mlynedd yn l yr oeddwn i'n disgwyl i'w weld, ond doedd o ddim lle roeddwn i'n disgwyl iddo fod (mi oedd o yno, achos mi welais i Dwt ganddo fo pan oedd o ar ei ffordd adref ar trn wedyn); yn rhy brysur, bid siwr. Mi oedd pawb yn ddieithr, ac yn y diwedd mi gerddais i rownd pen gogleddol swyddfeydd y Cyngor i Llwyn Isaf.

(Ar ddechrau'r wythnos, mi oedd y Cyngor wedi gwneud ymdrech cachgaiddd i rwystro'r peth yn gyfangwbl wrth i ryw swyddog anetholedig gyhoeddi'n sydyn nad oedd y Cyngor am 'ganiatu' i unrhyw beth o'r math ddigwydd naill ai ar lawnt Llwyn Isaf nac ar goncrit Sgwr Y Frenhines chwaith, gan honni nad ydyn nhw byth yn caniatu unrhwybeth y maen nhw'n ystyried yn 'wleidyddol', er nad oedd y cyngor yn medru dweud wrth neb ar ba bolisi ffurfiol yr oedden nhw'n seilio'r penderfyniad. Gan fod y cyngor (sydd dan reolaeth grwp o Doraid agored a rhai slei sy'n honni eu bod nhw'n 'annibynol') wedi caniatu - wedi hyrwyddo'n frwd, yn wir - pethau oedd yn dathlu parti 'Saith Deg Mlynedd Heb Farw' Leuas Battenberg a chyhoeddusrwydd am ddim i luoedd militaraidd yr Ymherodaeth, doedd y penderfyniad ddim yn gwneud synnwyr, lleiaf oll i drefnwyr y Rali a ddatganodd yn gadarn eu bod nhw am fynd ymlaen hi beth bynnag a ddywed y Cyngor. Yn y foment honno, cafodd y twmffat swyddog oedd yn amlwg wedi gorymestyn ei rymoedd a'i allu ei daflu o dan y bws gan arweinwyr gwleidyddol y cyngor).

Wrth gerdded o fan i fan ar y lawnt, mi welais i dorf o gryn faint, ond dim byd a oedd yn awgrymu'r rhifoedd yr oedd y trefnwyr yn datgan eu bod nhw'n ei disgwyl. Ond eto, mi oedd cryn nifer ar y Sgwr o hyd ac mi oedd eraill yn cyrraedd o bedwar ban. Yna, cododd un o'r trefnwyr, y Cyngorydd Marc Jones (rhywun arall yr oeddwn i'n ei nabod o ddyddiau Aber) i gyflwyno prif symbylydd IndyFest Wrecsam - a oedd wedi rhedeg trwy'r dyddiau yn arwain at y Rali - Pol Wong (ac mi oeddwn yn ei nabod o ers dyddiau ysgol, ond cefais i 'mo'r cyfle i ddal i fyny fo - petasai o wedi fy 'nabod i ers cyhyd, wrth gwrs - oherwydd iddo fod mor brysur wrth galon y digwyddiadau; yr agosaf ddethum ato fo oedd ei weld o o bellter o wyth troedfedd wrth iddo neidio dros y clawdd metal o gwmpas y lawnt efo'r sioncrwydd y disgwyliech chi gan fynach Shaolin fel ef. Rhoes Pol groeso byr ond brwd i bawb, ac mi oedden ni'n barod i fynd. Wel, bron. Efallai fel cic olaf o draha (neu, wrth gofio am bwy 'rydan ni'n sn, o anallu dybryd), mi oedd rhan fwya'r giatiau yn y clawdd wedi'u cloi, ac mi oedd yn rhaid i'r dorf symud rownd pen draw'r clawdd neu drwy'r ychydig o fylchau a oedd ar gael ynddo er mwyn ffurio'r orymdaith.

Ffoto o dorf yn ymgasglu

O'r diwedd, ac efo Band Cambria yn arwain, dyna ni'n brasgamu ar hyd cefn Llwyn Isaf tuag at y Sgwr. Wel, a bod yn onest, mi oedd 'na gryn siyfflan wrth i ni fynd ar hyd ochr ddeuheuol adeilad y Cyngor. Ond cyn bo hir mi oeddem ni'n symud yn rhwyddach, ond yna ddaeth y cyntaf o'r ddau newid i'r llwybr o'r hyn a fwriedid yn wreiddiol. Yn lle mynd i fyny Stryt Yr Arglwydd a throi i'r chwith ar hyd Stryt Y Dug, ac i'r chwith eto i lawr Stryd Y Rhaglaw a Stryt Yr Hb, mi aethom i fyny Stryt Argyle, dan y bwa cyferbyn 'r Horse & Jockey (a dyma gysylltiad arall efo'r gorffenol i mi, gan i mi weithio mewn bodolaeth flaenorol mewn swyddfa o oedd ar ben y bwa hwnnw).

Ffoto o dorf yn gorymdeithio

Mi aethom ni i'r chwith i lawr Stryd Yr Hb efo baneri'r cenhedloedd (wel, y rhai sy'n cyfrif; ein baneri amrywiol ein hunain - Y Ddraig, Glyndŵr, Dewi Sant - Yr Alban, Catalunya, Llydaw, Cernyw) yn anelu at eglwys San Silyn.

Ffoto o dorf efo baneri

I'r chwith eto ac i lawr y Stryd Fawr cyn i ni droi i'r dde (er mwyn newid) gerbron y Wynnstay Arms i lawr Stryt Yorke ac i'r chwith unwaith eto ar hyd Stryt Twtil o dan gysgod hen fragdy Border efo'i simdde briciau coch tal.

Ffoto o dorf yn gorymdeithio

Ymlaen ni - rhai'n fwy egnol na'r llall, a dyna pam fod yr orymdaith yn edrych braidd yn denau mewn mannau - ar hyd y llwybr troed ar ochr Rhodfa San Silyn ac i fyny Allt Y Dref.

(Erbyn hyn, mi oeddwn i tua'r cefn, yn rhannol oherwydd i mi stopio pob rhyw ychydig o lathenni i dynnu lluniau).

Yna'r ail newid: yn lle troi i'r chwith a mynd yn l i fyny Stryd Yr Hb, dyma ni yn rhoi i'r sawl oedd yn siopa neu'n tancio ar hyd Y Stryt Fawr ail gyfle i'n gweld ni, cyn i ni droi i'r chwith wrth y Wynnstay ac i fyny Stryt Caer i gyrraedd yn l ar Lwyn Isaf o'r ochr arall.

Ac o'r diwedd, dyna ni, pawb wedi ymgasglu yn yr un man. Edrychais o gwmpas eto am rywun yr oeddwn i'n ei nabod (gan i mi gael sgwrs fer efo'r Parch. Aled Lewis Evans, a oedd - tri-deg-saith o flynyddoedd yn l bellach - wedi fy rhoi ar y radio am y tro cyntaf), ond nid oedd y cyn-gydweithiwr yr oeddwn i wedi disgwyl i'w weld ddim yno; neu, o leiaf, doedd o ddim ble 'roeddwn innau.

Mi gymerais i rai munudau yn edrych ar y sawl fu yno yn cyd-ddathlu bodolaeth ein cenedl, ei safiad yng gwyneb traha trefedigaethol a'i phenderfyniad i atal y math hyfdra; mi oedd yr ystad oedran yn gyfan, o fabannod i ddynion a gwragedd a oedd yn edrych fel petai nhw wedi bod o blaid annibyniaeth ers dyddiau Saunders Lewis; mi oedd y gytbwysedd rhyw a rhywiogaeth yn ymddangos yn ddigon sownd (bu bron i 'mhen gael ei lapio mewn baner Falchder enfawr wrth fynd i lawr Stryt Yr Hb); welais i ddim cymaint hynny o bobl nad oeddynt yn groenwyn, er bod ambell un yno (lle am efengylu pellach, tybiwn i). A chymryd popeth efo'i gilydd, croesdoriad da o'n cymdeithas. O, ac mi oedd 'na gryn nifer o gŵn o bob siap hefyd.

Ac wrth gwrs, mi oedd 'na faneri, baneri, baneri.

Cododd Marc Jones i'r llwyfan eto i gyflwyno'r siaradwyr. Dwi ddim yn cofio'r drefn gysct rwan ond cawsom ni'r bardd lleol Evrah Rose; y Cynghorydd Carrie Harper; y cyfreithiwr a darlithydd Dylan Rhys Jones; y digrifwr Tudur Owen; y newyddiadurwraig Roopa Vyas; a rhyw foi o'r hyn sy'n galw ei hunan yn 'Labour For An Independent Wales' (a waeddodd trwy'r amser, ac mi oedd yn meddwl mai ein problem ni ydy'r ffaith fod yna lywodraeth Doraidd yn Llundain yn hytrach na'r ffaith fod ein gwlad yn cael ei rheoli o San Staffan o gwbl; mae hynny'n adlewyrchu'r cyfaddefiad ganddynt y llynedd y buasai eu diddordeb mewn annibyniaeth yn pylu petai 'na lywodraeth asgell chwith yn Llundain). Hefyd, mi oedd negeseuon o gefnogaeth gan Lywydd Sinn Fin Mary Lou McDonald a gan Oriol Junqueras, un o'r arweinwyr etholedig Catalan gafodd eu carcharu gan y wladwriaeth drefedigaethol Castilaidd wedi pleidlais annibyniaeth 2017.

Yna, cyhoeddodd Marc yr amcangyfrif o faint o bobl oedd yn y rali; rhwng chwech ac wyth mil. Rŵan, y tro diwethaf i mi fod mewn torf o'r math faint oedd ar y Cae Ras tua 1978, ac felly doedd gen i ddim llinyn mesur diweddar am gyfrif torf dim ond trwy edrych arni, ond mi oedd Marc yn ein sicrhau ni mai dyna'r rhif a roddwyd iddo fo gan yr heddlu eu hunain.

(Doedd hynny ddim yn ddigon da i Lais Yr Ymherodraeth, beth bynnag. Yn yr adroddiad yma (a gyhoeddwyd dros awr wedi i'r rali orffen, yn yr un modd nad oedd y Bb wedi dweud dim am yr holl beth yn ystod yr wythnos flaenorol), mae'n nhwn'n dweud:

O wefan y BBC

Sylwch ar y geiriau: 'wedi honni' am y rhif ddaeth o'r trefnwyr - ac felly o'r heddlu - ond 'awgrymu' (nýj, nýj!) am yr 'adroddiadau eraill' o ffigwr llawer is. Ac o ble ddaeth yr 'adroddiadau eraill' yma, te? Un hecsyn o'r cyfryngau corfforiaethol ar Twitter? Neu i lawr yr hotlein y mae gan y Llywodraethwr Cyffredinol Trefedigaethol Hart i EBC Kerdiff? A ydy'r EBC bellach yn anfodlon i gredu hyd yn oed Plod Y Gog bellach?)

Nodyn: Mae nhw wedi newid y stori bellach i ddweud "...o leiaf 5000...". Ie, mae hynny cryn dipyn yn fwy na 3000, on'd ydy, y giarffs?

Ac yna, ddaeth y seren ei hun. Efo un o'i hen ganeuon yn tynnu sylw rhyngwladol ar l iddi gael ei defnyddio i hybu ein pldroedwyr i lwyddiant newydd, rhoes Dafydd Iwan araith fyrfyfyr ond efo'r angerdd sydd wedi ei gario o fod yn ymgyrchydd, trwy giatiau un o garchardai Lloegr i ddod yn fwy o symbol bellach nac o ddyn cyffredin. Gorffenodd gan ein harwain ni - a capella - trwy un pennill a chytgan Yma O Hyd cyn gwneud yr un peth ar gyfer ein hanthem swyddogol.

Pan ddaeth y band ymlaen i'r llwyfan i dechrau'r adloniant cerddorol, mi adewais i'r lle. Rhywsut, doeddwn i ddim yn teimlo'r un mor frwd ag yr oeddwn i wedi disgwyl i mi deimlo. Dwi'n swir fod hynny'n ymwneud llawer mwy 'r fater deuluol achosodd nos bron yn ddi-gwsg ac a oedd yn pwyso'n drwm ar fy meddwl o hyd yn hytrach nag unrhyw wendidau yn y digwyddiad ei hun. Ond, wrth i mi fynd adref eto ar y 14, myfyriais fy mod i wedi dangos fy ochr, wedi gwneud safiad yng nghwmni miloedd o bobl eraill nad oeddyn nhw'n teimlo'r un angen bellach i ofnu ymateb pobl eraill, neu i deimlo'n swil am eu hymateb nhw eu hunain.

Mae'r rhod yn troi. Ymlaen!

********

Walking On

Well it was something to cross off the bucket list, I suppose; you know, the bucket list I don't have.

The march and rally for independence in Wrexham was originally intended for April 2020, but of course a tiny friend put a stop to all such activities just before that, and it has taken until the middle of this year for everything to be rearranged. It was to be the first such manifestation anywhere for nearly three years, and there had to be doubts about whether too much momentum had been lost in the meantime.

I have to say again that I never thought that I would ever live to see such an event in this town (sorry, city); it's so close to the border that it has always been too tightly woven into the sprawl of Greater Chester to encourage any sentiment of different-ness

My own participation was thrown into serious doubt on Saturday morning by an urgent family issue which needed to be addressed, but I resolved to go after all and 1100 hours saw me catch the 14 down into town. Approaching the town centre, some people with flags and banners furled could be seen, and I made my way down to Queen's Square where some stalls associated with the rally had been set up.

Photo of Queen's Square, Wrexham, with stalls

I wandered around for a few minutes to see if there was anyone I knew; there was one individual I had last seen at Uni nearly forty years ago whom I had expected to encounter, but he must have been otherwise engaged and wasn't where I had expected him to be (I know he was there though, because I saw a Tweet from him when he was on his way home on the train). All were strangers, however, and eventually I made my way round the northern end of the Council offices to Llwyn Isaf.

(The Council had, at the start of the week, made a cack-handed attempt to stymie the thing altogether by an unelected officer thereof suddenly announcing that they were not going to 'permit' any activities to take place either on the grass of Llwyn Isaf or on most of the concrete of Queen's Square, claiming that they didn't allow anything to happen there which they deemed to be 'political', though upon which policy this determination was based was not vouchsafed to anyone. Given that the Council (run by a coalition of actual Tories and covert ones - the ones who stand for election as 'independents') had in previous weeks allowed - nay, encouraged - activities in celebration of both Lizzie Dripping's 'Seventy Years And Not Dead Yet' party and a publicity jolly for the colonial power's military, this cut no ice with anyone, least of all with the organisers who stated very firmly that they were going ahead anyway. At which point the cloddish officer who had clearly over-reached both his powers and the full extent of his political nous was over-ruled by the leaders of the ruling group).

Wandering around, I saw a goodly crowd but nothing which would quite suggest the numbers which the organisers said they were expecting. But then, quite a few were still over on Queen's Square and others were coming in from the four corners. Then one of the main organisers, Councillor Marc Jones (someone else I knew from college days) got up on stage to introduce the mainman of IndyFest Wrecsam (which had been running all week) Pol Wong (and I knew him in school but didn't get the chance to catch up with him - if he would have remembered me at all, that is - because he was at the heart of the whole thing and the closest I got to him was a distance of about eight feet as I watched him vault over the railing fence around the grassed area with the agility one would expect from the Shaolin monk which he is. Pol gave us all a brief but rousing welcome and then we were ready for the off. Or nearly ready: possibly as a last defiant gesture of colonialist arrogance (or more likely, given who we're talking about here, brazen incompetence), most of the gates in the railings had been locked and people had to go around the end of the fence or through the few gaps which remained in order to form up for the procession.

Photo of a crowd assembling

Finally, led by the Cambria Band, we strode off along the back of Llwyn Isaf towards Queen's Square. Well, to be honest, we shuffled off, there being something of a logjam as we went down the side of the Council building. We were soon streaming through however, but then came the first of what turned out to be two changes to the route. Instead of going up Lord Street, then left onto Duke Street and then left again down Regent Street to Hope Street, we instead went up Argyle Street, under the arch which comes out opposite the Horse & Jockey pub (another past connection here, in that in a previous life I worked in an office which straddled that arch).

Photo of a crowd marching

Turning left, we went down Hope Street with the flags of all nations (well, all the ones which matter; our own various ones - the Dragon, the Glyndŵr, the St. David - Scotland, Catalunya, Breizh, Kernow) heading in the direction of St. Giles' Church.

Photo of a crowd marching with flags and banners

Left again and down High Street before turning right (for a change) by the Wynnstay Arms and down Yorke Street to another right turn along Tuttle Street under the shadow of the long-defunct Border brewery with its tall red-brick chimney.

Photo of a crowd marching

We strode - some more boldly than others, which is why the parade seemed a bit stretched out at times - along the footpath parallel to St. Giles' Way and up Town Hill.

(By this time, I had slipped towards the back of the procession, partly because of stopping to take photos every few dozen yards).

Then the second change to the itinerary: instead of turning left back up Hope Street, we instead gave the people shopping or drinking on High Street the benefit of our displays for a second time before turning left by the Wynnstay and going up Chester Street to re-enter Llwyn Isaf from the opposite side from our starting point.

And finally here we were, all gathered in one place. I looked around for anyone I knew (having had a brief conversation early in the march with the Rev. Aled Lewis Evans who had - thirty-seven years ago now - put me on the radio for the first time), but the former colleague of mine whom I had been certain would be there wasn't; at least, not where I was.

I took the time to observe my fellow celebrants of our nation's continued existence, its defiance in the face of galloping colonial arrogance and its determination to stop said imperial assholery: the age range really was total, from babes-in-arms to men and women who looked as if they had been independentistas since the days of Saunders Lewis; the sex and gender balances (not the same thing, note) seemed to be pretty sound (I'd nearly had my head wrapped in a Pride flag on Hope Street); I didn't see many of what some might term the non-white persuasion, although there were a few (an area for further development and recruitment there, I think). All in all, a good cross-section of our society. Oh, and a fair smattering of dog breeds as well.

And of course there were flags, flags, flags.

Marc Jones returned to the stage to introduce the speakers. In no particular order (that is to say, I can't remember now) they were: the local poet Evrah Rose; local councillor Carrie Harper; the lawyer and academic Dylan Rhys Jones ; the comedian Tudur Owen; the journalist Roopa Vyas; and someone from the self-styled 'Labour For An Independent Wales' (who ranted more than somewhat and seemed to think that the problem we have is that there's a Tory government in Westminster, rather than seeing the real problem; namely, that our nation's government is in Westminster; this is par for the course given what I said about that group last year. There were also messages of solidarity from Sinn Fin's leader Mary Lou McDonald and from Oriol Junqueras, one of the Catalan political prisoners kangaroo'd by the Castilian colonialist rgime after the independence referendum of 2017.

Marc then announced the estimated attendance at the rally as being between six and eight thousand. Now the last time I was in a crowd of that size or greater was at the Racecourse Ground about 1978, so I had no recent yardstick by which to measure a crowd of any size by mere observation, but Marc assured us that that was the figure given to him by North Wales Police themselves.

(This wasn't good enough for our darling State Broadcaster, however. In this report (which appeared over an hour after the rally finished, much of a piece with their total failure to mention the event once in the preceding week), they state:

Screenshot from BBC News

Note the words used here: 'claimed' for the organisers' - and the police's - figure, but 'said' for the lower figure. And who did these 'other reports' come from? One corporate media hack on Twitter? Or down the direct line that Colonial Governor-General Hart seems to have to BBC Kerdiff? Is the Broadcorping Castration now refusing to believe even the polis?)

Note: They've now changed it to read, "...a minimum of 5000...". Yeah, well that's a hell of a lot more than 3000, isn't it, you frauds?

Then came the 'star turn'. Fresh from one of his old songs gaining international attention from its use to gee our footballers up to new triumphs, Dafydd Iwan gave us an extempore speech laced with the passion which has driven him through political campaigning via an English prison to being the eldest of elder statesmen of the national movement. He then concluded by leading us in an a capella rendition of the first verse and chorus of Yma O Hyd before doing the same for our official anthem.

When the band came on the stage to start the musical entertainment, I drifted away. Somehow, I didn't feel quite as engaged or as enthusiastic as I thought I would be. That this was the case was, I'm sure, far more to do with the serious family issue which had caused me to sleep poorly the previous night and which was still weighing heavily on my mind than it was with any failings on the part of the event itself. Nonetheless, as I made my way home again on the 14, I reflected that I had shown my side, I had taken my stand along with thousands of other people no longer feeling the need to be fearful of people's reactions or to be bashful about their own.

The times are changing. Forward!