The Soviet economy was a planned economy. It wasn’t based on the efficient principles of supply and demand, so there were frequent shortages of many products, from cars to fruit. Sometimes there was even famine, killing millions.
Typical fruit and vegetable stores would have potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, cabbage and maybe some seasonal fruit. Everything else was “in deficit” and caused long queues. For some reason bananas, if you could get them, were mostly sold green and you had to wait until they became ripe.
On Lithuanian Independence day, Vilnius Students For Liberty came up with a plan to remind people that in a free market – you don’t have to wait in a long line for bananas.
We gave away many kilograms of bananas, some with the word “freedom” scratched into the skin. We also parodied the nationalist slogan “Lithuania for Lithuanians!” by changing it to “Bananas for Lithuanians!”
This resulted in mixed feelings among the crowd of people gathered to celebrate independence. Most understood the intention were touched by it. Smiles were seen all around. Some even started telling stories of the first time they tasted a banana after independence. Others felt saddened or even angry, thinking we were somehow making a joke out of the suffering Lithuanians experienced while occupied by the Soviets.
We just wanted to make people smile and never forget that freedom brings bananas. After all, bananas grow in the shape of a smile!
Lithuanian nationalists think that Lithuania’s future lies in conserving our cultural heritage, freezing our language and traditions. We disagree. We think that Lithuania should think ahead to the future, building a multicultural society, open to the world as a modern country. We welcome foreign innovations in technology, social change and fruit supply. And let’s never forget that where there is war – there are no bananas.
Long live Lithuanian independence, and long may we all eat bananas!