Recently, it was announced by the government of Ethiopia that the country would celebrate a national flag day on 15th October this year. This sounds like great news on the surface. However, Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives, Shitaye Minale also announced that on this day of celebration, there will also be a public consultation on the flag. She said “[The] Ethiopian flag can be changed if an idea that will bring about national consensus is proposed in the house of representatives”. Why is this?
The Current Flag
The current flag of Ethiopia is a horizontal triband of green, yellow and red. In the center, the is a blue circle featuring a yellow star that has 5 rays of light radiating from it. The circle and star is the national symbol of Ethiopia. The green represents fertility of the land, the yellow represents peace and religious freedom, while the red sybolises those who have died for the country. The blue of the emblem again represents peace, with the star representing unity and diversity, the rays symbolising prosperity.
It is a very well known design, indeed the background colours are known as the “pan-African” colours, and are used by other African nations as a nod to their Ethiopian brothers (Ethiopia was the only African nation to never be colonised). However, the design is not well loved by the citizens of the country. Ethiopian news site Borkena even goes as far as to say that “The current flag […] has been passionately detested by Ethiopians across the country.”
This is because in 1996, the ruling party of Ethiopia (EPRDF) introduced the flag to mark the start of a new regime in the country. This was not popular with everybody however, and the government had to outlaw the use of any other Ethiopian flag in attempt to make their new design more popular. Strangely enough, this did not work.
As recently as September 2018, protesters have been killed, seemingly for flying a flag that is not legal (SOURCE). So what flag would the people of Ethiopia prefer?
The New Flag?
The general consensus online as to which flag is preferred by Ethiopians is simple. Just green, yellow and red, the traditional colors of the country. While the current emblem in the center of the flag is intended to be inclusive for all cultures within the nation, many feel that the lack of any emblem would better achieve this goal. The pan-African colours are known throughout the world as a sign of freedom, and Ethiopians are proud of this.
While many of us may look at this and think that the design is more simple and boring, it is vital to remember the power of flags. They are not simply coloured cloth flying in the wind. They are a symbol around which a nation builds it’s very identity. People will live and die beneath the banner. Design is an important aspect to flags, and it is always fun to see really cool and interesting designs. However, what the flag means to those who it represents is what is most important.
If the people of Ethiopia believe that this flag is the true representation of their culture, then let us hope that they are able to make it the official flag. This is a story worth watching.
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