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On The Breeze: Uganda

Flag Facts On The Breeze

Nestled in the heart of continental Africa is the nation of Uganda. Not much is known about this small county, other than it’s vast wildlife and colourful culture. However, one thing is for certain; it has a fascinating, vibrant flag that is filled with symbolism!

A Brief History

British Rule

Uganda was taken over by the British Empire in 1893, after the ‘Imperial British East African Company’ (IBEAC) transferred it’s administration rights as a territory over to them. A year later, the Uganda protectorate was established as a colony within the Empire.

During the first half of the it’s time under British rule, Uganda was rocked hard by a religious civil war and various leadership changes. The civil war, lasting three years, was fought between Muslim, Catholic and Protestant factions. Despite all of this, the British Empire still held full control over the country. By the time of the First World War, the British had become very friendly towards Uganda. To show this, they finally gave Uganda their own flag in 1914. 

The flag of the ‘Uganda Protectorate’ was a blue field with a Union flag in the canton, and a circular emblem to the right (this was a re-occurring theme among British colony flags!). The emblem portrayed a grey crowned crane, the national symbol of Uganda. It stood in front of what looks like a desert, with two shrub-like plants tucked behind. This flag would go on to fly over the occupied territory until it became an independent nation in 1962!

Flag of the Uganda Protectorate (1914 - March 1962)
Flag of the Uganda Protectorate (1914 - March 1962)

At the same time as the Protectorate flag was flown, the Standard of the Governor of Uganda was used. The flag depicted a full scale Union flag with the same emblem featured on the Protectorate flag. The only difference was a wreath and light blue ribbon surrounding it (which gives the flag a slightly more regal and formal look!). The flag represented whoever was the Governor of Uganda at the time.

Standard of the Governor of Uganda (1914 – March 1962)
Standard of the Governor of Uganda (1914 – March 1962)

Early Independence

In March 1962, whilst in the midst of campaigning for independence from the British, the Democratic party of Uganda introduced an independent national flag.

The flag was a tricolour flag of green, yellow and green, with a strip of dark blue in the centre. A yellow crowned crane was featured in the centre (a re-occuring theme with the Ugandan flags!). 

Interestingly, the yellow and green in this early Ugandan flag link to Africa’s symbolic independence colours. Green, yellow and red were (and still are) used in the Ethiopian flag. As Ethiopia was the only nation in Africa to never be colonised, many African countries used these coulous in their new national flags. It is a show of freedom from empirical rule. This is most likely what the Democratic party were trying to convey. They wanted to show that they were a proud African nation, one unchanged by years of British rule.

There is some debate as to whether this flag was official or not, but most would like to believe so. It is really cool looking flag!

Uganda National Flag (March - October 1962)
Uganda National Flag (March - October 1962)

A Quick Mention...

As explained earlier, Uganda used to have a Standard of Governor’s flag. But once an independent Ugandan government was introduced, this was replaced by the Presidential Standard of Uganda. The flag is flown to represent the current president of Uganda.

The standard is a field of red, with 6 strips of 3 colours (black, yellow and red) along the bottom. The reasons why will become more apparent in a minute! In the centre of the flag sits the Ugandan coat of arms. 

The coat of arms includes a shield in the centre, which features a Ugandan drum, a yellow sun and 6 wavy lines of alternating white and blue. The wavy lines likely represent Lake Victoria, one of the largest lakes in Africa; 45% of which belongs to Uganda. Behind the shield are two spears that cross over each other, representing the tribal heritage. Supporting the shield are a male Ugandan kob and a crowned crane. The shield sits upon a field of grass with a river flowing through the centre. On one side is a sprig of coffee (left), and the other a sprig of cotton (right). Below this is the Ugandan motto: FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY

Presidential Standard of Uganda
Presidential Standard of Uganda

The Current Flag

In October 1962, after pushing to have an autonomous government, Uganda became an independent, commonwealth realm. This meant it was now a completely self-governing nation, but was still ruled by the current monarch of Britain. So not only would the country shift into independence, but it would also need a new, official, independent flag. The current flag was brought in a few days before independence was established, replacing the short-lived green, yellow and blue flag. As of now, it is still the official national flag of Uganda! The flag has 6 strips of 3 colours (black, yellow and red), with a white circle in the centre. The 3 colours all have different meanings:
  • Black represents the people of Uganda
  • Yellow stands for Africa's sunshine
  • Red stands for the blood which ties all African people together, and the world as a whole. This is highlighting that we are all one community and should not hate each other!

 Within the circle is (once again) a grey crowned crane. The crane has a colour scheme similar to that of the flag, with a black and grey body, a yellow and red crown and red and white wings. It is no surprise that the crane is used on every flag the nation has had, as the bird is very peace-loving and gentle bird, which is certainly true of the Ugandan people! This means when the crane is used on the Ugandan flags, it is representing the people and communities of Uganda as a whole, which is an important symbol of the peaceful and cultured nation. The crane also has one leg raised. This symbolises the forward movement Uganda made as a nation through many rough years of colonisation and violence, and the steps forward it will continue to take in the future!

In the end, Uganda broke away from British rule and is now a proud, cultured, independent nation with a very cool flag!  

What do you think of the Ugandan flag? Is it one of your favourites? Let us know by leaving us a comment down below, we’d love to hear from you!

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