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Ethiopian Flag: The Meaning, Designer And Symbolism





Just as with all countries of the world, the Ethiopian flag is the leading signifier of the East African nation.

Ethiopia is the world’s most populous land-locked country. It is one of the African countries that was never colonized. But with the Scramble for Africa during World War II, Italians started invading the independent country.

With the counter attack of Ethiopian war loads and patriotic warriors, Ethiopia bounced back to normal. After the brief invasion, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations.

The Ethiopian Flag has gone through different versions before settling for the current one on October 31, 1996. For every pattern, the flag says something about the state of the nation.

Did you know that the Pan-African flag has its root from the Ethiopian flag? Yes the Ethiopian flag has influenced a number of flags within and outside the continent.

See Also: African Flags And The History Behind Them

Meaning Of The Ethiopian Flag

Every flag has an embedded meaning in form of the colors, patterns and symbols. Like most flags, the Ethiopian national flag is a sign of pride, respect and freedom for the landlocked nation, located in the horn of Africa.

After the Italian invasion, Menelik II towards the end of the 19th century (1897–1914) ordered that the flag be redesigned to have a rectangular tricolor of red, yellow, and green respectively. Before then, the colors were in form of pennants.

The Ethiopian flag as provided by the constitution is not to be disrespected by any means. Mores so it must be used as stipulated by the law; without alterations. Using the flag without the emblem particularly could land you a one-year jail term or a fine of 5000 birr ($214).

Ethiopian Flag Designer

Abebe Alambo designed the national flag of Ethiopia. It is not clear if he designed the original version of the flag which has gone through series of modification; or the current Ethiopian flag. Likewise the year of the design is not available. What is known about the current Ethiopian flag is the date of its official adoption and its symbolic representation.

See Also: 10 Great African War Lords Who Resisted European and Arab Domination

Symbolism

The Ethiopian flag has 4 colors-green, yellow, red and blue.

Every single tiny detail on the Ethiopian flag has a historical meaning and stands for something in the present and the future as well.

The Ethiopian ensign is designed to have 3 equal horizontal green, red and yellow rectangles with a yellow and blue emblem at the centre. While green represents fertility, yellow represents religious peace and freedom, and the red color represents both strength and the price of their independence.

A currently dysfunctional national website was quoted to have explained the national flag as thus:

“The national flag symbolizes the honour and beauty of the Ethiopian nation: green represents the fertility of the country, yellow the religious freedom found there, and red the lives sacrificed in the protection of national integrity.”

“The new emblem will have a radiant star with equidistant rays to show the equality of all ethnic groups as well as creed and gender equity.”  

“The shining rays from the star testify to a bright future for Ethiopia, and surrounding the emblem will be a blue background to denote peace and democracy in Ethiopia”.

From 6 February to 31 October 1996, the emblem was smaller with a lighter blue color. The currently brighter and bigger emblem represents unity in diversity. It also represents prosperity.

Another popular emblem used on the Ethiopian flag was the Lion of Judah emblem. It was a part of the national flag from 1941–1974. The emblem marked the reign of Hailee Salassie and his popularity with the Rastafarian movement.

The Rastafarian community revered Hailee Selassie and accorded him the title of the lion of Judah.

With slight differences, the Ethiopian flag pattern influenced other flags in Africa and beyond.

For instance the red, black and green striped pattern can be seen in the Biafran flag, Malawian flag, African National Congress, African American flag by David Hammons, Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Kenyan and Libyan flag.

With a little twist, the Pan African colors takes the same tricolor horizontal design of red, black and green.

The red color symbolizes blood shed for freedom; black for nobility and the prestige of the black race; while green represents the natural wealth of Africa.


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