Our Ethiopian Flag is An Embodiment of Our Accomplishment and Aspirations
By Yigezu Abate
Tigrai Online, October 27, 2015
For the eighth time, the Ethiopian National Flag Day was celebrated last week. The celebrations took place in schools, universities, government offices, in Ethiopian embassies and diaspora, in military barracks, and in the camps of Ethiopian peacekeepers abroad. Ethiopians throughout the world celebrated their flag with the spirit that testifies to the long-held reverence and deep sense of attachment of Ethiopians to their national flag.
Indeed, Ethiopians have long attachment to their flag. For about a century, Ethiopia have been using the red, yellow and green colors along various emblems as its flag. As Ethiopians successfully were victorious over successive foreign attempts at aggression western colonization, the colors of red, yellow, and green were generally considered as representing independence and patriotism. Indeed, it was also deemed symbol of pan-Africanism and freedom held in high esteem.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Ethiopians maintained their country as a free nation, never colonized by any foreign force, the monarchy and the past military regime used the flag as an instrument to extend their stay in power rather than as a symbol of nation building.
That changed with the fall of the Derg in 1991 and the subsequent enactment of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia that laid the foundations for the new era in which the country’s religious and ethnic diversity is recognized.
Indeed, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is founded on the Constitution that is an expression of the mutual commitment of nation, nationalities and peoples with commitment to the protection of group and individual rights is unequivocally stated. It laid the blueprint for at building one political and economic community, while enabling nations and nationalities to promote, develop, and preserve their identities. As a result, it also endowed nation, nationalities, and peoples, the right to establish its own self-government in the territory it inhabits and to proportional representation in higher levels of organs.
The constitution endorses not only the concept of democratic governance but also recognizes and guarantees the basic political institutions that characterize a democratic political system. Such as, universal franchise, elected government, freed on of political expression and organization with the incorporation of a longest of human and democratic rights in the constitution.
The constitution guarantees the representation of all nations, nationalities, and peoples in the House of Federation, which has the power to interpret the constitution, handle inter-nation/nationality and inter-state matters and demands for self-governance and secession, among others. Every nation, nationality, and group is guaranteed at least one seat in the House and extra one seat per million people, which reflects the numerical strength of the groups.
Similarly, the House of Representatives, which is composed of representatives elected from every electoral district, is designed to have representatives of all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. The constitution reserves some twenty chairs for minorities who are unable to be represented in the normal course of the election.
In line with that, the FDRE Constitution specified that the flag should reflect the hopes of the diverse communities to live together in equality and unity. Article 3 stated:
Article 3. The Ethiopian Flag
- The Ethiopian flag shall consist of green at the top, yellow in the middle and red at the bottom, and shall have a national emblem at the center. The three colors shall be set horizontally in equal dimension.
- The national emblem on the flag shall reflect the hope of the Nations, Nationalities, Peoples as well as religious communities of Ethiopia to live together in equality and unity.
- Members of the Federation may have their respective flags and emblems and shall determine the details thereof through their respective legislatures.
Subsequently, the Federal Parliament enacted a law that defined the Ethiopian flag as following:
Colors and Shape of the Flag
- The Flag shall have the colors: green at the top, yellow at the middle and red at the bottom together with a National Emblem of circular blue background. The Emblem shall be set at the center of the Flag in such a way that its circumference curves on the midpoint of the width of both the green and red colors.
- The colors shall be bright and basic.
- The colors shall be structured horizontally and be of the same size. The length of the Flag shall be twice its width.
- The Emblem shall be a blue circle with depictions; a) straight and equal lines of yellow that come from all directions and join each other; b) a star formed by the straight and equal lines; c) yellow rays radiating from the points where the straight and equal lines cross each other.
Similarly, the nine members of the Federation designated their respective flags.
With regard to the National flag, according to the 1996 Flag and Emblem Proclamation, the meaning of the colors and the emblem are as following:
The colors of the Flag represent the following meanings:
- The green for labor, fertility and development;
- The yellow for hope, justice and equality; and
- The red for sacrifice and heroism towards the prevalence of freedom and equality.
The Emblem of the Flag represents the following meanings:
- The circular blue background of the Emblem signifies peace.
- The straight and equal lines signify the equality of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples as well as of Religions.
- The star formed by the straight and equal lines signify the unity founded by the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia of their common will.
- The yellow rays signify the bright prospect in sight for the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples united of their common will.
Therefore, the national flag was re-defined to demonstrate the hard won values of the struggles of the Ethiopian people in the traditional tricolor which represents fertility, labor and development in the green of hope, the yellow for justice and equality in and the red for the sacrifice and heroism of Ethiopians for peace and justice. In other words, the new ethos conceptualizes the culmination of the internal struggle for equality and democracy, providing a new layer of history over the deep and long traditional ethos embodied in the green, red and yellow flag.
Now, unlike the old days, the flag is no longer associated with repression. It is unanimously considered a source of pride and a symbol of equality to all Ethiopians. It is now also a symbol of the vision of our peace, development, and renaissance. It signifies the new Ethiopia whose peoples are united in their free consent to live together as Ethiopians. In fact, the national flag represents the new Ethiopia that ushered in a new foundation of unity based on mutual consent and equality to replace the old order that sustained unity through subjugation and brutality.
The idea of celebrating the National Flag Day was initiated in 2008 following the successful celebration of the Ethiopian millennium in 2007. Since then, the celebration has been held with ever-increasing participation of the public underlining the unifying sense of nationhood.
Indeed, Ethiopians are accustomed to giving due respect to a national flag as it is a quintessentially an act of love and respect to one’s country and its people. However, the National Flag Day provides an opportunity to highlights the values implied by the flag and the emblem. It reminds the central tenet of Ethiopia are Peace, development, hope, justice, equality, the sacrifice and heroism for freedom and equality, the equality of nations, nationalities and peoples as well as of Religions and the bright prospects in sight for the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples united of their common will.
This year's Flag Day was celebrated at the National Stadium in Addis Ababa. As usual, it was celebrated warmly in a manner that shows a deep understanding of of the important significance of the flag.
Under the theme "Ethiopia: a nation striving to restore its renaissance and keep its flag flying even higher", the National Flag day celebration event was attended by senior officials of the government, including H.E. President Mulatu Teshome, H.E. Speaker of the House of People's Representatives Abadula Gemeda, H.E. Speaker of the House of Federation Yalew Abate.
It was repeatedly underlined that the eighth National Flag Day has special resonance as it came at a point when the country was commencing the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) which would take the country to the level of middle-income status.
H.E. President Mulatu Teshome noted the current generation had a national obligation to preserve the country’s cultures and values and to lift high the national flag and rally behind the efforts being made to fight poverty and build democracy. The major development projects now underway in the county, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, were, the flagship projects of the aspirations of Ethiopians to end poverty and transfer a prosperous nation to the coming generation.
Indeed, as Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives, said, Ethiopia is currently branded as a country with a promising future and it was changing its past image of backwardness, civil war, and poverty. This is a compliment to the prevailing constitutional order and the level of democracy in the country. It is important to sustain and take the journey towards the renaissance of Ethiopia to a higher level and discourage those groups who preferred to see Ethiopia's failure.
Ethiopian National Flag Day colorfully celeverated in Addis Ababa and the rest of Ethiopia.
“We have come a long way from the verge of disintegration nearly 25 years ago, and reached a stage of exemplary growth and development under a democratic governmental system. Now, this is a time to stand together and celebrate the success by hoisting our flag high as a symbol of our national identity.”
TOL Note: The history of the Ethiopian flag is not what the fake story told by the Ethiopian extremist groups. It has absolutely nothing to do with any of the recent kings. The roots and the true history of the flag is the Axumite KIngdom.