26.5.09

Flying Thursday May 28, 2009.


May 28 is the anniversary of the downfall of the Marxist Dergue in Ethipoia in 1991, and a public holiday there. Below is the current Ethiopian flag, but actually I will not be flying this version.

The Flag of Ethiopia was adopted on February 6, 1996. The three traditional colours- green, yellow, and red- date back to the Emperor Menelik (1889-1913) and were first used in a flag in 1895. The current flag and emblem were adopted after the defeat of the Marxist Mengistu regime, in power from 1974-1991. The emblem is intended to represent both the diversity and unity of the country. Blue represents peace, the star represents diversity and unity, and the sun's rays symbolize prosperity. The green recalls the land and hope for the future, yellow stands for peace and love, and red is symbolic of strength. 

The colours of African unity - red, green, yellow - are seen here on one of the oldest African flags. These colours were used for the national flag of Ethiopia in 1897, a year after Ethiopia decisively defended itself from colonial Italy at the Battle of Adwa. The flag's tri-colour scheme has existed since the early 19th c. and was previously the official banner of the Ethiopian Empire's Solomonic dynasty. The colours green, yellow, and red have carried special importance since at least the early 17th century. 

The flag I have is not the current Ethiopian flag, but the flag in use up until the deposing of Haile Selassie in 1974. This royal flag featured the emblem of a Lion of Judah, a crowned lion carrying a cross centred in the banner's yellow mid-section. The flag is understood to be a link between the Ethiopian church, the peoples, and the nation were united in the one flag. The processional cross carried by the lion was the former "flag" or symbol of Ethiopia, and has been in use since at least the early 17th century, as well. Whilst red is currently featured at the bottom of the horizontal tricolour this was reversed in the mid 19th century and the emblem was added in 1996. What the colours symbolise varies depending on point of view, but generally: red represents power or African blood spilled in defence of the land; yellow for peace and harmony between Ethiopia's various ethnic and religious groups; green is said to symbolize hope, or the land and its fertility. Other African nations, upon their independence from their colonial rulers so often adopted these three colours that they are known as the Pan-African colours.