Friday, March 9, 2012

Flag Day: Zimbabwe


How is it Friday again already? Time has really been flying for me this year; Fridays rarely take "forever" to come around like they used to. As you can imagine, this is both a blessing and a curse: yay, it's Friday, but also, where did all that time go? I guess it does help explain lapses in productivity, though; I often have trouble remembering what day it is, and have a strange habit of trying to skip Thursdays altogether. Come on, brain, get it together. At least I seem to recognize Friday still?

 

Anyway, I am excited to share this week's flag with you. It was one of the first international flags I remember being impressed by. I was in 6th grade, and every student in the class adopted a country to study for the entire academic year. This was an epic project for 11 years old,  and I thought it was so much fun, but then again, my favorite subject in school was always history  & I got a degree in geography, so that does make sense! In other words ... I've always been on the nerd path.

I always have to make things as difficult as possible for myself, so of course I picked Hong Kong (my best friend Jenny had just moved there), which was at the time still under British rule. As this was in the pre-internet days, finding information for my reports was very difficult.  All of the other students in my class chose reasonable, respectable countries with multiple library shelves devoted to them. One girl chose Zimbabwe, and I remember looking at their flag and thinking "WHOA! FRUIT STRIPE GUM!" 

...and the rest was history.

Zimbabwe (Source: Wikipedia)


I love bright colors. Given this lifelong affliction, it probably isn't surprising that I love countries that are unconcerned with decorum and muted colors. I loved the flag of Zimbabwe's stripes most of all, as they not  only give the feeling of motion and progress, but horizontally they form a pattern. And of course, the pattern means something:
Officially, the meanings of the colours on the flag are as follows:
  • Green: the agriculture and rural areas of Zimbabwe
  • Yellow: the wealth of minerals in the country
  • Red: the blood shed during the first and second Chimurenga (wars) in the struggle for independence.
  • Black: the heritage,ethnicity and community of the native Africans of Zimbabwe
  • White Triangle: peace
  • Zimbabwe Bird: the national symbol of Zimbabwe
  • Red Star: the nation's hopes and aspirations for the future (as well as ZANU-PF's socialist beliefs)
The colours are used on the flag of the ruling ZANU PF party. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Zimbabwe Bird, mentioned above, is a depiction of a statuette found at the ruins of the city of Great Zimbabwe, which was part of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe from approximately 1100-1400AD. I had never even known about the Kingdom or the Great City, but now it will be something I remember every time I see this flag. And that, my friends, is how flags are the ultimate cultural symbols.

 

Now, this next flag I'm going to show you is not actually from a country, and I'm not making any political statements here by posting it. I stumbled across it the other day in a Google search and realized that only a technicality (statehood) separated this, the flag of freedom fighters slash terrorist organization Hezbollah, from that of other AK-47 problem child Mozambique.

All I have to say about this is the following: if my flag had an AK-47 on it, I'd be more than a little concerned that my country felt this deadly weapon was its most important symbol. But I could be wrong, right? I'm certainly interpreting this from my worldview, my ethnocentric left coast America hippie yuppie vegan worldview. I'd be appalled if I ever even saw an AK-47 outside of a museum. I guess in another place, it could be the almighty savior of the nation. It still makes me uneasy.

Hezbollah (not a country, just sayin) (Source: Wikipedia)

Do you have thoughts about this? Anything? Please leave a comment if you have something to say!

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