Some sources indicate that the green-yellow-red flag of Ethiopia first appeared on 06 October 1897. It was this flag of Ethiopia that became the basis for Pan-Africanism. Before the end of the Ethiopian Empire, the colour red symbolizes power and faith; while the yellow stands for peace, natural wealth and love; and the green for the land and hope.
However, after lengthy journey of many twists and turns through dictatorial regimes, the current flag of Ethiopia was adopted on February 06, 1996 which is a green-yellow-red tricolour with the national emblem at the centre. The emblem also used as the coat of arms, is light blue disk with a diameter approximately half length of the hoist inscribed with yellow pentagram symbol.
The Constitution's Art.3/1 states that the flag shall consist of green at the top, yellow in the middle and red at the bottom, and shall have national emblem at the centre (its circumference curves on the mid-point of the width of both the green and red colours). The three colours shall be set horizontally in equal dimension.
The National emblem on the flag shall reflect the hope of the nations, nationalities and peoples as well as religious communities of Ethiopia to live together in equality and unity. In addition, members of the federation may have their own respective flags and emblems and shall determine the details thereof through their respective legislature.
The new emblem will have a radiant star with equidistant rays to show the equality of all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia 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.
The three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow (middle), and red (bottom), with a yellow pentagram and single yellow rays emanating from the angles between the points on a light blue disk centred on the three bands; green represents hope and the fertility of the land, yellow symbolizes justice and harmony, while red stands for sacrifice and heroism in the defence of the land; the blue colour of the disk symbolizes peace and the pentagram represents the unity and equality of the nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia.
Over all, 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.
This year, residents of Addis Ababa could not celebrate the National Flag Day at the City's national stadium due to the state of emergency declared by the House of Peoples' Representatives a week earlier. The state of emergency is declared for the sake of securing peace and order. Hence, town residents celebrated Flag Day in their respective offices and localities.
Yet, using the 9th National Flag Day Celebration as platform, which was celebrated under the theme "Our Flag is the Expression of Our Sovereignty and Emblem of Unity Founded on Our Diversity," Ethiopian citizens from all walks of life within and abroad, have been expressing their commitment to strengthen the ongoing development endeavours of the country.
President Mulatu Teshome on the occasion said; "the Flag Day comes at a time when our national pride is strengthening and transforming to a new height. Our Flag is the identity and pride of Ethiopians who have long history of civilization. Currently, the Flag symbolizes the new democratic and resurrected Ethiopia. Hence, in addition to preserving early cultures and values, the current generation is expected to make the National Flag fly high by rallying behind the efforts being made to build democracy."
He said the unity created under the umbrella of the Flag has enabled the nation to realize huge development projects, including the GERD. "We should foil the attempt of our enemies who are trying to destroy our unity," he added urging citizens to work hard for the success of the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II), which aims to realize rapid economic transformation.
"Our flag has enabled the country to realize sizeable development in the area of agriculture and support drought-affected citizens without flow of significant aid from donors as was in the time of Derg and Haile-Silassie regimes," he added.
The National Flag, being symbol of unity, has also helped to build giant industrial parks and accelerate the journey to industry-led economy, he said. So far, the nation has built quintessential industry park in Hawassa and many more are expected to be constructed across the country during the GTP-II. These parks would help create thousands of jobs and build greater capacity to compete in the global market.
The National Flag also represents transcendental values of the country and its peoples, lasting peace, equality and peaceful co-existence. According to the President, it is a must to eradicate corruption and rent-seeking and solve the current good governance problems with a view to enhancing the pride of the National Flag.
Dr. Mulatu further stressed that the effort to alleviate poverty and build the positive image of Ethiopia has enabled to boost the pride of the Flag at international forums. And this effort will continue as far as possible with the coordinated effort of citizens.
Speaker of the House of Peoples' Representatives, Abadula Gemeda on his part said that the Flag has enabled to unify the peoples of Ethiopia towards poverty reduction, democratization and social development. "Ethiopia's youth should stand together under the National Flag and make every effort to sustain the country's renaissance journey," he added.
The Speaker stressed that Ethiopia has come a long way on its renaissance journey. Hence, the youth of the country should make concerted effort to sustain the renaissance by supporting poverty alleviation efforts. At present, he said, patriotism could be expressed through hard work in every sphere of life and lending a hand when the country stands in need of assistance.
Abadula said the Flag has been contributing a lot to maintain peace and stability over the last two decades. It has also enabled to realize double-digit growth and make the country honoured on continental and international stages.
The Nation has survived the threat of disintegration nearly 25 years ago, he said, and reached a stage of exemplary growth and development under a democratic government. "This is real time to stand together and celebrate this success by hoisting our Flag high as symbol of our national unity and mutual identity," he added.
The Speaker also urged the people of Addis Ababa and the country at large to fight rent-seeking, corruption, narrow nationalism, chauvinism and resist religious fundamentalism, which are potential threats to the flag, the centuries-long mutual respect and tolerance in the country.
Ethiopia is currently branded as the tiger of East Africa with a promising future. And it is rapidly changing its past image of backwardness, civil war and poverty. The support of citizens to their Flag has enabled to put in place constitutional order and democracy in the country. And the peace and stability existing in the country has allowed Ethiopians to intensify effort in their fight against poverty.
Celebrating National Flag Day enables to accelerate implementation of the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II) and sustain struggle against poverty; take our renaissance journey to a higher level and conquer the enemies of Ethiopia and terrorists who are bent on dismantling it and threatening its existence.
In this regard, while celebrating the day, over one thousand employees of Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, Ministry of Trade and Office of the Federal Auditor General vowed to enhance commitment to strengthen productivity in every sphere they are engaged in. State Minister of the Ministry of Trade, Taddesse Haile on the occasion said that the nation has registered amazing development achievement with the help of its peoples who are rallying behind the Flag and devoting all of their resources to achieve the lofty development goals of the country.
He said celebrating the National Flag Day helps citizens rally behind the development efforts of the country, register successful growth and extricate the country out poverty. So far, the country has been registering sizeable amount of development and lift millions of citizens out of poverty. To enhance this development further, currently, constructions of various mega projects are well under way, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the recently inaugurated Ethio-Djibouti Railway projects.
According to the State Minister, the past two decades have testified that Ethiopians can overcome every challenge the nation face as they are committed to sustain development efforts of the country in a united manner. However, instability and hooliganism are becoming potential threats to the current development endeavour.
He called on Ethiopian people to exert rigorous efforts more than ever and raise the Flag higher (as it is a common symbol to defeat poverty by joining hands by exerting insurmountable effort). In addition, he said, "when we celebrate our Flag Day, we need to commemorate and honour the martyrs of freedom who sacrificed their lives for unity, freedom and justice as well as pledge to realize the renaissance of the country."
Participants have also reaffirmed that they will step up their effort to enhance the development endeavour of the country and help maintain peace and security. They said some anti-peace and anti-development elements are posing challenge to the peace and development effort of the country. And it is a must to fight them and secure peace and stability.
Over all, the 9th Flag Day Celebration has enabled to renew the commitment of citizens to strengthen development. Citizens have vowed to accelerate renaissance of the country thereby eradicating poverty, securing peace and stability and hoisting the National Flag high in the international arena.
Similarly, citizens have promised to help secure peace and stability of the country by cooperatively supporting the implementation of state of emergency declared in the country. The state of emergency is said to be valuable to restore peace and stability, sustain the various development endeavours and secure pride of the national flag as before.
It is believed that the new commitment of citizens to secure peace and stability of the country and realize GTP-II will help the country materialize amazing development and join the status of middle income countries within a decade. And this will in turn realize the lofty goal of the country to become habitable home to its citizens.