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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 12:36 GMT
Rwanda unveils new flag and anthem
Rwandan President Paul Kagame with the new flag
The new flag represents national unity
By the BBC's Helen Vesperini

Rwanda's Government unveiled a new flag and national anthem on Monday as part of its drive to promote national unity and reconciliation after the 1994 genocide.

Soldier staring at skulls
No mention is made of genocide in the new anthem

The new national anthem will refer to the Rwandans as one people, rather than to Tutsi, Hutu and Twa.

Many believe the old anthem - adapted from a traditional folk tune 30 years ago - glorifies the Hutu as they fought to throw off Tutsi oppression.

The overthrow of the monarchy in 1959 was accompanied by widespread massacres of Tutsi and the flight into exile of countless others.

Flag of hope

As for the new flag, the government wants it to represent national unity, respect for work, heroism and confidence in the future.

It will be free of any echoes of the 1994 killings.

The current flag is red, yellow and green, with a big black letter R for Rwanda in the centre.

The new flag has no red, with its connotations of blood spilt, nor black with its symbolism of gloom and mourning.

But the green and the yellow stay, representing the light of the sun, hope and Rwanda's lush vegetation.

The red and black were replaced by sky blue, with the yellow rays of the sun shining down from the top right-hand corner.

Legislation providing for the new flag and the new anthem was passed in the late 1990s.

The government then organised a nationwide competition, asking Rwandans to design their flag and compose lyrics and music for the anthem.

See also:

04 Oct 01 | Africa
Rwanda speeds up genocide trials
03 Aug 01 | Africa
Rwanda 'crushes' Hutu rebels
02 Jan 02 | Europe
Rwanda nuns guilty of genocide
17 Jul 00 | Africa
Rwanda counts its dead
22 Jan 00 | Africa
Rwanda updates genocide list
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