BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 10:32 GMT
Are you passionate about your flag?
Mozambique's flag
Mozambique's flag was the ruling party's banner before its adoption
This week Mozambique's parliament rejected an opposition attempt to get the image of a gun removed from the national flag.

The AK-47 is seen as a symbol of the war of independence, but after a bitter civil war the opposition say it should be dropped in the spirit of reconciliation.

As part of Burundi's peace efforts, the country's post-war government has promised to change the flag, which has three red stars at its centre.

They officially represent the slogan Unity, Work and Progress, but are also seen as a reference to Burundi's three ethnic groups, thus proving divisive.

Do you think a flag's emblems have the power to spark enmity instead of unity? Are they really that meaningful and if so should African governments change them to keep everybody happy? How important is your country's flag to you? Let us know your views.

A selection of them will be posted below and broadcast on the BBC's Focus on Africa programme on Saturday 24 December at 1700 GMT.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

It is part of our liberation history and it should remain where it is
Daniel Mpfumo, Maputo

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Kalashnikov rifle being on our flag. As you should know that symbol represents the struggle for independence against oppression and colonialism in Mozambique. It is part of our liberation history and it should remain where it is.
Daniel Mpfumo, Maputo, Mozambique

South Africa changed its flag and anthem during the change to a fair democracy for all. The old flag and anthem are seen as symbols of the apartheid regime by the majority of South Africans. The 'rainbow nation' was born with the new flag. If symbols are offensive and dividing for the majority of the people living in a country then it is important that they change to bring about reconciliation particularly when trying to build a new unified country.

Most South Africans (both black and white) love the new flag and see it as a way of looking to the future rather than the past. If there is a fundamental change in a country then the flag should be changed, but it shouldn't be changed just because a new political party comes to power.
Mike, London, UK

Yes. Emblems, symbols and mottos, are meaningful and have the power to spark enmity. My country, Liberia is an example. The motto, the Love of Liberty Brought Us Here, on the seal of our country, is seen as a divisive wording since, indeed, the Liberians natives feel the motto represents the interest of the founders of our country from the USA. This argument goes farther to show the controversy confederate flags in some states in the US. Emblems should be changed in the interest of everyone in a nation to keep them happy.
Tony Newon, Liberia

Whether history has been good or bad; it is our history and we don't want to forget it
R Ukubiranya, USA

Change the flag's emblems in Burundi! That's no less than propaganda and immature decision as far as safeguarding the long-lasting uniqueness of Burundi or any country for that matter. To me, that would equal saying let's just forget our history. Whether history has been good or bad; it is our history and we don't want to forget it.

If the flag represents the realities that the country has lived in, so what's wrong with that? We know that ethnic divide has been reality in Burundi as was the fight for independence in Mozambique.
R Ukubiranya, USA

The Kalashnikov rifle looks really odd as a part of Mozambique's flag. If they insist on reminiscing about their civil war, they should use some native African symbol like the shield and spear instead of the all traumatizing Kalashnikov rifle. It's a symbol of worthlessness.
Nick D Morrison, Paramaribo, Surinam

The point is not what the owners of a symbol mean; it is those who behold it that are important. For instance the flag of the UK would have one meaning to English people and a very different one to NI Catholics. The same can be said vice versa for the Irish flag as viewed by NI Protestants.
Collie, Nice, France

It's true that flags have historical and the meaningful to nation and its citizens. A flag that imposes something that does not represent people and nation could not be considered. Like Sudan's flag that represents Islam and the Arabs and does not represent all people of Sudan generally, could not be considered or display in the country.
Martin Aarai, Tali, Sudan

Flags, national anthems and symbols of a nation are products of history and particular moments of history
S Vieira, Maputo

Flags, national anthems and symbols of a nation are products of history and particular moments of history. The turkey, not the eagle saved the American pioneers. The Queen has not always been victorious and oppressive acts were committed by Her armies. Should the French change La Marseillaise because of the violence of the anthem, or the anti-Spanish words of the national anthem of the Netherlands? The AK was used by the liberation army to free the country. Are we denying facts and trying to make a politically-correct history?

Are the American or German or Austrian eagles symbols of peace, peaceful the lion or leopards of Britain, the frank axe? The book, hoe, AK and the star they stand for the principles of production, study and the fight for the liberation and defence of the country, the red for the blood shed by the Mozambicans under colonialism and for freedom, the green and gold for the wealth from the soil, the black and white for the people and peace - the combination of the two colours for the harmony of races. What's wrong with that?
S Vieira, Maputo

I think flag's emblems do create both enmity and unity depending on what it represent. For Sudan, we have problem with it. That is why currently we have two flags, to say South Sudanese (SPLA/M) is different. Because of what it represent, that create anger.
Desmond Yengi, Adjumani, Uganda

Flags are supposed to have symbolic meaning for the people of a country. An independence struggle can be symbolised in a variety of different ways depending on local perception. E.g. the former flag of Georgia had a black stripe above a white stripe which symbolised its struggle to be free from Russia. Having an AK-47 on a flag is not symbolic of struggle, but literal, and I think Mozambique politicians should think very carefully about glorifying literal violence rather than a concept of struggle.
James Frankcom, London, England

"The AK-47 is seen as a symbol of the war of independence." How ignorant and silly that sounds? Officials in Mozambique parliament should be ashamed of themselves for refusing to remove the AK-47 as a symbol from the flag. I mean it's bad enough that most of our African nations if not all of them, are known to be corrupted nations, that only seem to resolve their issues with guns and violence, but to use this very tool as a symbol of freedom, to me it's just silly and ignorant. What has the AK-47 done for the nation, besides enlisting babies in their armies or guerrilla groups to kill each other?
Didier Barlingar, Sanford, FL, USA

I'm not a Mozambican but I feel they should do away with the gun in the flag. The gun represents war not peace. Now that they have joined together in national reconciliation, they need to reach a fact.
Josephat Mua, Kenya/USA

A flag must talk briefly about the peoples' history, their struggle and future.
Haggai Sichalwe, Lusaka, Zambia

This flag should be immediately changed because it represents the past and not the future of the country. The Frelimo ruling party should remove the barriers for its change in the spirit of the national reconciliation. Mozambique cannot be glad of being the one & only country in the world with a gun represented in their national flag.
Patriot, Mozambique

It does not make sense for anyone to use a weapon as violent as an AK-47 in their flag. They should at least used an African weapon, if they must symbolize the war for independence. Emblems can exacerbate existing problems. I don't think that they create them. Meanings are attached to them in societies that already have problems.
Kingsley Ezenekwe, Lagos, Nigeria

Though flags have historical backgrounds, it is better to change them to suit each generation
Mabvuto Munthali, Lilongwe

Flags are symbols that represent the feeling of every person in that particular country. Therefore it has the power to spark enmity if representation is based on a ruling party/president or ethnic tribe. Flags being the symbol for the whole nation it suppose to reflect peace, love and harmony unlike a flag that carries symbols of destructions, hatred and racism. Such types of symbols promote chaos in the country. Why guns?

Though flags have historical backgrounds, it is better to change them to suit each generation. For instance most African countries fought for independence from European countries, and their flags have been designed with symbols of victory. Today, there is no such type racism. For instance Malawi's flag has the rising sun which represents the dawn of hope and freedom for the continent of Africa (when the flag was created countries in Africa were just beginning to be granted independence).

The black represents the people of the continent, the red symbolises the martyrs of African freedom, and the green represents the nature of Malawi. Yet recently it has been discovered that Malawi flag is based on the banner adopted by the Malawi Congress Party which was the party that led the campaign for independence and whose leader became the first prime minister of Malawi. Flag's emblems should change to make everybody happy.
Mabvuto Munthali, Lilongwe, Malawi

A lot of emotion, passion and sentiment are usually generated by the colours and designs of national flags not for the grandeur nor aesthetics of the flag but the momentous events, national travails and the historical and cultural wealth and tales the flag chronicles and heralds. It is a primordial fact however that great leadership propels a country to the pinnacle of its desired destiny and not a pugnacious defence an eccentric allegiance nor ecclesiastical devotion to the flag.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore, USA

If the motive of the persons who designed the emblem / flag was good, there is no need to change it. The three red stars in Burundi's flag are all in one circle and are spaced in equal distance from one another. This signifies that the three tribes in Burundi are equal and have equal chances to opportunities to Burundi's resources. The negative interpretations of the emblems is in the minds of people.
Thomas Nyambane, Nairobi, Kenya



Name
Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Comments

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.


SEE ALSO
Mozambique shoots down new flag
19 Dec 05 |  Africa
Mozambique: Ten years of progress
11 Mar 05 |  Business

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific