Last modified: 2006-07-08 by rob raeside
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The African Union (AU) was launched in Durban, South Africa, 9
July 2002. It is the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
The AU has not yet adopted any new symbols although there is a special logo for
the inaugural meeting tomorrow which is being attended by Heads of States. This
was featured on a stamp issued by the South
African Post Office last week. The AU is expected to formally adopt new symbols
(including a flag) in due course. Today is the final session of the OAU,
following which its flag will be lowered.
Bruce Berry, 8 July 2002
The advertisement below about a competition to design symbols (including a flag) for the newly formed African Union was published in the Sunday Times (Johannesburg) on 13 April 2003.
AFRICAN UNION (AU) SYMBOLS COMPETITION
The African Union (AU) is in a process to design its new symbols: An anthem, flag and logo. The Public is invited to enter for the AU Symbols design competition.
The brief: The Anthem. An anthem shall be composed in a way that the first stanzas or a refrain and two verses sung or executed with musical instruments during official ceremonies do not exceed one minute. Each dossier submitted in one or several of the working languages of the African Union (English, Arabic, French, and Portuguese) shall include: The lyrics of the Anthem; The music written in scores; the lyric and music written in scores; A good sound recording of the instrumental and/or sung music; A clear and concise explanatory note. The Flag: Each work, executed in colours, shall be submitted in three copies, accompanied by a clear and concise explanatory note written in one or several working languages of the African Union. The note shall indicate among other things, the proposed meanings of the colours, designs, figures, or symbols, if there are any on the flag, as well as their respective sizes. The Logo: Each work, executed in colour and in black and white shall be submitted in three copies, accompanied by a clear and concise explanatory note written in one or several working languages of the African Union. The note shall indicate, among other things, the proposed meanings of the colours, designs, figures or symbols, if there are any, on the flag, as well as their respective sizes. Proposals for a motto are also welcome. However, these proposals will not be subjected to a competitive process. The first ten mottoes shall be submitted to the Second Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government slated for Maputo, Mozambique, in July 2003. Each work shall be a new creation or a modification of the OAU symbol. In composing the symbols, candidates shall draw inspiration from, the following values (list indicative): Struggle, defence, courage, sacrifice, victory, glory, peace; Freedom, liberation, independence, sovereignty; Work, effort, prosperity, wealth, industriousness. Union, unity, solidarity, fraternity; Sanctity of life, sacred, nature of the African continent, purity, respect, dignity, justice, durability, universality, eternity; Hope, faith, future). These values may be drawn from African History, culture, civilization, spirituality, inspiration, geography. Similarly reference may be made to Africa as one of the cradles of mankind.
Competition Rules. All three competitions shall be open to nationals of all Member States. It is possible for a candidate to submit entries for on or more of the three competitions. No entry submitted shall be returned to its owner. The entry submitted shall be returned to its owner. The entries received together with a clear and concise representation shall be submitted to a jury set up by the Commission. The three best entries shall be presented to the Second Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Union Scheduled to take place in Maputo, Mozambique in July 2003, which shall choose the AU official symbols (anthem, flag and logo).
Please Note: The Jury or the Assembly of Heads of State and Government may
decide to modify an entry without prejudice to the award meant for the laureate;
The three pre-selected entries’ copyright as well as commercial and
non-commercial right shall be the property of the African Union; The commission
reserves the right to use all or any part of all the entries submitted in
whatever way it deems fit. The Commission shall take the necessary steps to
ensure that the words of Anthem that is finally chosen are translated and
adapted by lyric writers, so that it can be sung in each of the other working
languages of the Union. Participation in the competition implies acceptance of
the provisions of these rule. No recourse shall be entertained about the outcome
of the pre-selection, deliberations and the final choice. The authors of the
three best entries (anthems, flags, logos) who will be presented to the Assembly
of Heads of State and Government, shall
receive awards as follows:
Prizes to be won:
First award: US$ 7.000.00
Second award: US$ 5.000.00
Third award: US$ 3.000.00
The entries should be submitted to: The Chief Directorate: Africa Multilateral
Closing date: 25 April 2003
Bruce Berry, 17 April 2003
It seems, however, that no proposal was selected at all. A wire from the
Chinese agency Xinhua, dated from 9 July 2004, says (my translation into English
from the French text of the wire given on the Africatime website):
Addis Ababa -- The member states of the African Union have decided on Thursday in Addis Ababa to retain the emblem and the flag of the former Organization of African Unity. The African heads of states and government made this decision during the third summit of the African Union, which took place from 6 to 8 July in the Ethiopian capital city.
The image of the flag illustrated on
this page shows the emblem with the map of Africa in brown, which seems to
be incorrect. The emblem should be of the same colour as the two thin stripes,
that is dark yellow.
Ivan Sache, 14 July 2004
The image shown here with brown bands is based on a flag seen for the African
Ceasefire commission in the Darfur region of Sudan. The CFC's role is
similar to the UN peacekeepers in other conflicts. The
flag used is simply the union's flag
defaced with the commission's initials.
Marc Pasquin, 9 November 2004
by Ivan Sarajcic
The Organization of African Unity recently changed
into the African Union (http://www.africa-union.org). The logo seems to be
unchanged, but today I saw the flag of African Union hoisted along with Libyan
plain green flag in front of Libyan Embassy, here in Belgrade. The proportions
are changed from the old OAU flag, with the stripes having the ratio 3:1:8:1:3
and the emblem proportionately larger. I don't now if this is official change,
but the flag is in use, at least here, in the Libyan embassy in Belgrade.
Ivan Sarajcic, 22 July 2002
I am inclined to classify this "new" flag as an erroneous version of
the old OAU flag in use in this particular place.
Željko Heimer, 23 July 2002
The African Union website reports:
Broad green horizontal stripe at the top followed by a narrow band of gold. Broad white stripe bearing the Emblem at its centre followed by a narrow gold band and broad green stripe at the bottom.The emblem is described as:
- The colour green symbolizes African hopes and aspiration to unity.
- The gold colour stands for African wealth and bright future.
- The colour white represents the purity of Africa's desire to have genuine friends throughout the world.
2:3 by Stuart Notholt, 22 Mar 1996
Members (as of 1997-12-01): Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Dem. Rep.), Congo (Rep.), Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé & Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, the Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (West Sahara)
Morocco — not a member since 1984.11, because of the West Sahara question (ed.)
The OAU was founded on 25 May 1963 but it was only in 1970 that the flag was adopted. The multi-nation committee which designed the flag ignored personal, political and national jealousy and worked on the symbolism of the flag regardless of the color or patterns prevalent within the individual states.
The flag is a horizontal triband of green, white and green, with the bands separated by narrow gold stripes. In the center is a map of Africa in gold, within a green and gold wreath. There are seven interlocking red rings at the base.
The green is for the vegetation of sub-Saharan Africa and the gold is for the deserts of the north. The white stands for peace and unity. It may be surprising that black is not included, but the reason is that not all Africans are black and it was intended that the flag should avoid even the smallest suggestion of racism.
Following the election of a democratic government in South Africa in 1994, all countries on the continent are now members of the Organisation (except Morocco).
Bruce Berry 16 April 1998
The idea of the African Union is at least 40 years old, and Kwame Nkrumah
was its main proponent. At the OAU summit in 2000, Ghadaffi proposed the name
United States of Africa (also not his idea), but the delegates rejected it in
favour of 'African Union'. Ghadaffi's association with the Union derives from
his publicising and hosting the OAU Sirte Summit in Libya at which the Union
Act was ratified.
Dan Kashagama (General Secretary, African Unification Front), 14 Nov 2001