A continent of colour, vibrancy, determination and contrasts, Africa is often in the news for the wrong reasons, but there is far more to it than the media diet of armed revolutions, wars, poverty and famine. Africa is a place where art has always been close to the hearts of its people, from the cave paintings of the Algerian desert, the Egyptian hieroglyphics, or the masks of the Ashanti Empire or the kingdom of Benin.
Africa’s flags are no exception. Once carved up by colonial powers greedy for natural resources, many African countries seized their independence and freedom during the 20th century. The birth of so many independent nations gave rise to a plethora of flags with meanings of struggles of the past and hopes for the future. It is here where we find a common theme, the Pan African colours. Influenced by the flag of Ethiopia, at one time Africa’s only country not colonised by people from abroad, the colours of red, green and yellow (yellow sometimes replaced with black) were adopted by countries as far apart as Malawi and Ghana as Africans took their place among the stage of free nations. The first African state to adopt a red, gold and green flag upon independence was Ghana in 1957. The other set of Pan African colours was influenced by the UNIA led by accomplished statesman Marcus Garvey in around 1920.
It is this continent that has given us some of the world’s brightest, most expressive and meaning-rich flags. The author of this article also has a connection with Africa. His mother hails from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, a nation with a flag of four colours.
Internet penetration is relatively low-key in Africa but nearly all African territories still have their own ccTLDs. One of the largest markets for mobile phones (with or without internet access) in the world is Somalia, and Google maintains servers in Kenya and Mauritius.
Please note: South Sudan, Western Sahara, the de facto republics in Somalia, one of the Congos and Ascension Island could not be found for this article. The Libyan flag is the old one of the Libyan Arab Jamhiriyyah of Pres. Muammar Gaddafi, now no longer in use.
.bf Burkina Faso
.cf Central African Republic
.ci Côte d’Ivoire
.cv Cape Verde
.gm The Gambia
.gq Equatorial Guinea
.sh Saint Helena
.sl Sierra Leone
.st Sao Tome and Principe
.za South Africa
Part Five sees us journeying across the Indian Ocean to visit the continent of Asia. From the virtual land of little waving flags, see you next weekend.
Apologies to everyone for the late showing of the article this Saturday. This is in fact the first posted from my new laptop, a Toshiba C50-B-189 Satellite, which I only picked up this morning from the Argos store in Broadway, Stratford. My previous laptop, also a Toshiba Satellite, finally ‘handed in its notice’ after four years’ loyal service to myself and the Half-Eaten Mind. Indeed I established the blog as well as its associated sites on that very laptop, a C660 model. But now that baby has flown the nest to the great laptop scrapheap.
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