A flag is an object of potent symbolism, so potent as to provoke nationalist zeal in people, ignite Fidelity for a course and even lead people to pay the Supreme price for the same.
It is for this reason that almost every nation on earth has a flag — a symbol by which it is not only identified but respected as well. Nigeria is one such country and the sole focus of this post.
Flags come in disparate designs and colours, but they are never random. That’s in the sense that there is always a purpose and meaning for the design of a flag, the colours and symbols used, etc.
Some of the colours and symbols synthesise a people’s cultural heritage, hopes and aspirations, and even their natural resources and religious fidelities—the examples are legion.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on Nigeria, a country with a simple-enough flag, latent with meaning that is almost in abjection at this point. You’re welcome to tag along as we roll.
The Nigerian flag is almost always rectangular in shape, with green as the first colour, followed by white, and then another green. The use of green twice is markedly symbolic, emphasizing the country’s vast agricultural lands and agricultural prosp[ects. Whether the land has been put to true use is a different debate entirely.
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The Making of The Nigerian Flag
Before a country is born, usually a flag is made and used to symbolise that country. It gives hope and meaning to the people fighting to have that country, It is something they can hold to and look up to amid the struggles for a country of their own.
In some instances, a flag comes into existence soon after a country is born. In both instances, the flag is rarely ever random, it usually totes imageries that link to the people’s lives, preoccupations, resources, and even hopes and aspirations.
The Nigerian flag was designed by Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi, who was then a student in London. The national planning committee had put together a competition for the design of the flag, and Akinkunmi came tops, beating thousands of other entries to it. As a result, his name is inextricably tied to that of the country.
Nigerian Flag Design: Between Symbolism & National Reality
When Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi put together the Nigerian flag, with its potent green and white colours, the purpose was simple: to illuminate the country’s throbbing agricultural universe (symbolised by the colour green) and to affirm that the country is peaceful and united (symbolised by the colour white) despite the abundance of disparate ethnic nationalities.
As a matter of fact, the design was apt back then, because it wasn’t exactly the era of oil – or petroleum resources generally. This was the era of thriving cocoa boards in the Western region, mighty groundnut pyramids in the north, coal from the east, and other resources.
But the reality has since changed, with the discovery of oil, iron focus on that resource, shitty leadership and a deliberate if absurd reluctance to diversify the economy and exploit other resources optimally for national development.
What’s more, the white itself no longer bears much meaning because Nigeria as presently constituted is not exactly on the cusp of peace. With terrorists making a bazaar of the northeast, the IPOB erupting for self-determination in the east, and herdsmen rampaging in the west and elsewhere, Nigeria appears disoriented and far away from peace.
The meaning of the design of the Nigerian flag is agricultural sinews, peace, and unity in diversity. At the moment, sadly, Nigeria has lost the meaning of its flag. It is still searching for that meaning—a lancinating irony.