Oh, my flag you are my hope and symbol of my loyalty

By: Mohammed Osman

Khartoum, (Sudanow)-Quite a few things are unifying for the Sudanese people as the current National flag. With its four colours , representatives of the Sudanese Afro-Arab affiliation, the present day flag has undergone two major differences before it settled at today’s copy.

It is a public knowledge that the present Sudan flag is not the one that was hoisted by historic leaders Ismail al-Azhary and Mohamed Ahmed Mahjoub on 1 January 1956 in place of the Anglo-Egyptian condominium marking the independence of the country.

Fourteen years later, former President Jaafer Nimeiri changed the independence flag with the present one. It thereafter remained the national symbol and constitutionally recognized flag.


It was only recently that the Sudanese people have become aware that it was a lady that designed a national symbol to express their joy over independence. And that it was an MP from Darfur , Abdul Rahaman Dabkka, who presented the motion before the parliament-at the time known as the House of Representatives- on the independence of the Sudan, and hoisting of the Sudanese national flag, thus becoming the symbol of unity.

According to Dr. Dawood Saghah, History Professor at the University of Khartoum, that woman was Sudanese teacher Al-Sareerah Makki who was born in Omdurman in 1927. She was looking forward to the day on which the Sudan would gain its independence, the colonizer would leave and the country would be ruled by one of its nationals.

When she heard that the deputies of the people had declared the independence of the Sudan in the Parliament in December 1955. Al-Sareerah drew a flag of three longitudinal colors representing the three main features of the environment of the Sudan. Those colors were: Blue denoting the River Nile and water, yellow symbolizing the desert and sand and green which stands for the forest and agriculture.

Some analysts believe that designer was referring to the identity of the Sudan which is made up of Arabism “the desert” and Africanism “the forest” and the Nile that amalgamate the two together.

The present flag was designed after the military take over by Jaafer Nimeiri in 1969 and when a competition was organized for drawing a new flag in which, according Dr. Dawood, painters, ministers and laymen took part. Out of 72 works, the competition was won by a designer- painter Abdul Rahman Ahmed al-Jaaly.

The winner said in a press statement that, with this design, he intended to free himself from the geographic and national patterns and choose what suited the political atmosphere prevailing at that time. He said his aim was to bring together the regional and national changes and the symbolism of the colors, choosing the red color to symbolize the revolutions in the Sudan as well as Arab and African affiliation, the white color for peace, the green for economic growth and prosperity and the back for the African nature of the Afro-Arab Sudan.

Understandably, the change of the flag was not endeared immediately and caused an emotional shock for the people who survived the events that led to the independence and who learned by the tender hearts the song of the independence flag in schools.
Oh, my flag you are my hope and symbol of my loyalty
You are the symbol of the parents and emblem of the martyrs
Your green color is growth; your blue color is water
Your yellow color is land redeemed by the faithful

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of late Azhary and the other parties which split from it until now have kept the independence fag as their party emblem and still demand a return to it. Party politics apart, they understand that the current flag remains the symbol of national unity and the country’s emblem

On each independence anniversary, debate is renewed on how Nimeiri dared to cast aside the independence flag, thinking that the history of the Sudan began with his regime and imitate the flags of Arab countries like Kuwait, Palestine and Jordan. And demands on this occasion arise for a return to that flag.

Such a demand could have been fulfilled by the government that followed the uprising of April 1985 which overthrew Nimeiri , but failure to do so was justified by Gabon adopting the model. It is true that the two flags share the colors but the order was different, something which weakens this justification. This justification is further weakened when we find that the flags of African Chad and European Romania are closely identical and furthermore there is resemblance in colors and order of the flags of other countries with slight differences.

For his part, Dr. Sadek Mohamed Abdul Halim, Professor of Psychology in the University of Khartoum, plays down the psychological effect of changing the independence flag.


He believes that the colors of the present flag fulfills their psychological role of creating feelings of strength, peace and affiliation, besides it has been flying for more than 40 years.
The present generation did not see the old flag and therefore considers the issue is not that important to have controversy around it, Abdul Halim said, adding that those who are opposed to the present flag are driven by partisan motives and they regard it as Nimeiri ’s flag .

Dr. Dawood agrees with this opinion and believes that the Sudan has ever since independence been facing tremendous challenges and problems against which the flag issue as a symbol fades away which need to be resolved. For present day generation, there is nothing dearer and more unifying than their national flag and the national anthem.

They may disagree on politics and politicians, but talks to any Sudanese outside the Sudan, rebels included, they will see nothing more unifying than the flag. Not a single time during all peace talks, with rebels past and present, has anyone contested the symbolism of the national flag. That alone makes celebration and joy accompanying the hoisting of the national flag, justifiable.

Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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