The Flag of Zimbabwe: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: December 4, 2022
© Steve Allen/Shutterstock.com
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On April 18, 1980, the flag of Zimbabwe’s current design was selected. The flag that served as inspiration for the design is flown by the country’s governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. Zimbabwe’s national flag comprises seven equally spaced horizontal stripes in green, gold, red, and black. A Zimbabwean bird sits on top of a red five-pointed star within a white triangle to the left of the flag. This bird most likely depicts an African fish eagle or a Bateleur eagle. The purpose and symbolism underlying this flag’s carefully chosen design have a long history. We will dive further into the significance, history, and symbolism of the Zimbabwean flag in this article.

Flag of Zimbabwe History

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1895 to 1964

Zimbabwe, previously known as Southern Rhodesia, came under the jurisdiction of the British South Africa Company for thirty years before becoming a British self-governing colony in 1923. Zimbabwe chose a new flag on April 8, 1964, in response to opposition to British attempts to advance democracy. The Royal Air Force ensign, which many Rhodesians served under throughout World War II, was reminiscent of the new flag. This flag replaced the former British Blue Pennant, or Blue ensign, for Zimbabwe. Some organizations or regions connected to or formerly connected to the United Kingdom use the Blue Ensign, one of the numerous British ensigns. It can be worn unadorned or covered in a badge or other insignia.

1968

A new flag was adopted on November 11, 1968. The new pattern included the full coat of arms in vertical stripes colored green, white, and green. The nation’s coat of arms was in the middle of this triband. This nation’s flag featured the Zimbabwe bird for the first time. However, it had been a component of the coat of arms since 1924.

1979

The country restructured as “Zimbabwe Rhodesia” after the 1979 Internal Settlement between both the government and conservative black nationalists, and then a new flag was approved on September 4 of that year to signify the shift. The Zimbabwe Rhodesia flag was designed by Flight Lieutenant Cedric Herbert, a member of both the Rhodesian Heraldry and Genealogy Society and the Rhodesian Air Force.

After Zimbabwe was given independence by the UK in April of 1980, a new national flag was, however, adopted. An unknown designer gave a prototype of the flag to the Minister of Public Works, Richard Hove. The Zimbabwe Bird was not envisioned in the initial scheme. This was added as a result of Cederic Herbert’s request. The flag currently in use has this design.

Flag of Zimbabwe Meaning

flag of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s flag represents many things such as culture, liberation, wealth, agriculture, peace, and prosperity.

Design

A red five-pointed star placed on a white triangle is surrounded by a yellow or golden Zimbabwean bird to the left (at the hoist of the flag). The remaining seven horizontal stripes on the flag are all identical widths and are in the following order starting from the top: green, red, black, yellow (gold), then green. The white triangle is separated from the stripes by a thin black line. The flag’s width-to-length ratio is 1 to 2.

Colors:

Zimbabwe’s national flag is composed of five colors green, yellow (gold), red, black, and white. The colors of the Zimbabwean flag have political, geographical, and cultural meanings. Green represents the agricultural and rural areas of Zimbabwe. Yellow represents the wealth of minerals throughout the country, especially gold. Black is a depiction of the heritage, race, and culture of the black majority, while red is a symbol of the bloodshed in the “battle for liberation” (in the first and second Chimurenga wars).  Peace is represented by the white triangle.

Flag of Zimbabwe Symbolism

After a number of democratic and free elections, the Republic of Zimbabwe was formally proclaimed on April 18, 1980, under the present-day flag. The white triangle features a representation of the Zimbabwe Bird, the country’s national emblem. The Zimbabwean bird is thought to stand for a more ancient, pre-colonial origin of authority and status. The official symbol of the nation’s objectives, the red star underneath the bird, is generally considered to represent radicalism and the revolutionary struggle for independence and equality. The white triangle represents national peace.

There are many interpretations of the flag’s colors as well. Black, for instance, symbolizes the ethnic majority, crimson, the bloodshed during the liberation movement, green, agriculture, yellow, mineral wealth, and white, peace, and prosperity.

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The Featured Image

flag of Zimbabwe
The national flag of the Republic of Zimbabwe (formally known as Southern Rhodesia from 1895 to 1980)
© Steve Allen/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

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Sources
  1. The Flager, Available here: https://theflager.com/zimbabwe-flag/
  2. Vexillology, Available here: https://vexillology.fandom.com/wiki/Zimbabwe
  3. World Population Review, Available here: https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/zimbabwe/flag