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National flags: Is it a sign of renewed patriotism?


Miniature national flags have flooded Harare and traders on the streets of Harare say they are selling like hot cakes.

Selling for $1 in downtown Harare and $3 in the central business district, the price of the little flags has found many people picking them up to adorn their cars or homes.

The flags have become a common sight in the city as people from all walks of life appear keen to be in possession of the flags.

People who spoke to NewsDay this week said a national flag was neither a mere piece of decoration nor an object to be honoured in itself.

“It is honoured for what it represents,” said Ngonidzashe Mringani. “Many flags are held in high esteem for their history; for the sacrifices made by the people; for the qualities for which the country and people stand.”

However questions are being asked whether the flooding of the flags in the capital was a sense of renewed patriotism or a case of somebody having noticed a niche to make a few dollars.

There are people who have observed that all the craze over the flags was nothing but cosmetic patriotism driven by fear of political harassment.

They gave the typical example of the 2008 flag frenzy when almost every motorist bought a flag to protect themselves from the marauding political criminals of that time.

Then, people bought flags to “decorate” their vehicles as a “passport” to pass through “roadblocks” manned by violent political thugs.

Prior to the election runoff in 2008 people bought the flags and the phenomenon appears to have returned, raising eyebrows on the political tension that has gripped Harare.

National Museums and Monuments acting executive director Crispen Chauke said the flag was part of the national heritage.

“When we see people with it, we see people who are proud of their nation. To us, the more we see the national flag the better.

“The flag summarises all what is Zimbabwean, it embodies the national heritage. It’s a positive development.”

Chauke said he was not aware of any laws that made it mandatory for anyone intending to produce and sell flags to seek permission.

The organisation’s chief curator, Kundishora Chipunza said anyone could produce the national flag, even for commercial purposes, as long as it was made to standard.

In countries such as Angola, South Africa and United States of America national flags are very common.

To fly the national flag is viewed as a sign of pride and patriotism. It’s a positive affirmation of loyalty and commitment.

It marks out a country that has confidence in itself, and is comfortable with its place in the world, its history and its future.

Origins of national flags lie in ancient history. History has it that they may have been simply decorative streamers, or perhaps ceremonial images.

They were superior to many other emblems: cheap and simple to make; easy to carry and display; and attracting attention with their lifelike movement in the wind.

The development of national flag arose in the seventeenth century, with the creation of the first modern states. Before that most countries had only had the flag of the rulers.

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