Friday, 15 July 2011

Flagging up an Issue

I have been pondering the Nigerian flag, flapping forlornly over the school compound in a light breeze, as if it can't be bothered displaying its pride today.
It is a green flag, for those unfamiliar with it, with a thick white vertical bar down the middle. Some have a badge positioned in the centre but this one doesn't - probably been pinched!
So a random thought was that this flag lacks a bit of pzazz, in my opinion. I know the colour and design of all flags is loaded with meaning and significance and symbolism, inducing intense feelings of pride, much saluting, chest-beating, and an upwelling of emotion at even a distant glimpse of it flying high above a government building or military installation; I understand all that but surely there is room for a bit of artistic style too!

I got my world map with the national flags surrounding it and considered the design of other flags.
Nigeria's flag is not the worst - in fact if there was a competition or award for the most boring flag, there would be quite a large number of possible candidates. No disrespect at all to any national of whatever country, but its time a few of you consulted your style gurus - or got your kids to redesign one.

So here is my TopTen (or so) of the most boring flags on the planet :
In tenth place comes Latvia. Being a relatively new nation in the post-Communist era, can you imagine the conversation: 'We need a new flag, comrades - how about brown with a thin white stripe?' 'Yeah! Yeehah! Way to go! 'Awesome!' (they watch too much American TV in Latvia).
Ninth place goes to Liechtenstein - sorry fellas, I know there aren't many of you and you are probably working hard all day making loadsamoney, but half blue and half red - come on, this is like combining a Red with a Toffee - and that little yellow badge fools nobody.
Number 8: Cyprus. If it were not for the yellow map of Cyprus on it to show you whose flag it is, it would just be a white sheet. And two little leaves? - at least Lebanon has a whole tree!
In 7th place comes San Marino. Any nation which uses the colours of Birmingham City FC for its inspiration needs help!
At 6th I would put jointly, Bahrain and Qatar who have clearly dreamed their flags up together unless they both ran out of cloth in the principal colour and have hand sewn a piecs of white onto it to make it reach as far as the flag pole. Where is the symbol of your wealth and power - an oil droplet or a camel or something?
Fifth place is awarded to Japan. If it wasn't for that big red dot, they wouldn't have had to bother at all - surely they didn't have to resort to a giant Strepsil for inspiration!
We have a tie for fourth place because Indonesia, Poland and Monaco have clearly copied each other. Come on, own up,  guys - who copied who? Poland clearly copied - probably from turning round and copying one of the others cause they have got it upside down. Monaco and Poland were obviously sitting next to each other - and all three lack a bit of imagination, I think.
So in first place - the winner of the  most boring flag on the planet contest , for sheer lack of creativity and only a snooker table for inspiration - or the outside lawn, I would nominate .... Libya. As a simple green rectangle, it isn't even worth cutting and pasting a picture of it.

If you want to share good practice, take a look at some of the others  to see what they have come up with - South Africa, Swaziland, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Kiribati, Malaysia, to name but a few.
I reckon I may have upset about 500 million people now - but it's not my fault - I didn't design them! With a year to go before the next Olympics when much flag-waving will be in evidence, there is yet time for a re-think!
For sheer novelty, I think a special mention should go to Nepal for its flag shaped like half a Christmas tree with two baubles on it and red - like Santa- for a Buddhist nation that is a really generous gesture towards Christianity if ever there was one.
Needless to say, the views expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of VSO - but they are mine!
So, what about nominating your Top Ten of the best. I know what mine would be - for colour combination, simplicity yet elegance of design, not to mention its historical connotations, how can you beat our own Union Flag1 (The national anthem, however is another matter entirely!)

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