/ 22 April 2003

New AU anthem, flag not attracting much interest

The Department of Foreign Affairs was tightlipped on Tuesday on the progress of the national leg of a continental competition to find new symbols for the African Union (AU), but indications were that it was not going well.

According to a newspaper advertisement placed by Foreign Affairs, the closing date to find a new anthem, flag and logo for the African Union is Friday April 25, but an official who wanted to remain anonymous said not a single entry had been received in all three categories by late last week.

Asked to confirm the veracity of the information on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said: ”I can’t say at this stage and will have to wait for the closing date to gauge the responses.”

Mamoepa said they had placed the advertisements for the first time as soon as the AU had instructed them to publicise the competition. They also ran the advertisements for a second time in national newspapers last week.

According to the advertisement, the public is invited to participate in the competition, which is open to all citizens of member states of the AU.

The brief for the anthem is that it should be composed so that the first stanzas — or a refrain and two verses — sung or played with musical instruments during official ceremonies should not exceed one minute. Each entry should include the lyrics, the written music, a good sound recording of the instrumental and/or sung music, and a clear and concise explanatory note. It must be submitted in one of the working languages of the AU — English, Arabic, French or Portuguese.

For the flag, each example should be submitted in three copies in colour, with an explanatory note. The note must indicate, among other things, the proposed meanings of the colours, designs, figures, or symbols as well as their respective sizes.

The logo must likewise be submitted in three copies with an explanatory note.

According to the advertisement each work would be a new creation or a modification of the Organisation of African Unity symbol. In composing the symbols, candidates must draw inspiration from a long list of given values including ”freedom, solidarity, courage, work, fraternity, sanctity of life, justice, universality, hope and future”.

These values could be drawn from African history, culture and spirituality.

The three best entries would be presented to the second ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the union to take place in Maputo, in July, where the AU’s official symbols would be chosen. – Sapa