The government of Malawi adopted the current flag when the nation gained independence from Britain, on July 6, 1964. Malawi’s National Assembly recently re-adopted the flag on May 28, 2012, after briefly using a different flag since July 29, 2010.
The Republic of Malawi lies in the interior of the southern part of Africa, spanning a sliver of land extending along the Rift Valley on the western shore of Lake Nyasa south to encompass Lake Chilwa and land immediately south of the capital city of Blantyre. The current Malawi flag recognizes Malawi’s scenic beauty and bright potential.
Three horizontal stripes equally divide the flag from top to bottom into black, red and green fields. The topmost black section signifies the people and carries a red rising sun in the center. This image honors the beauty of the sun rising over the waters of Lake Nyasa. It also recognizes Malawi’s developing role as a new sovereign nation anticipating a bright future. Red in the flag acknowledges the struggle for independence. Green pays respect to the natural abundance and resources of Malawi.
Landlocked Malawi today sustains a high population density. Poverty has become a significant issue. Tanzania maintains a narrow border along Malawi’s northern edge. Zambia sits to the northwest. Mozambique surrounds Malawi’s southwestern, southern and southeastern boundary. This geography and the history of the region have influenced Malawi’s flag.
People have lived in the Rift Valley for thousands of years, possibly as early as 8,000 B.C. In 1891, a British colonial government assumed control over the region. Different versions of a colonial flag carrying the Union Jack in the upper left hand corner and a seal representing Nyasaland on the right hand side existed between 1914 and 1919, and 1919 and 1964. From 1951 to 1963, Malawi formed part of a federation of colonies along with Northern and Southern Rhodesia. Malawi finally became a sovereign nation in 1964, when the colonial federation dissolved. Malawi’s National Assembly adopted its current flag at that time.
Briefly between 2010 and 2012, Malawi used an official flag that reversed the location of the black and red stripes. The black stripe carried a full sun in white to celebrate economic development in Malawi since independence. This flag did not gain widespread popularity. The National Assembly reverted to the original Malawi flag following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.