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Anjouan (Comoros)

Ndzuwani / Mawana

Last modified: 2013-11-12 by antónio martins
Keywords: anjouan | ndzuwani | nzwani | mawana | crescent: points up (white) | hand (white) | canting | secessionist | law | sultan | crescent: points to fly (white) |
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Anjouan flag
image by Pascal Gross, 10 Apr 1998 | dexter hoisted
See also: External links:

Description of the flag

Album 2000 [pie90] says:

2. State of Anjouan (Nzwani) [unrecognized] CSW/C 2:3≅
Red flag with white hand and crescent. Somewhat different from the image above in details, but basically the same flag. It is questionable how much details we may ask from this kind of flag anyway.
Željko Heimer, 24 May 2001

In this webpage, a photo about Anjouan flag showing reverse (or maybe main side?).
Gvido Petersons, 04 Oct 2004

Though the only substantive thing that can be said about this flag photo is that the thumb is to the hoist on the visible side of the flag, at least we have some positive info about the design of this flag: shape of the hand and crescent, and position and relative size of the emblem. On the other hand, one cannot see clarly on this photo whether there are any fingers, and the ratio seems to be 1:2.
António Martins, 08 Oct 2004

Colors

As for the Anjouan flags, yes, the red has always been darker than the French red on the flags I’ve seen (although this may change / have changed as people try to affirm the French link).
Iain Walker, 14 Feb 2000

A photo showing the flag of Anjouan near to the Comorian national flag shows clearly that the former’s background is plain medium red, not dark red.
António Martins, 02 Feb 2004

Design of the hand and reverse

On Anjouan web site it seems that the hand is detached form the crescent. It’s also hard to say if the thumb is on the left or the right oriented, because we don’t know which side of the flag is represented on Anjouan website.
Pascal Gross, 10 Apr 1998

Calvarin [clv02] shows the flag of Anjouan with the hand directly placed on the crescent.
Ivan Sache, 20 Apr 2002

According to the constitution, the flag is charged with an open right hand. In any case, logic says it’s a right hand — it would be fairly unthinkable for an Islamic country to put a left hand on its flag!
Iain Walker, 10 Feb 1999

No one doubts, for the implyed resons, that the pictured hand is right, but the question about whether the thumb is pointing to the top or to the bottom of the flag remains because a right hand can be depicted both ventrally and dorsally, and if only the contour is shown, as in the anjouani flag, no one can tell the difference. To put it plainly: Should the thumb be pointing to the hoist or to the fly? And what about the reverse? Is the hand mirrored or not?, i.e., are both sides symmetrical (chiral) or identical?… (By the way, this being an islamic flag, the obverse is considered with the hoist at the viewer’s right hand.) Please note that none would necessarily be a left hand, since the first alternative presents the same design to the viewer on both sides of the flag, and the second shows the same hand, viewed ventrally in the reverse and dorsally in the obverse…
António Martins, 13 Aug 1999

Thumb is to hoist. [Photos: Post Office of Anjouan and Airport of Anjouan]
Eric Milan, 04 Dec 2003

I have a photo picked from the web showing the thumb pointing to the fly.
Mark Sensen, 14 Aug 1999

I note that the crescent and hand seem to be placed nearer to the bottom. Should it be so? Or is this a home made flag? (Are any anjouani flags not hand made, by the way?…)
António Martins, 15 Aug 1999

The cover picture for the film version of the 2004 play Pauvres Comores / Maskini Komori, avaliable in compact cassete tape and DVD, shows the «truculent comédien comorien Ibrahim BARWANE» clad with a ripped mantel patterned after four comorian flags: the Union (comorian national) flag, the former national flag, an unknown flag, and Anjouan flag — showing a red palm line on the white hand, implying that this flag shows the palm of a (therefore) right hand (thumb pointing to the fly). The crescent and the hand are clearly not connected also in this newer image.
António Martins, 13 Apr 2006

Symbology of the hand

Why does the flag features a hand above an Islamic crescent? Surely images of the human form are banned in Islam and therefore what is it doing on an Islamic flag?
Oliver J. S., 02 Jul 2001

Both Muslims and Jews are prohibited from depicting the human form; but even the strictest of both religions seem to make an exception for the hands.
Al Kirsch, 03 Jul 2001

"Anjouan" comes from Swahili "Nzwani", meaning "the Hand" — thus probably explaining the flag.
Ivan Sache, 20 Apr 2002


Political-historical background

According to a report, the separatist movement in Anjouan adopted the name Mawana, after a sultan that once ruled the island. A short note in The Indian Ocean Newsletter (764 10.05.1997: p. 4) said that «elements of Mwawana sawed down the flagpole flying the national flag and hauled up the white [?] emblem of the late sultan».
Jan Oskar Engene, Jun 1997

As far as I know the Mawana flag (the last sultan’s flag) is the same as the one in the constitution. The “hijacking” of the Mawana flag by the pro-French movement hasn’t met with everyone’s approval.
Iain Walker, 14 Feb 2000

The flag used by the Anjouani separatists was the personal standard of the last Sultan, Omar. This information was communicated in 1980 to L. Philippe [phi02a] by Said Ali Kemal, the Comorian Ambassador in France, who was the nephew of the Sultan of Anjouan and one of the sons of the Sultan of Grande Comore.
Ivan Sache, 18 Jul 2002

Since March 1997, separatist islanders of Anjouan and the Comoros government have been clashing over the status of the island. There have been reports of demonstrations, flag hoisting (and hauling), violent clashes, deaths and arrests. The flags hoisted are the "flag of a 19th-century sultanate" and the flag of France.

Reports state that the president of the Comoros promised in a television speech on Friday 1 August that Anjouan would be granted more autonomy. This was to be done by dividing the island into communes. As we have heard, however, the latest development is that a separatist president and a 13 member government has been appointed for Anjouan. On Sunday, the secessionist leader and newly appointed president Foundi Abdallah Ibrahim said: «Our demand is for separation, nothing less.» Nevertheless, Reuters reported that the demand was for separation from the Comoros and return to French rule. This would explain why they fly the tricolour. In fact, according to the Reunion newspaper Le Journal de l’Ile, participants at Sunday’s independence meeting (estimated at some 7000 people), had a picture of Jaques Chirac with the slogan «La France pour tous». The newspaper quoted a representative of the Anjouan government as saying there was two options for Anjouan: Reunification with France or independence in association with France. French officials rejected this. A second report in Le Journal de l’Ile referred to the new state as l’État d’Anjouan.

The local flag is now described as red by NANDO Times (report of 6 August, based on AFP wire): «In Anjouan, where the separatists named a “government” Tuesday, the red flag of the last sultan on that island is flying above mosques and on flagpoles alongside the French tricolour.» An earlier report by Reuters also described the flag as red. The Reunion newspaper carried several pictures of the French flag hoisted in various places on Anjouan, but it had no picture of the local flag.

Sources:

  • “Separatists on Comoran island Moheli follow lead of Anjouan”, NANDO Times, Global Briefs, 6 August 1997
  • “Barrages et drapeaux français à Moheli”, Le Journal de L’Île, 6 August 1997
  • Mohamed Kamaradine: “Comoros secessionists elect leader as "president” Reuters 10:50 a.m. 5 August 1997 Eastern
  • “Anjouan déclare son indépendance”, Le Journal de L’Île, 4 August 1997
  • “Comoros islanders demonstrate for secession”, Reuters, 07:56 a.m. 3 August 1997 Eastern
  • Mohamed Kemardine: "Comoros President grants islands more autonomy" Reuters 08:18 a.m. 2 August 1997 Eastern
Jan Oskar Engene, 06 Aug 1997


Official flag law

Recent changes

We have one newly adopted offical flag, the old white hand and crescent on a red field. According to Article 2 of the Loi fondamentale de L’île autonome de Ndzuani, «L’île Autonome d’Anjouan dispose de ses propres symboles qui cohabitent avec les symboles de l’Union des Comores. L’emblème de l’île Autonome d’Anjouan est le drapeau rouge frappé au centre d’une main droite ouverte au dessus d’un croissant de couleur blanche.» See: Constitution on line.
Jan Oskar Engene, 30 Mar 2002

The separatist, unrecognized flag (1997-2000)

Anjouan flag
image by Pascal Gross, 10 Apr 1998 | dexter hoisted

Here is the article of the constitution of Anjouan concerning the flag (found on the web site www.anjouan.org):

CONSTITUTION DE L’ETAT D’ANJOUAN

approuvée par les Anjouanais au cours du référendum du 25 février 1998.

TITRE 1: DES DISPOSITIONS GENERALES

Art. 3: L’emblème national est un drapeau rouge frappé au centre d’une main droite ouverte au-dessus d’un croissant de couleur blanche.
In English: (my translation)

CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF ANJOUAN

approved by the Anjouanais [inhabitants of Anjouan] by referendum on the 25th February 1998.

TITLE 1 : GENERAL DISPOSITIONS

Article 3: The national emblem is a red flag charged in the center with an open right hand above a white crescent.
Remark: is it a coincidence that this article speaks about «the national emblem» like in the French constitution? It seems then that there is just a flag and no coat of arms.
Pascal Vagnat, 16 Mar 1998

It is the same flag as the old sultan flag and as the post-2002 island flag within the Comorian Union.
António Martins, 01 Apr 2001


Variations of the flag

Crescent and hand connected

Anjouani flag variation
image by Pascal Gross and António Martins, Apr 2003

Calvarin [clv02] shows the flag of Anjouan with the hand directly placed on the crescent — like above, but with a larger emblem. The difference in size is probably irrelevant, however.
Ivan Sache, Apr 2003

Horizontal hand

Anjouani flag variation
image by Jean-Francois Blanc, 12 Aug 1997

Other flags in Anjouan

At www.anjouan.org, you can see the flag of Anjouan in the opening page, and in the page “phototheque”, there are several photos with flags. Interestingly enough, we can find more often the French flag then the Anjouani, and in two pictures, we can see both flags side by side.
Jorge Candeias, 19 Jan 1998

As to the frequencies of the flags, I think that it was French flag, this flag and Mawana flag, in that order, probably because the French flag is easier to come by! I didn’t see the Mawana flag much. Not much policy in evidence, although interesting as an anecdote: I arrived in Anjouan by boat from Mayotte. In Mayotte the boat (an Anjouan boat) flew the Comorien flag (the official one, green and white), as its flag of origin. Halfway over to Anjouan the Comorien flag came down and the boat sailed into Mutsamudu under the French flag (Anjouan being “French”, of course).
Iain Walker, 05 Apr 1999

Franch-anjouani mixed flag

Franch-anjouani flag
image by António Martins, 10 Feb 2000

Among the flags I saw on Anjouan in April 1998 included one that was a mixture of the French and Mawana flags: basically the blue, white, red of the French flag, but with the red part slightly stretched and incorporating the white hand and crescent [see photo]. This flag was photographed at the post office in Domoni, but I also saw it in Mutsamudu. I’ll try and find out if it’s still being used. As for this flag and the French one, it wasn’t always easy to tell the difference — as I said, it was a while before I even became aware there were two different flags. But I also saw this one flying from a government building in Mutsamudu, Public Works, I think.
Iain Walker, 10 Feb 1999, 02 Apr 1999 and 05 Apr 1999

The flag on this photo looks like a “tinkering” of a french and anjouan flag sewed together to show the aspiration of Anjouanese people to return under french administration.
Pascal Gross, 01 Apr 1999

The hand sure looks black at first glance, but it isn’t: it’s white: This picture was taken with the light source from behind, which is quite evident if you lighten it up. The hand and crescent where either made of a patch and sewn over the red field, or printed using a thick dye (or whatever). Therefore, the light from behind doesn’t cross the symbol as it crosses the flag itself. Furthermore, the upper folding of the fly further obscures the symbol area, making it look very dark. If you lighten the whole thing up, however, you’ll see it appear white by miracle.
Jorge Candeias, 02 Apr 1999


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