The term Pan-African colours refers to two different sets of three colours: green, yellow and red (inspired by the flag of Ethiopia), and red, green and black (which were adopted by the United States-based Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, or UNIA). They are used in flags and other emblems of various countries and territories in Africa and the Americas to represent Pan-Africanist ideology. The Rastafarian movement and many Pan-African organizations also often employ the colours for their activities.
The Ethiopian colours
The colour combination was borrowed from the flag of Ethiopia. Although not Pan-African in its conception, the Ethiopian flag has influenced the flags of many Pan-African organizations and polities. Except for a brief period of occupation by Italy under the Fascists, Ethiopia remained outside European control during the colonial era. As a result, the country drew the admiration of many newly independent states in Africa. The adoption of the Ethiopian national colours by many Pan-African entities is a consequence of this. The first African state to adopt a red, gold and green flag upon independence was Ghana in 1957.
The UNIA colours
The UNIA founded by Marcus Garvey has a constitution which defines red, black, and green as the Pan-African colours: "red representing the noble blood that unites all people of African ancestry, the colour black for the people, green for the rich land of Africa." The UNIA flag was designated the official colours of Black Africans by the UNIA at its convention in Madison Square Garden on August 13, 1920 in New York City, United States.
Alternatively, it was explained by journalist Charles Mowbray White that Marcus Garvey proposed the colours for the following reasons: "Garvey said red because of sympathy for the 'Reds of the world', and the Green their sympathy for the Irish in their fight for freedom, and the Black- [for] the Negroes".
Current flags with the Pan-African colours
The following are countries and territories that use one or both sets of Pan-African colours in their official flags:
French Guiana (unofficial)
Former flags with the colours
- Nordic Cross Flag
- Pan-African flag
- Pan-Arab colors
- Pan-Iranian colors
- Pan-Slavic colors
- United States of Africa
- Znamierowski, Alfred (2001). The World Encyclopedia of Flags: The Definitive Guide to International Flags, Banners, Standards and Ensigns. London: Anness Publishing.