Pan-African colours

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The traditional flag of Ethiopia. Despite not being Pan-African in its original conception, it has influenced the flags of many Pan-African organizations and polities.
Unofficial pan-African or UNIA flag

The term Pan-African colours may refer to two sets of three colours. Red, yellow, and green are inspired by the flag of Ethiopia. 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 organisations also often use the colours.

Red, black, and green are the other set of colours inspired originally by Marcus Garvey and the UNIA in the United States. They are sometimes used to represent black nationalism or black liberation rather than Pan-Africanism.[1]

The Ethiopian colours[edit]

Green, gold and red are now found on the national flags of many African nations. The colour combination was borrowed from the flag of Ethiopia.[citation needed] The Ethiopian flag has influenced the flags of many Pan-African organizations and polities. Except for a brief period of occupation by Kingdom of Italy, Ethiopia remained outside European control during the colonial era by defeating the Italian army at the battle of Adwa, Ethiopia, in 1896. 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 gold, red and green flag upon independence was Ghana in 1957, designed by Theodosia Okoh.[2][3]

The UNIA colours[edit]

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."[citation needed] 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.

Current country flags with the Pan-African symbolism[edit]

The following are countries and territories that use one or both sets of Pan-African colours in their official flags:


Non-national flags[edit]

Former flags with pan-African colours[edit]

Non Pan-African flags with Pan-African colours[edit]

Flags listed may use the Pan-African colours, but are not Pan-African flags as the official symbolism of these colours is not identified as relating to Pan-Africanism. Rastafari colours also originate from the Ethiopian flag, but though RastafarI thought harbours Pan-African sympathies, its use of the Ethiopian flag is historically rooted in the veneration of former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shelby, Tommie (October 2003). "Two Conceptions of Black Nationalism". Political Theory. 31 (5): 664–692. doi:10.1177/0090591703252826. ISSN 0090-5917.
  2. ^ "Mrs Theodosia Okoh: The Woman Who Designed The Ghanaian Flag", African Celebs.
  3. ^ Mrs. Theodosia Salome Okoh Profile at GhanaWeb.
  • Znamierowski, Alfred (2001). The World Encyclopedia of Flags: The Definitive Guide to International Flags, Banners, Standards and Ensigns. London: Anness Publishing.