The term Pan-African colours can 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 employ the colours for their activities.
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.
The Ethiopian colours
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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. 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 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 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.
Current country flags with the Pan-African symbolism
The following are countries and territories that use one or both sets of Pan-African colours in their official flags:
Alternative African American flag French Guiana (unofficial) Flag of the Union of African States (1958–1961)
Former flags with the colours
Biafra (1967–1970) Cape Verde (1975–1992) People's Republic of Congo (1970–1991) Ghana (1964–1966) Malawi (2010–2012) Rwanda (1961–2001) South Kasai (1960–1961)
Non Pan-African flags with Pan-African colours
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 are not related to Pan-Africanism.
- Flag of Lithuania
- Malay tricolour
- Nordic Cross Flag
- Pan-African flag
- Pan-Arab colours
- Pan-Slavic colours
- 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.