Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The History & Significance Of The Pan-African Red, Yellow, And Green Flags

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest revision: June 18, 2022

This pancocojams post provides information about the history and cultural significance of the Pan African colors of red, yellow, and green (sometimes accompanied by the color black). 

Click for the related post on the history and cultural significance of the red, black, and green colors for African Americans.

The content of this post is provided for historical, cultural, and educational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks to those who published the YouTube sound files that are included in this post.


From Most African Flags Use the Red, Yellow, and Green Colors?

The Untold Story Behind Most African Flags by Bisi Media, Feb. 22, 2021
"On October 11th, 1897, a year after Ethiopia defended itself from Italian colonization at the Battle of Adwa, Emperor Menelik II authorized the creation of a flag containing a rectangular tri-color from top to bottom: red, yellow, and green.


These three colors red, green, and yellow with the inclusion of black will later be known as the Pan-African colors.

Although the meaning of the individual colors used in a country’s flag may differ from country to country; the countries of the flags that make use of the Pan-African colors have similar meaning with green representing the unique nature of the continent having good land for agriculture, red representing the blood, and common heritage of Africans during the fight against oppression from colonialism, yellow representing the wealth of Africa, and finally, black which signifies the color of the people."...
The overarching meaning of pan-African colors are Black unity and Black pride.


Last Updated On : February 13, 2013
"Africa is the second largest continent on Earth, with an area of about 30,221,532 square miles (11,668,599 square miles), and covering over 20 percent of the Earth's land area. Africa is made up of 54 independent countries, as well as 9 territories and a few de facto states. About 1 billion people live on the African continent.

Each of the countries of Africa has its own national flag. Many flags of African countries use colors referred to as Pan-African colors, which can be any combination of the following colors: red, green, gold (or yellow), and black. This color combination has been used in Africa for many years, and was probably taken from the Ethiopian flag.

While not every African nation has a flag that uses Pan-African colors, the majority do. Some of the nations that do not use Pan African colors include Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, and Somalia.

The red, green and yellow were used for the flag of the Ethiopian Empire in 1897, a year after Ethiopia decisively defended itself from Italian colonization at the Battle of Adwa. The flag's tri-colour scheme has existed since the early 19th century, and was previously the official banner of the Ethiopian Empire's Solomonic dynasty. The colours green, yellow, and red have carried special importance since at least the early 17th century.[3]

The royal flag often featured the emblem of a Lion of Judah, a crowned lion carrying a cross centred in the banner's yellow midsection. The flag is understood to be a link between the Ethiopian church, the peoples, and the nation that was united. The processional cross carried by the lion was the former flag or symbol of Ethiopia, and has likewise been in use since at least the early 17th century.[4] Whilst red is currently featured at the bottom of the horizontal tricolour, this was reversed until the mid-19th century. The emblem was added in 1996. What the colours symbolise varies depending on point of view. However, generally, red represents blood spilled in defence of Ethiopia; yellow represents peace and harmony between Ethiopia's various ethnic and religious groups; and green is said to symbolize hope, or the land and its fertility. Upon gaining independence from colonial rule, several newly established countries in Africa adopted these three colours in homage to Ethiopia's resistance against foreign occupation. When adopted by Pan-Africanist polities and organizations for their activities, the colours are often referred to as the Pan-African colours.[5]"

"The Rastafari movement is an African-based spiritual ideology that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica…

The name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the title (Ras) and first name (Tafari Makonnen) of Haile Selassie I before the coronation. In Amharic, Ras, literally "head", is an Ethiopian title equivalent to prince or chief, while the personal given name Täfäri (teferi) means one who is respected or feared. Jah is a Biblical name of God, from a shortened form of Jahweh or Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible. Most adherents see Haile Selassie I as Jah or Jah Rastafari, an incarnation of God the Father, the Second Advent of Christ the Anointed One, i.e. the Second Coming of Jesus Christ the King to Earth.

Many elements of Rastafari reflect its origins in Jamaica and Ethiopia, two countries with predominantly Christian culture...

Red, Gold and Green

The Rastafarian colors of green, gold and red (sometimes also including black) are very commonly sported on Rastafarian flag, icons, badges, posters etc. The green, gold and red are the colors of the Ethiopian flag and show the loyalty Rastafari feel towards the Ethiopian state in the reign of Haile Selassie. The red, black and green were the colors used to represent Africa by the Marcus Garvey movement.

The Ethiopian Flag has a different meaning for different members of Rastafari, although the proper orientation of the flag goes bottom to top as red, gold and green although many members of the movement use it in different or sometimes opposite orientation, the red gold and green are associated with the first three chakras of the body which is usually referenced as "Seals" Referring to the Seven seals Within man and womb-man, this is also in contrast with the New Haile Selassie I Bible (1962) and also the 7 different types of Biblical literature. This Ethiopian Christian and Rastafari Holy book is also known as to some as the book of the Seven seals fulfilling Revelations 5:5.

Red is said to signify the blood of martyrs, green the vegetation and beauty of Ethiopia, and gold the wealth of Africa.[59][60]"...

From [added June 18, 2022]
…"Rastas often make use of the colours red, black, green, and gold.[286] Red, gold, and green were used in the Ethiopian flag, while, prior to the development of Rastafari, the Jamaican black nationalist activist Marcus Garvey had used red, green, and black as the colours for the Pan-African flag representing his United Negro Improvement Association.[287] According to Garvey, the red symbolised the blood of martyrs, the black symbolised the skin of Africans, and the green represented the vegetation of the land, an interpretation endorsed by some Rastas.[288] The colour gold is often included alongside Garvey's three colours; it has been adopted from the Jamaican flag,[289] and is often interpreted as symbolising the minerals and raw materials which constitute Africa's wealth.[290] Rastas often paint these colours onto their buildings, vehicles, kiosks, and other items,[286] or display them on their clothing, helping to distinguish Rastas from non-Rastas and allowing adherents to recognise their co-religionists.[291] As well as being used by Rastas, the colour set has also been adopted by Pan-Africanists more broadly, who use it to display their identification with Afrocentricity;[290] for this reason it was adopted on the flags of many post-independence African states.[286] Rastas often accompany the use of these three or four colours with the image of the Lion of Judah, also adopted from the Ethiopian flag and symbolizing Haile Selassie.[286]"...



Example #1: Nyabinghi Drumming and on Bob Marley Day 2013

Jamaicans Music, Published on Feb 7, 2013

Members of the Rastafarian community sing and chant as they play nyabinghi drums at Bob Marly Museum, Jamaica.
The red, gold, and green Rastafarian flag is different from the official flag of Jamaica.
"The flag of Jamaica was adopted on August 6, 1962, the original Jamaican Independence Day, the country having gained independence from the British-protected Federation of the West Indies. The flag consists of a gold saltire, which divides the flag into four sections: two of them green (top and bottom) and two black (hoist and fly)."

Example #2: Michael Jackson - They Don't Care About Us

michaeljacksonVEVO, Uploaded on Oct 2, 2009

Music video by Michael Jackson performing They Don't Care About Us. (C) 1996 MJJ Productions Inc.
Notice the red, green, gold, and black colors on the Afro-Brazilian group Olodum. This group uses the Pan African colors and its name is derived from "Olodumare" the name of the Creator Deity of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa. Click for information about Olodum and for more videos of that group.

Example #3: Pan African Orchestra

asoper, Uploaded on May 4, 2009

PAO at Alliance Francais, Accra, Ghana. 30 March 2009
Here's some information about the Ghanaian based Pan African Orchestra:
"PAO [Pan African Orchestra] was created in 1988, by conductor and composer, Nana Danso Abiam. The orchestra's mission is to explore the classical foundations of traditional African music, which Abiam describes as “raw music material passed down from ancestors” and cultivate new compositional and orchestral techniques that integrate these ethnic styles into a continental art form, consistent with the Pan African ethos to unite the African people under one national flag. In the past two decades, the orchestra has been featured in various international magazines and has had the opportunity to play in some of the most well-known theatre houses in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada."
"The flag of Ghana was designed and adopted in 1957 and was flown until 1959, and then reinstated in 1966. It consists of the Pan-African colours of red, yellow, and green, in horizontal stripes, with a black five-pointed star in the centre of the gold stripe. The Ghanaian flag was the first African flag after the flag of Ethiopia to feature these colours.

The black star was adopted from the flag of the Black Star Line, a shipping line incorporated by Marcus Garvey that operated from 1919 to 1922,[1] and gives the Ghana national football team their nickname, the Black Stars.

The flag was designed by Theodosia Okoh. The red represents the blood of those who died in the country's struggle for independence from the United Kingdom, the gold represents the mineral wealth of the country, the green symbolises the country's rich forests and natural wealth, and the black star is the symbol of African emancipation.[2]

The flag's design influenced that of the flag of Guinea-Bissau (1973)."

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