Flag Of Ghana: History And Meaning

The flag of Ghana is the most important national symbol of this republic located in the Gulf of Guinea, in western Africa. The pavilion is made up of three horizontal stripes of red, yellow and green, in descending order.

In the central part of the yellow stripe is a black five-pointed star, which has become the most prominent symbol of Ghanaian identity.

The history of the flags of Ghana began after European colonization. Although the current Ghanaian territory was occupied by different African kingdoms, the first modern conventional flag that flew in the territory was the Portuguese. Later, Ghana became a British colony and had its colonial flag.

The current symbol was designed by Theodosia Okoh and was adopted with the independence of the country in 1957. The color red represents Ghanaian blood shed in independence, while yellow is the symbol of wealth. The green represents nature and forests, and the black star represents the independence of the peoples of Africa.

History of the flag

Ghana, as a country, was born out of the borders established by the European powers. However, its history is much older. Different kingdoms of the Akan people were present in the Ghanaian territory since the 5th century BC.

The Akan peoples dominated the region for many centuries, and by the 11th they had at least five states in the area.

On the other hand, few places in the world were as colonially attractive for different European countries as the Gold Coast. The gold resources made that in addition to Portugal, colonies of the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Prussia settled.

The territory became an attractive and disputed place, in which the native peoples also played.

Portuguese colonization

The Akan began doing business with the Portuguese, who were the most seasoned navigators on the African Atlantic Coast. This occurred in the 15th century, and the Portuguese began to call the area Costa de Ouro (Gold Coast). Its merchants established different settlements on the coast.

The Portuguese Gold Coast was established as a colony from 1482, with the founding of the Castelo de São Jorge da Mina (Fort Elmina) in the current city of Elmina. Beginning in 1518, the colony began to have ruling rulers.

However, the colony ended in 1642, when all the remaining territory was ceded to the Dutch Gold Coast. In recent years, the flag used by the Portuguese colony was the same as the Empire, at that time.

Dutch colonization

Starting in 1598, Dutch navigators and conquerors arrived in these lands and formed the Dutch Gold Coast. This was established after the construction of several forts.

With the passing of time, the Dutch became the most important colonizers of the Gold Coast, after taking the Castelo de São Jorge da Mina, originally Portuguese.

Unlike other small and ephemeral colonies such as the Swedish Gold Coast, the Prussian Gold Coast or the Danish Gold Coast, the Dutch colony remained between 1598 and 1872, when its already reduced territory was ceded to Great Britain. This was done within the framework of the Anglo-Dutch Treaties of 1870-1871.

The flag that was used in the territory was the one of the Dutch Company of the West Indies. This consisted of the Dutch tricolor with the initials of the company in black, located in the central part of the white stripe.

Danish colonization

In 1650, Sweden established a colony on the Gold Coast through presence in eight coastal forts. However, this colonial project was short-lived, as in 1663 the entire colony was sold to Denmark, which formed the Danish Gold Coast. This territory became the second most important after the Dutch colony.

The Danish territory was maintained for almost two centuries, until 1850. In that year the forts were sold to the United Kingdom, given the weakness that Denmark faced after the independence of Norway from its territory. The flag that was used was the same current Danish flag, which is the oldest in force in the world.

Denmark flag

British colonization

The British were far from being the first to reach the Gold Coast. Unlike many other regions in Africa, this area was particularly dominated first by Portugal and then by the Netherlands and Denmark, with a brief Swedish attempt.

However, by 1821, the British began to have their first possessions on the Gold Coast.

Since then, the British were made with the objective of controlling and colonizing the area. For that they established two fronts: one of conquest against the aboriginal peoples and another of purchase before the European powers. In 1850, the Danes sold their forts to the British, expanding their territory on the Gold Coast.

However, the peak moment was the cession of the Dutch colony and especially the most important fort, Elmina. This led to the founding of the British colony of the Gold Coast in 1867.

Ashanti Kingdom Presence

The British also established their dominance by overcoming the local kingdoms of Ashanti and Fante militarily, but it was this situation that brought them the most trouble. During the entire process of British colonization, different conflicts were taking place in the framework of the Anglo-Ashanti Wars.

Conflicts lasted throughout the 19th century, and although the Ashanti delivered major defeats to the British, they were still dominated. The Ashanti would end up being a British protectorate by 1902.

The most important Ashanti emblem has been the golden stool. The symbol is included in the flag that this town adopted in 1935 by Emperor Asantehene Prempeh II, after the military defeat by the British.

Colonial flag

The British made the Gold Coast a producing and extracting colony of minerals and other products such as pepper and cocoa. Multiple transport infrastructures were established in the territory, as did the cities. In addition, a colonial flag was adopted.

The symbol consisted of the traditional British colonial scheme. In the canton the Union Jack was located, and in the right part, the colonial symbol.

This was a circle in which a sunset landscape is shown with an elephant on a savannah, with a mountain and a coconut tree behind it. At the bottom was the inscription GC, acronym for Golden Coast (Gold Coast).

Independence

The process of decolonization in Africa began to emerge strongly in the mid-20th century. The Gold Coast colony was no exception and achieved self-government in 1947. Ten years later, on March 6, 1957, the colony declared its independence under the name of Ghana.

For the new country, Ghanaian teacher and artist Theodosia Okoh was commissioned to design the flag. The symbol adopted the Pan-African colors and wanted to represent the people of Ghana as a whole, as well as the geography of the territory.

The Ghanaian flag was the second, after Ethiopia, to use the Pan-African colors. This makes it the first independent colony to claim these colors.

Union of African States

Quickly and after its independence, Ghana undertook the task of participating in a state pan-African project. This was the Union of African States, which is now considered one of the forerunners of the African Union.

In the first place, the union was made up of Ghana and Guinea between 1958 and 1961. Its flag kept the design of the Ghanaian but with two stars, one representing each state.

In 1961, Mali became part of the Union. That involved adding an additional star to the flag, making it three.

White flag

The Union of African States was quickly dissolved in 1963. Back to full Ghanaian independence, a constitutional referendum was held in the country in 1964.

In this vote, with accusations of irregularity, the increase of powers to then-president Kwame Nkrumah and the establishment of a one-party system in Ghana were approved.

The only legal party in Ghana at the time was the Convention People’s Party, whose flag is a horizontal tricolor of green, white and red. Based on that, the Ghanaian national flag in 1964 changed from yellow to white, to be in tune with the colors of the single party.

Reinstatement of the 1957 flag

1966 was a watershed year in the history of Ghana. At that time, the Nkrumah government was deposed by a military coup. A series of instabilities began in the country, but the multiparty system quickly resumed.

As a consequence of the end of the previous regime, the original Ghanaian flag approved in 1957 was re-adopted. This is the one that remains in force.

Meaning of the flag

The Ghanaian national flag was conceived from the beginning to represent a country that was being born and all its components.

According to the creator, Theodosia Okoh, red was the representation of the blood of those who died or worked in the struggle for independence. Instead, yellow is the symbol of the country’s mineral wealth.

The color green is the symbol of Ghana’s plant richness, so it is related to its forests. Instead, the black star symbolizes African unity and its independence. This last symbol is the one that has stood out the most in the history of Ghana, becoming a reference even for sports teams.

References

  1. African Celebs. (sf). Mrs Theodosia Okoh: The Woman Who Designed The Ghanaian Flag. African Celebs . Recovered from africancelebs.com.
  2. Entralgo, A. (1979). Africa: Society . Editorial of Social Sciences: La Habana, Cuba.
  3. Flex Newspaper. (January 29, 2017). Theodosia Salome Okoh, Ghana’s Illustrious Daughter. Flex Newspaper . Recovered from flexgh.com.
  4. Government of Ghana. (sf). The National Flag. Government of Ghana . Recovered from ghana.gov.gh.
  5. McBrewster, J., Miller, F. and Vandome, A. (2009). History of Ghana . Saarbrücken, Germany et al .: Alphascript Publishing.
  6. Smith, W. (2013). Flag of Ghana. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc . Recovered from britannica.com.

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