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Shaba / Katanga (Rep. Dem. Congo)

(separatist movement)

Last modified: 2003-07-05 by jarig bakker
Keywords: shaba | katanga |
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Flag of Katanga by Zeljko Heimer and António Martins, 25 Nov 2000 
Other Katanga pages: See also:


The province, then known as Katanga, attempted secession from in 1960, only a few days after Belgian Congo became independent. The rebel government was put down after a war lasting three years. The state of Katanga had its own flag. More recently, unrest seems to have been aimed at gaining limited autonomy within Zaire. Autonomy was declared in December 1993, but the government in Kinshasa gave no response. The bid for autonomy was led by the Union of Independent Federalists and Republicans (UFERI).
Jan Oskar Engene

This flag is widely used today's by Katanga as "Provincial" flag (Katanga has an unofficial semi-autonomy status under Kabila's regime).
Jean-Luc Sohier, 19 February 2001

Description of the flag

A friend of mine in Belgium actually had a copy of the official regulations concerning the Katangese flag! His letter notes that the flag was designed by an architect called Louis Dressen. This official flag is very similar to the one that I found printed on a map. That is still the only place I have seen a flag looking like this so obviously the letter of the law was not followed too strictly.
Leif Hellström, 30 Apr 1999

All four arms of the crosses are the same length; these crosses are supposed to represent ingots and those were (crudely) symmetrical. I have been researching Congo and Katanga for some time for an upcoming book and during this research I’ve gone through numerous photos and documents showing the flag or arms of Katanga, and I've also seen a couple of preserved flags. Hence my knowledge on this subject.
Leif Hellström, 19 Apr 1999

Meaning of the Couped Saltires

The couped saltires in the flag of Katanga were intended to represent copper bars. Katanga is the copper belt of Southern Africa.
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 09 May 1996

They are a kind of money. In central Africa, from Congo down to Zambia and Zimbabwe, copper has been cast into cross-shaped bars for trade. Those Katanga (or Baluba) crosses came up in various sizes, from a couple of centimetres to nearly half a metre in diameter.
Harald Müller, 10 May 1996

The green stripe symbolises malachite (copper ore).
Werner Steurbaut, 24 February 2001

The saltires/crosses on the flag were called "croisettes" in Katanga. Their heraldic use is prior to the State of Katanga as they were used in the arms of the Katanga Province of the Belgian Congo and the City of Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi), the capital of Katanga.
The arms of Katanga Province were: "vert with three croisettes copper"; as far as I remember the croisettes were always represented as saltires in this case.
The arms of Elisabethville and, with a slight modification, of Lubumbashi today, were: "Silver with a gules chevron, accompanied by three gules croisettes" (with, on the chevron, a silver crowned E letter for Elisabethville and just L for Lubumbashi). In this case, the croisettes were always crosses. I join an extract of the 1954 patent letter given to Elisabetville. Note that in these letter the croisettes are described as "Katangese monetary croisettes" ("croisettes monetaires katangaises") but not as saltires or crosses; on the included drawing, they are designed as crosses.
Currently, the croisettes were red saltires on most part of the Katangese flags. I remember to have seen sometimes croisettes as crosses on the flag, but never they were copper. They were also in form of saltires for other uses (by instance as rank marks for officers in Army or as marking on military vehicles).
Jean-Luc Sohier, 19 February 2001

The motto of Katanga was "Power, Hope and Peace in Prosperity" ("Force, espoir et Paix dans la Prosperite") and the components of the flag represent it: Red for Power, Green for Hope, White for Peace and the croisettes for Prosperity.
Jean-Luc Sohier, 19 Feb 2001

Variations of the flag

In paractice many variations were used, even in official use (official paper headers, army etc.), including:
  • very often and almost regularly representation of the copper pieces in red;
  • use of both saltires (more often) and crosses (less often);
  • use of different stylization of the copper pieces, varaying from those with unequal arms, over those rough stylization of arms of nearly equal length to very stylized pieces.
The variations are hardly to be wondered at, looking to the state of affairs in which the country was. One can assume that if the state lasted longer and obtained piece and order, the standardization of the design would surely follow.
Zeljko Heimer, 26 Apr 1999

Based on a fresh look through my files I can provide the following info, based on the perhaps 15-20 illustrations of actual flags or representations of flags I found:

  • All except one had cross’ arms of roughly equal length, and even that exception may have been unintentional.
  • About two-thirds had saltires and about one-third had crosses (my memory was obviously wrong on that point).
  • Most had tapering arms to their crosses/saltires; the exceptions mostly being on home-made flags.
  • A large majority of the crosses/saltires were the same red as the red field in the flag.
Leif Hellström, 21 Apr 1999

Unofficial shades, measures, and ratio

Flag of Katanga by Zeljko Heimer, 26 Apr 1999

As printed on a map of the capital Elisabethville. This has red crosses with tapering arms of equal length and width, rounded ends upper cross between the lower two.
Leif Hellström and Zeljko Heimer, 26 Apr 1999

First cross over third

Flag of Katanga by Zeljko Heimer, 26 Apr 1999

Note that the crosses have to be put verticaly; on the first level, one at the right side and on the second level, the right one under this of the first level, and the other one at the left side.
J. Feuillat, 09 Jan 1999

Saltires instead of crosses

Flag of Katanga by Zeljko Heimer, 26 Apr 1999

A flag used by a Katangese military unit has red saltires, with arms of equal length and width and rounded ends. This image is one of the most representative of how the flags looked in practice.
Leif Hellström, 26 Apr 1999

I collect banknotes and the last banknote of 10 Francs "produced" by the republic of Katanga in 1962, but never emitted (end of independence) has the national flag. The crosses are in the form of saltires (x) and not as (+); IMO that form was on the official flag of the republic
Marc Lasserre, 17 May 2002

We drew the flag in good faith from well researched and persuasive information. I'm sure that we'll find out that the truth about the flag of Katanga is more than having a site visitor saying: "That's wrong, this is the correct one" every other year. Maybe there
were several, interchangeable designs? Maybe it changed over time?...
António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 May 2002

Copper-colored crosses

Flag of Katanga by Zeljko Heimer, 26 Apr 1999

This flag (with copper-colored, symmetrical saltires, placed first above third) is listed under number 5 at the chart Flags of Aspirant Peoples [asp] as: «Katanga [Shaba] (Independent state, 1960-63) - Zaire.».
Ivan Sache, 12 Sep 1999

I think the Katanga crosses should be red, although one sometimes one sees them in copper brown. The proportions are 2:3. [Not according to the official regulation, but indeed used in most depictions.]
Harald Müller, 10 May 1996

Copper-colored crosses on stamp

[flag on stamp] by Zeljko Heimer, 26 Apr 1999

Katanga - Yvert Stampcatalogue ##66-68 depict the whole flag, anyone collecting Katanga stamps?
Jarig Bakker, 25 Apr 2003

You asked about a copy of a stamp of the series 66/68 (Yvert et Tellier) - here is the stamp #61, emitted in 1961 with the image of President Tshombe.
B. Lagarrigue, 25 Apr 2003

Assymetrical crosses

Flag of Katanga by Zeljko Heimer, 11 Jan 1999

This image was made from a real Katanga flag from the Bruce Berry’s collection. That flag clearly showed the crosses with one arm longer then others.
Zeljko Heimer, 11 Jan and 26 Apr 1999

I found an image of a Katangese coin of 5 francs showing this kind of cross.
Jarig Bakker, 31 Mar 1999

Other variations

Flag of Katanga by António Martins, 01 Dec 2000

This small flag [with hoist at the right hand of the viewer — Ed.], shows yet another variation on the theme.
Leif Hellström, 30 Apr 1999

Crosses on stamps

[Crosses on stamps #1][Crosses on stamps #2] scanned by Mike Oettle, 2 Jan 2002

On checking my Katangese stamps, I find that the drawings of the croisettes on the various flag images are fairly accurate. However, it might still be helpful for you to have the two illustrations I've prepared of the two stamp designs. For one thing, they confirm that the saltire conformation was the one preferred by this short-lived state. Yvert Stamp-Catalogue #57 and #54.
Mike Oettle, 2 Jan 2002

Katangese Military Police Flag

Military Police flag of Katanga by Ivan Sache, 08 Oct 1997

Description: White field with a light green stripe from upper hoist to lower fly, charged with a red disc topped with a red “crest”. Below the symbol, gold letters "PM".
Occurrence: Flag used during a military parade in the Katanga independent state.
Source: TV-documentary Rhodes nostalgie. The documentary tells the story of the Jewish community of the island of Rhodes. Most of them emigrated to Belgian Congo before WWII and settled in Katanga. Those who remained in Rhodes died in Auschwitz.
Accuracy: Medium. The flag was very clearly depicted by the TV-documentary but my rendition of the emblem may be approximate.
Meaning: I don't know. PM could stand for Police Militaire (Military Police). Who can say more? [see forward]
Comment: During the same documentary, the independent Kasai flag was also shown during a political meeting.
Ivan Sache, 08 Oct 1997

This flag is effectively a Military Police one (PM is for "Prevote Miltaire", Miltary Provost). The Symbol is a bomb with fllames (an old- fashioned grenade, actually). This comes from the Belgian Army, where the MP has the grenade as corps badge. The Katangese Army ("Gendarmerie Katangaise") used the same badges and insignia as the former Belgian Congo's Army ("Force Publique"), except for the officer's rank insignia, where the croisette replaced a six-pointed star.
Jean-Luc Sohier, 19 February 2001