Last modified: 2001-12-21 by zeljko heimer
Keywords: senegal | star (green) | pan-african | french west africa | mali federation | union of african states |
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2:3~ | stripes 1+1+1 |
by Zeljko Heimer
Current flag adopted 20 August 1960 (or September 1960), coat of arms adopted December 1965.
On 4 April, 1959, French Sudan and Senegal formed the Mali Federation. The federation became independent on 20 June, 1960, and Senegal seceded from it on 22 August 1960, at which point it replaced the federation flag with similar tricolour with a green star, instead of the kanaga (black man figure) in the Federation flag.Mark Sensen, 8 April 1996
The details of the flag design are uncertain. The width to length ratio is given as 2:3 by most authors, but some indicate it as approximate ratio. It is probable that it is the de facto ratio which may not be prescribed at all. The size of the green star is also reported differently, varying the diameter of the circle in which it is inscribed from 2/3 to 1/3 of the width of one stripe.Zeljko Heimer, 13 November 2000
1. From the website of the government of Senegal
[The original text of the Constitution is in French. Below is my translation of article 1]
Constitution of the Republic of Senegal
First Title: Of State and Sovereignty
The Republic of Senegal is secular, democratic and social. It insures equality regarding the law for all citizens, without distinction of origin, race, sex, religion. It respects all beliefs.
(Constitutional Law #78-60 of 28 December 1978)
The official language of the Republic of Senegal is French. The national languages are Diola, Malinké, Pular, Sérère, Soninké, and Wolof. The motto of the Republic of Senegal is:'Un Peuple, un But, une Foi' ['One People, one Goal, one Faith'].
(Constitutional law #63-22 of 7 March 1963)
The flag of the Republic is made of three vertical equal stripes, green, gold and red. It is charged with a green five-pointed star in the center of the yellow stripe. The law determines the seal and the anthem of the Republic.
The principle of the Republic is: government of the people by the people and for the people.
2. From www.epa-prema.net/mfas/drapeau.htm
Information on the origin and meaning of the colours [also in French, my summary of the relevant parts below]
Historically, the three colours represent the three political parties which merged to form 'Union Progressiste Sénégalaisé (Senegalese Progressist Union - L.S. Senghor's party), green for 'Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais' (Senegalese Democratic Bloc), yellow for 'Mouvement Populaire Sénégalais' (Senegalese People's Movement) and red for 'Parti Sénégalais d'Action Sociale' (Senegalese Party for Social Action)
[The site also mentions the evident influence of the French Tricolore. Smith says the three colours were found in political party flags but recognized as Pan-african colours]
Islam, the main religion in Senegal, is represented by the green stripe at hoist. Christians interpret green as a symbol of hope, Animists as a symbol of fecundity. The three stripes stand for the Christian trinity, a symbol of unity.
[I am not totally convinced by this ecumenical explanation.]
Yellow (for gold) is the symbol of wealth and economical progress, source of cultural elevation. The golden colour is not only a material symbol, but also the colour of spirit, arts and literature. Literature teachers wear a yellow blouse.
Red is the colour of courage, sacrifice and fight against underdevelopment.
The star is a symbol common to all regions and religions. It stands for perfection, light and knowledge and is common in Black African symbolism. Its green colour represents the hope caused by the independence of Senegal. It is five-pointed to recall the human ideogram which was displayed in the middle of the flag of the former Mali Federation.
[Smith just says the ideogram was replaced by the star.]
The Senegalese Army flags follow the French model, being the national flag with the writing 'République du Sénégal' and the name of the corps. The site says later that the national motto is also shown on Army flags.
Ivan Sache, 30 November 2000