Benin is a West African country that gained independence from France in 1960. It covers an area of about 44,310 square miles and has a population of approximately 10 million inhabitants. The Benin flag has a proportion of 2:3 and has two horizontal bands of red and yellow on the right side and a vertical green band on the hoist side. The flag does not contain any emblems.
History of the Flag of Benin
Like most West African countries, Benin was colonized by the French until 1960. During the colonial period, Benin was not allowed to have a national flag, and the French flag was widely used. This move was enforced by the colonialists to ensure that no nationalistic sentiments were stirred among the people. However, as the wave of independence swept across the African continent, the French succumbed to pressure and allowed for the designing of a flag in 1958. The new flag of Benin, which was yellow, red and green, was adopted and used until 1972, when a new regime came to power through a coup. In a bid to align itself with communist ideals, the regime designed a new flag that was green and contained a 5-pointed crimson star in the canton. However, the flag was never officially adopted by the law, and was only used as a substitute. In response to the fall of communism in 1990, the regime in Benin collapsed and a new age of democracy was ushered in, and the original yellow, red, and green flag was adopted once again and has been in use ever since.
The Significance of the Flag of Benin
The colors featured in Benin's flag have significant meaning. The yellow and green signify the savanna in the north and groves of palm that are situated in the southern part of Benin, respectively. The yellow also represents the vast wealth of the mostly equatorial nation that is blessed with an excellent climate and precious minerals. Additionally, yellow also symbolizes the Pan-Africanism movement of the Benin natives, which helped the country gain independence. The red color signifies the blood that was shed during the fight for Dahomey. On a continental level, the colors used on the flag are similar to those on the Ethiopian flag, which has been seen as a way of paying homage to the oldest African country and one of the two that was never colonized by the Europeans.
Uses of the Flag of Benin
The flag is a source of pride for the people of Benin, and it signifies their independence as a nation, as well as representing their self-rule, a proof of their sovereignty as a nation. The flag is displayed in all major public institutions like schools, the courts, and other notable landmarks, as well as during public holidays and celebratory events like the commemoration of the independence. The flag is also used as a form of identity during international events like the Olympics. Police forces wear uniforms that include a badge bearing the flag on it for official purposes.