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Republic of Benin, Bénin, République du Bénin

Last modified: 2008-10-11 by zeljko heimer
Keywords: benin | dahomey | africa | star | pan-african |
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[Benin flag] [National flag and ensign] 2:3
by Željko Heimer 4 March 2001
Flag adopted 16 November 1959, abandoned in 1975 and reintroduced 1 August 1990, coat of arms (re)adopted 1 August 1990.


History of the flag

Benin gained independance in 1960, as a Republic of Dahomey. Up to 1975 the flag was the same as the current one. The flag adopted by People's Republic of Benin in 1975 was based on a flag of marxist-leninist party that was red with green star, and the original flag was reintroduced in 1990.

We learn that the colours of the flag are explained in the national anthem: green recalls hope and revival, red the courage of ancestors and yellow incitates to preserve the country wealth. The flag of August 1960 (adopted on 16 November 1959, but hoisted for the first time on 1st August 1960) was reestablished during the National Conference of Active Forces of the Nation (19-28 February 1990).

Dorling-Kindersley Pocket Book only explains the colour as panafrican. Pedersen associates red to the soil, yellow to the savannas and green to palm trees. Smith agrees with Pedersen, except for the red symbolizing the blood of ancestors.

According to Album des Pavillons [pay00], the national flag is used as national ensign, too.

When Benin abandoned its socialist policies in 1990 and a multi-party democracy was established in 1991, together with the original flag, but kept the name Benin introduced in 1975 which was the name of the ancient African empire centered in that area.
Summary from contributions by Željko Heimer and John Andrew Lowe 30 November 1995, Nick Artimovich 5 June 1996, Ivan Sache 23 April 2000

Kingdom of Dahomey

[Flag of the Kingdom of Dahomey] by Jaume Ollé 12-SEP-1996

The king Béhanzin (king 1889-1892, born 1844, died 1906), succesor of the king Gle-Gle, had a flag (Ratio 43:59) with a light blue field. The shield is yellow with a dark grey shark, and white egg and tusks; green palm; light green snakes, and the ribbon white. Some inscriptions suggest manufacture by one of the many portuguese who had long had commercial relations along the coast. The french general Alfred Dodds captured the flags in the Dahomey royal Palace at Abomey on 18 November 1892. It was sent to the Musee de l'Arme in Paris, being trasferred in 1932 to the Musee Colonial (now the Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens). The flag is reported in the issue 145 of the Flag Bulletin. That museum has an engraving by Albert Vallon, showing a French mission being received by the king Ghezo (1818-1858), with a different flag, which suggests that each king may have had his own flag. That used by Ghezo is shown above.

The Kindom of Dahomey was declared a protected state, and reconstructed like "Kingdom of Abomey" on 20 January 1894. Ago Li Ago, brother of Béhanzin, was proclaimed king, with residency in Abomey City (Agbome), but the kingdom was suppresed for a Decret by the french governor (12 January 1900) and enclosed in the Dahomey colony.
jaume olle 12 September 1996

People's Republic of Benin

[People's Republic of Benin, 1975-1990] by Željko Heimer 4 March 2001

It is said that star represents "peoples unity, unity of all revolutionary forces in overwhelming of inner and outer enemy and making a new, revolutionar and socialist land of Benin".

This flag reversed the colours of the People's Revolutionary Party of Benin, which had a green star and red background.
Stuart Notholt

The national flag 1975-1990 was, as far as I am aware, never officially adopted, (meaning there was no law regarding it) and therefore the construction details (size and position of the star) were never determined either.
Željko Heimer 4 March 2001

People's Revolutionary Party of Benin

[People's Revolutionary Party of Benin] (1)
[People's Revolutionary Party of Benin] (2)
by Željko Heimer 4 March 2001

While Jaume Ollé states that the star should be in the center of the flag (2), other sources seems to imply that it was indeed in canton as (1) e.g. Smith [smi80], Crampton [cra90].
The flag of PRP may have been adopted earlier then 1975.
Editor 23 April 2000