From the 16th to 19th
century, the people of this region were ravaged by slave traders. The Banda,
Baya, Ngbandi, and Azande make up the largest ethnic groups.
The French occupied
the region in 1894. As the colony of Ubangi-Shari, what is now the Central
African Republic was united with Chad in 1905. In 1910 it was joined with
Gabon and the Middle Congo to become French Equatorial Africa. After World
War II a rebellion in 1946 forced the French to grant self-government. The people of Ubangi-Shari voted the territory
to become an autonomous republic within the French Community on 1
December 1958. On Aug. 13, 1960, President David Dacko
proclaimed the republic's independence from France. Dacko moved the country
politically into Beijing's orbit, but he was overthrown in a coup on Dec. 31,
1965, by Col. Jean-Bédel Bokassa, army chief of staff.
On Dec. 4, 1976, the
Central African Republic became the Central African Empire. Marshal
Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who had ruled the republic since he took power in 1965,
was declared Emperor Bokassa I. Brutality and excess characterized his
regime. He was overthrown in a coup on Sept. 20, 1979. Former president David
Dacko returned to power and changed the country's name back to the Central
For a brief history
of the Republic see Juan
Fandos to which I am indebted also for remarks on the flag and the
achievement of the ECA.
A flag was adopted on 1 December 1958 when the territory became an autonomous republic. It consists of four horizontal stripes of blue, white, green and yellow and one red vertical stripe in the middle. In the left hand upper corner is a yellow five-pointed star.
The flag was designed by Barthélemy Boganda (1910-1959), a catholic priest who has played a major role in recent history of the republic. He founded the popular mass movement called the Mouvement d’Evolution Sociale d’Afrique Noire (MESAN). In 1958 he pleaded for a Greater Central African Republic, comprising all of Afrique Equatoriale Française. Finally he had to agree with a Central African Republic restricted to the single territory of Ubangi-Shari. He gave it the flag he had devised for the great united Central African Republic, blue, white, green and yellow with a horizontal red stripe and the star of the MESAN emblem in the upper left hand corner. This emblem deliberately mingled the tricolor of France with the three colours of the majority of the African states that already had achieved independence by that time.
Placed on a shield this flag became the coat of arms of the Republic until the adoption of a national achievement in 1963. This is blasoned:
Arms: Paly of four Azure, Argent, Vert and Or, a fess Gules, in dexter chief a five-pointed star Or.
1958-1976 / 1979 - present
achievement of the Republic was adopted by law Nr. 63 - 394 of the 17th of
May 1963. It was:
Arms: Quarterly: 1 Vert, an
elephants-head affronté Argent; 2. Argent, a tree Vert; 3. Or, three
four-pointed stars sable, charged with a ball Argent, one and two; 4. Azure,
a hand, pointing to the dexter chief, Sable. On an escutcheon Gules, a disc
Argent with the map of Africa Sable, charged with a mullet Or.
Crest: A rising sun radiant Or,
in base the date 1er DÉCEMBRE 1958, and the motto ZO KWE ZO in black lettering on
Order: The cross of the “Ordre de la Mérite
(National Order of Merit)
Supporters: Two national flags being
barry of blue, white, green and yellow, a red pale and in dexter chief a
DIGNITÉ TRAVAIL (Unity, Dignity, Work) in black lettering on a white ribbon.
The elephants-head and the tree are for the fauna and flora of the country.
The black hand on the blue field is the old emblem of the movement for
freedom MESAN. The shield of pretence symbolizes the African freedom. The
crest is the sun of freedom and the motto above means Man is Man.
ð See illustration in the head of this essay.
the Central African Republic had become the Central African Empire, the achievement was slightly changed in 1977.
The crest was changed by removing the date and the adding of the Imperial
eagle of Emperor Bokassa.
The imperial crown was placed above the crest
The inscription on the upper ribbon was changed into: 4 DÉCEMBRE 1976
The name of the Empire was inserted between the crown and the crest
The motto Zo A Yeke Zo was added to the motto Zo Kwe Zo and
both placed along the flag staffs.
the coronation of Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa I, a complete set of regalia was
made by the french Maison Arthus-Bertrand, consisting of a crown, a sceptre,
a sword and a throne. On the crown,
the sceptre and the throne there was the Imperial Symbol, consisting of a sun
radiant charged with a sitting eagle displayed.
a collar of the Imperial Order of Central Africa was made.
the crown is a part of the achievement of the ECA, I give here a picture of
After the fall of Bokassa the achievement
of 1963 was restored.
The presidential standard consists of a square cloth of the national colors, and with golden fringes. By Bokassa it was replaced by the Imperial standard of green cloth, charged in the middle with the imperial emblem of a golden sun radiant charged with an eagle wings spread.
After the fall of Bokassa the presidential standard was restored.
The emblem of the National Assembly of the Central African Republic consists of a target of a blue disc surrounded by three concentrc rings white, green and yellow, the yellow ring charged with the name of the service: ASSEMBLÉE NATIONALE • RÉPUBLIQUE CENTRAFRICAINE •. In the middle is a red pale, charged with a yellow five-pointed star. The target is surrounded by a garland of yellow leaves and supported by a white fasces-with-axe.
© Hubert de Vries 2009-11-12