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Last modified: 2020-03-15 by ian macdonald
Keywords: mali | kanaga | pan-african | stick figure |
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[Mali 1961 flag]  2:3 | stripes 1+1+1 |
image by António Martins, 23 April 1999
Flag adopted 1 March 1961, coat of arms adopted 1 March 1961.

See also:

Meaning of the Flag

An inquiry to the Mali Embassy in Washington, D.C. elicited the response that the colours for the Mali Flag have the following meanings:
- Green: Nature/Agriculture
- Yellow: Wealth (Gold)
- Red: Sacrifice made by our forefathers for independence.
Ray Ferster, 1 November 2000

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be. For Mali: PMS 355 green, 109 yellow, 032 red. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012

History of the flag

The first flag of Mali was adopted on 4 April, 1959, when French Sudan and Senegal formed the Mali Federation. This federation became independent on 20 June, 1960. Senegal seceded on 22 August, 1960, and replaced the kanaga by a green star. Mali continued to use the tricolour with the kanaga, but abolished the black kanaga on 1 March, 1961, and has used the plain tricolour in pan-African colours since then.
Mark Sensen, 8 April 1996

From the website of the Presidency of the Republic of Mali (; translation to English by Ivan Sache, 31 August 2005, from the French text attributed to the Grand Chancellery of Mali):

National flag

"On 20 January 1961, four months after the official proclamation of the independence of the Republic of Mali on 22 September 1960, the Deputies adopted in a plenary session of the National Assembly the law #61-26 prescribing the national flag of Mali. This flag shall be made of three equal vertical green, gold and red stripes.
Initially, the flag of Mali as described in paragraph 5 of article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Mali, adopted on 22 September 1960, was made of three equal vertical green, gold and red stripes; the golden stripe was charged by the black ideogram of the Man with the arms raised to the sky. That first version of the national flag, embedded in the emotion caused by the proclamation of the national independence, was immediately adopted by people.
The law of 20 January 1961 prescribes the definitive version of the national flag of Mali. It is made of three green, gold and red stripes. The green colour of the first stripe means the hope, the greenery of the pastures and fields in Mali, the richness of its soil and of everything the soil can produce for the welfare of the Malian populations. Green also recalls the main agri-pastoral vocation of the country for development, modernization and integration for which no effort will be spared.
The golden colour of the second stripe shows the gold included in the underground of Mali, as well as other potential mining resources. Everybody remembers the fabulous travel of Kankou Moussa to Mecca. The golden colour therefore shows the awareness the Malians have of their heritage and they want to preserve at any price.
The red colours of the third vertical stripe is for the Malians, a remembrance, a meditation and an exhortation. The Malians shall remember the blood shaded by their own people for the defense of their homeland against the foreign occupation and the liberation of the homeland from the colonial yoke. The red of the national flag is for the Malians an exhortation to fight until the last drop of their blood for the preservation of the integrity of their soil, underground and artistic and cultural heritage so that they could exploit them for their unique benefits."

The flag in the Constitution

The Constitution of the Third Republic of Mali was promulgated by Decree #92-073 on 25 February 1992. The national symbols are addressed in Title II, article 25, as follows (quote from [vap00]):

Title II
The State and Sovereignty

Article 25
The national emblem is composed of three equal vertical bands of green, gold and red.
The motto of the Republic is "ONE PEOPLE - ONE GOAL - ONE FAITH".
A law shall determine the seal and arms of the Republic.
Ivan Sache, 31 August 2005

1959-1960 flag

[Mali 1959 flag]
image by Mark Sensen
     [Mali 1959 flag]
    image by Željko Heimer based on [zna99]

The 'kanaga' symbol was used on the first Mali flag, until it was abolished on 1 March, 1961. It is a black human-like image and was removed because of pressure from Muslims who do not approve of making images of the human shape.

Željko Heimer, 6 April 1996

It is said that the kanaga symbol was included in the Federation flag on initiative by Léopold Sédar Senghor, later president of Senegal (1960-1980).

Željko Heimer, 19 November 2000

Znamierowski shows the symbols with rounded edges while most other sources show the straight edged symbol, but with something as unregulated the 'kanaga' was, there is actually hard to talk about a right and wrong way of illustrating it.
edited from Martin Grieve, Christopher Southworth and Ivan Sache, 12 October 2003

French Sudan flag (1958)

[Mali (French Sudan) 1958 flag] image by Zeljo Heimer, 10 February 2005

The flag of autonomous Sudanese Republic (French Sudan) from 24 November 1958 to 4 April 1959 was the french tricolour with black kanaga. The proposal for including Kanaga was made by L. Sedar Senghor
edited from Mikhail Revnivtsev and Jaume Ollé, 10 February 2005

The flag in the national anthem

The Malian national anthem makes specific reference to the flag in its refrain:

Pour l'Afrique et pour toi Mali
Notre drapeau sera liberté
Pour l'Afrique et pour toi Mali
Notre combat sera unité
Ô Mali aujourd'hui
Ô Mali de demain
Les champs fleurissent d'espérance
Les coeurs vibrent de confiance.

My translation:

For Africa and for you, Mali
Our flag shall be liberty
For Africa and for you, Mali
Our fight shall be unity
O Mali today
O Mali tomorrow
The fields are blooming into hope
The hearts are vibrant with confidence.

Source: Mali Embassy in USA
Ivan Sache, 21 February 2001

Aircraft Marking

Roundel of green-yellow-red according to Album 2000. Cochrane and Elliot (1998) gives it as red-yellow-green roundel. Which of the two is right? Cochrane and Elliot (1998) mentioned that the fin striping (presumably same as the flag) was "recently" replaced with a circular device on the fin equal in design to the roundel (red-yellow-green).
Željko Heimer, 31 May 2002

The source for the Album 2000 report is a newspaper photograph, dated 1999.
Armand du Payrat
, 31 May 2002

I have a few books from the mid 80s with a/c markings. One shows Mali with the 'reverse' roundel the same as Album 2000. ( with the national flag as a fin flash ). Perhaps we can assume Cochrane and Elliot (1998) reversed its colors.
Dean McGee
, 1 June 2002

Presidential Sash

The Mali Presidential Sash can be seen in the following picture: (source: It is a plain green-yellow-red sash.
Esteban Rivera, 6 December 2013