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Gabon: Pre-Independence Flags

République Gabonaise

Last modified: 2006-08-26 by phil nelson
Keywords: gabon | equator |
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[Flag of Gabon]
by Mark Sensen

See also:

Pre-independence flags

French colonial tricolor
[Pre-Independence Flag of Gabon] by Antonio Martins

During less than a year (29 June 1959 - 9 August 1960), Gabon had a somewhat different flag, according to Crampton's The World of Flags (1990) [cra90]. Instead of the current 3:4 horizontal tricolor green-yellow-blue, this pre-independence flag had a French tricolor in the canton and narrower yellow stripe (4 green, 1 yellow, 4 blue).

According to Eve Devereux' Identifying Flags [dev94], the French tricolour was superimposed on the green band.

Reported variant
[Pre-Independence Flag of Gabon, Possible Variant] by Antonio Martins

I've also seen a version with no tricolor in an Angolan newspaper of that time, a very sketchy black and white hand drawing with color hatch indications (it could be a mistake).

Still according to Devereux [dev94], the colours mean respectively the forest, the Equator line (which crosses the country) and the sea.
Antonio Martins, 30 May 1997

Reported variant
[Pre-Independence Flag of Gabon, Possible Variant]
by Mark Sensen

I've seen a picture [can't remember where] with the Tricolore also partly over the yellow stripe. Did anyone else?
Mark Sensen, 31 May 1997

I haven't. I remember us speculating on the list some time ago that the flag with 4:1:4 stripes, and French tricolour in canton 1:1:1:3 might be the origin of the unusual 3:4 proportions of the Gabonese flag. If so, thetricolour couldn't reach into the yellow. But, of course, I don't remember if anyone confirmed the speculation with some evidence.
Željko Heimer, 1 June 1997

I found this about the 1959-1960 Gabonese flag:

The country's original flag was selected in 1959; it's center yellow stripe was one-half its current width, and there was a French Tricolor in the canton.

But I've never actually seen it, neither live nor on a color plate!

Can anyone tell me if my interpretation is right ?
Pierre Gay, 17 September 1998

Like you, I lack any definite information about this, but I have tried to do some "vex-deduction". The current flag of Gabonese is exceptional in one particular element to all other flags of the region and time, and that is the ratio - 3:4, and I have tried to explain it exactly by using the former flag you mention.

One would expect a former French territory to use a 2:3 flag, but it is not so in Gabon. Flag books (Smith 1980 [snu80] for example) states that Gabon used the same flag with a thinner middle stripe (Smith does not say that it was half the current width!), and with the French flag in canton.

Trying to draw such a flag you would get something like this as most natural:

upper edge 2:2:2:6 blue-white-red-green
hoist side 4:1:4 blue-yellow-blue

That is, the French tricolour is 4:6 units in the above scheme (i.e. 2:3) You make the canton to be half the length of the flag, so the green part is 6 units long.

Adding the units you get ratio 9:12, i.e. 3:4.

When the Gabonese decided to remove the French Tricolour, they simply widened the yellow stripe to three equal stripes, but they didn't change the overall ratio (probably because none deemed it of importance?). If this scenario is right, then the old yellow stripe was not half the width of the current, but one third actually. Below is an image of my speculations. Maybe someone could confirm or deny my speculations about it.
Željko Heimer, 20 September 1998

Reported variant
[Pre-Independence Flag of Gabon] by Željko Heimer, 7 October 1996

Reported variant
[Pre-Independence Flag of Gabon] by Pierre Gay, 22 September 1998

"The blue and gold stripes emphasize that Gabon is a maritime nation through which the equator runs". Smith (1975) [smi75c]

The symbolism seems to me much less evident than in the case of Nauru, because of the wide use of horizontal equal tribands in national flags. We could also say: the blue and white bands emphasize that France is a maritime nation through which the Greenwich , sorry the Paris meridian runs
Ivan Sache, 10 May 1999

As far as I remember the pre-independence flag of Gabon was the same flag, but with a much narrower central stripe (and a French tricolour in the canton, of course). Sounds like this middle strip was the equator.
J.F. Blanc, 11 May 1999