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Casamance (Senegal)

Democratic Forces Movement of Casamance

Last modified: 2001-12-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: senegal | star (white) | pan-african | casamance | french west africa | portuguese colonies |
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Casamance is the SW part of Senegal (the bit located south of Gambia); it used to belong to Portuguese Guinea and some of the separatist claims are based on that fact. The main reason is the ethnical relatedness between the dominant groups of that area, Gambia and NW Bissau-Guinea, quite unrelated to the Wolof people, dominant in Senegal.

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[Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance flag] 1983 flag
by Jaume Ollé, 27 August 1999

[Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance flag] 1988 flag
by Jaume Ollé, 27 August 1999

From the Flag Report, 1 January 1997:

Information provided by Lucien Philippe.
The Democratic Forces Movement of Casamance ( "Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance" - MFDC) adopted a flag with pretensions of nationalism in May 1983. On 26 December 1982 had been hoisted in Zigunchor a white flag that substituted the Senegalese flag . Through such a white flag the demonstrators meant that the people of Casamance were not wishing the war to be released and obtained the independence in peace.
Lucien Philippe obtained this information from the Mr. Mamadou Nkruma Heal, attached general secretary of the MFDC, representative of the movement in Europe, 28 February 1997 (information related to the flag of the MFDC) and 17 March 1997 (referring information to the white flag).

A possible rendition of this white flag follows (shown in Minahan 1996):

[Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance flag]  by Ivan Sache, 22 February 2001

From Franciae Vexilla #7/53, November 1997, notes by L. Philippe and M. Corbic.

Casamance is the main rice-producing area of Senegal. Diola is the dominant ethnic group in Lower-Casamance whereas Upper-Casamance is mainly inhabited by Muslim Wolofs who emigrated from Sahel. This emigration caused troubles with local populations, partly animist or Christian.
Initially colonized by Portugal, Lower-Casamance is separated from Portuguese Guinea and sold to France on 12 May 1886. Occupation of the area began in 1888, and was followed by "pacification" of local kingdoms, achieved in 1903. Soldiers from Casamance were incorporated in the "tirailleurs sénégalais" and participated to the two World Wars with France. Among them was Victor Dialla, who was the first African to receive a degree in literature in 1930. In 1947, he founded the MFDC (Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de la Casamance) to affirm the Casamance identity, and was murdered on 20 November 1948.
The movement had initially adopted a plain green flag, symbolizing agriculture and forest of Casamance, and a complicated emblem. [The article does not say clearly that the emblem was added to the flag.]
After a non-violent demonstration of 26 December 1982 which was violently repressed by Senegal, the movement has become clandestine and has got armed forces, the ATIKA. A white flag had been hoisted that day in Ziguinchor, not as the movement flag, but to show that people of Casamance wished to gain independence in a peaceful way.
The MFDC revendicates the independence of the state of Cassamoukou ("paddy country", deformed by the Portuguese as "Casamance"). In May 1983 during the beginning of the uprising, the MFDC used a vertically divided yellow-green-red with a white star in middle stripe. Yellow stands for wealth, green for forest and agriculture, red for blood, and the white star for the Casamance people.
The yellow stripe was considered as confusing, a new flag was designed by Mamadou Sane' (now deputy-secretary of the MFDC and representing it in Europe) in March 1986 when he was in jail. The yellow stripe was replaced by a white stripe, standing for peace, justice, freedom and unity. The design was presented to priest Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, general-secretary of the movement, and officially adopted on 5 February 1988.
Ivan Sache, 16 Oct 1999

28 February 1997 Mamadou Nkruma Sane communicated to Lucien Philippe that the flag of MDFC is the one adopted in May 1983.
Jaume Ollé, 10 Nov 1999