Last modified: 2004-12-29 by zeljko heimer
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by Zeljko Heimer
Flag adopted 27 April 1960, coat of arms adopted in April 1980.
A German colony at the end of the 19th century. British and French forces
invaded Togo on 12 August 1914 and the German administration surrendered on 26 August 1914.
Under joint military administration. In 1922 Togo was partitioned, the Western part or Togoland
was administered by Britain with Gold Coast, the East by France as Togo. In 1956 the East
became an autonomous republic as the British sector joined independent Ghana in 1957.
Independent since 27 April 1960.
Joan-Francés Blanc, 13 November 1996
When the League of Nations made the British sphere of influence (i.e. the British Togoland) a mandated territory in 1922, the northern section was administered as part of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, and the southern section as part of the Eastern Province of the Gold Coast Colony. The governor of the Gold Coast Colony was empowered to legislate for both sections.
When he decided to partake in the contest set up to choose a National Emblem for the [then] future Togolese Republic, Mr. Ahyi Paul, who was still a student in France at the time, did not know that he was to become part of the History of the Togolese Nation. This contest had been launched by the Olympio Government formed in the aftermath of the general elections [to the legislature] held on April 27, 1958.
According to the Consultative Commission for the study of projects for the National Emblem and Anthem of Togo, presided by Dr. Trenou, the Prize of the National Anthem will come to Mr. Ahyi Paul and to an another countryman whose trace has been lost since 1962, and who took part in the contest under the pseudonym of Johnson Jean. And by decision No. 31/MF/FE of the Minister of Finance, dated February 13, 1960, an award of 25,000 FCFA has been granted to both authors.
Such is the origin of the Togolese flag, the National Emblem, the meaning and beauty of which we are now going to discover.
Symbolism of its colours. Red: it is the symbol of the blood which was shed by Togolese people for Independence and of the blood which will be shed by the sons of the Nation in order to protect its integrity and sovereignty against all agressors. Today it ought to be understood as symbolizing of the martyrdom of our countrymen who died for Democracy and Legality, as is epitomized in young Tavio Amorin (1992) and many others. [The latter sentence, I think, must be a personal statement by the author.]
Green: by its freshness, green has been a symbol of hope through ages and civilizations. For a Togo rising from the ashes of colonization, green must convey hope for a better life, dawn of a new era. Today, this hope ought to be more alive than ever! For hope is a positive thought for the construction of the Nation. Green also is a symbol of nature, a symbol of Agriculture, which is basic for development. Like a young shoot, Togo, with its manifold possibilities and its irrepressible vitality, will bloom in full view of the world.
Yellow: it symbolizes the precious value of National Unity and also the maturity of Togolese people envisionning a common destiny. It is a symbol of our subsoil's wealth as well.
White: as in the depths of Africa, the colour white symbolizes Peace, Wisdom, Dignity, Light -- light of clear-sightedness and intelligence. Just as is shown in the solar spectrum, white light is the sum of all shades, and therefore a universe for all political colours and all hearts gathered in a common vigour in acting for Independence.
Let us now consider the five-pointed star:
First of all, it is the symbol of life. This life which is necessary for the development of each single being from the very beginning of his or her existence. So that the Togolese Nation may live forever, this star, through its reign -- the pentameter reign dear to Pythagoras -- will endow the Togolese with the life and strength necessary for their inner development and external blossoming. The white star flying out from the blood shed by our ancestors also symbolizes Liberty, which we gained together with Independence and must safeguard with Labour of our own hands in the service of the Motherland. Such is the meaning of our motto, "Travail, Liberté, Patrie" ("Labour, Liberty, Motherland"), in which the ordering of words is intentional.
Finally, let us consider the symbolism of the stripes and their distribution. There are five stripes. Just like the five fingers, the five stripes of the Togolese flag symbolize Action. Our determination to overcome every obstacle -- poverty, underdevelopment, neocolonialism, internal and tribal struggles -- must assert itself in everyday action. Alternating colours express the diversity of our peoples, whose harmony is only made possible through unity. Like the five fingers of one hand, the Togolese must draw strength for action from national unity and solidarity. This message is more topical than ever! [Another personal comment, I would say.]
As for the proportions of the emblem, Mr. Paul Ahyi has envisaged a "A rectangle of the golden section" worth 1.618 . As you can see, nothing has been left to chance!contributed by Thanh-Tâm Lê, 2 January 1999, translated from http://www.cosy.sbg.ac.at/~gjohnson/drapeau.html.
What is not mentioned above, is the symbolic meaning that is quoted probably most often - five stripes of the flags are said to represent the five regions of the country:
The regions are themselves divided in a total of 22 prefectures.
Ivan Sache, 21 May 2000
Regarding the flag ratio, the designers idea is refered in the
article above, as 1:1.618 (golden section). The sources are
not consistent about this - Smith 1982 have it as 3:5~ (that may be just
another way of designating the golden section), Crampton 1990 and some
others have it as 2:3, while yet others have pure 3:5. The latest sources
would be L'Album 1990 cor. 26 and Znamierowski 1999 both quoting 2:3.
The size of the star
is depicted differently ranging from about 1.5 width of one stripe to
over two widths. Reagrding colours, all sources seems to be consistent
in using "standard" red and green and "golden" yellow.
Zeljko Heimer 21 May 2000
by Zeljko Heimer