Gold dust, the lush green of the rain forest, the blood of those fighting for independence and an icon linked to a short-lived shipping line are the images evoked by the national flag of Ghana. Ghana was only the second country after Ethiopia to make use of the Pan-African colors in the flag.
The Ghanaian flag was in use between 1957 and 1962 and was revived in 1966. It uses a 2:3 proportion and was designed by Theodosia Okoh. The flag has three horizontal bars – red, gold and green – with a black five-pointed star in the center of the gold bar. The red represents the blood spilled in the fight for independence from Great Britain. The gold color represents Ghana’s gold resources. The green stands for the nation’s natural resources, such as the lush rainforests. The black star stands for emancipation and is linked to the flag of the Black Star shipping line, founded by Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey. Garvey used the shipping line from 1919 to 1922 to foster trade to black-owned businesses in the U.S., West Indies and Africa and to assist Westerners who wished to return to Africa.
Variations of the national flag appeared from 1952 to 1966 with two or three black stars when Ghana joined the Union of African States with Guinea and, later, Mali. From 1962 to 1966, Ghana’s national flag replaced the gold color with white. The gold color was returned in 1966 when the Union dissolved.
Prior to 1957, Ghana was a British colony known as the Gold Coast. The flag of the nation from 1877 to 1957 had the British Union Jack in the upper corner and a disk on the fly side. The disk was common to other British West African territories and had an elephant with upraised trunk standing before a palm tree between two green mountains. The Gold Coast flag was distinguished from the others by the initials “G.C.”
Another important flag associated with Ghana is that of the Ashanti (or Asante) people. Prior to the British arrival, much of this area was associated with the Ashanti Empire. The Ashanti still occupy the west-central part of Ghana. There are several flags associated with the Ashanti. Two popular Ashanti flags are one on a gold background with a red porcupine with gold quills and one with gold, black and green horizontal stripes with the Golden Stool or Divine Throne represented in the center of the black stripe.