The Kenyan flag was adopted in December of 1963 and is comprised of a tri-color design. The top stripe is black, the middle stripe is red and the bottom stripe is green. There are thin bands of white that separate the larger three stripes. In the center of the red stripe is a depiction of a Maasai shield, backed by two crossed spears. The flag was inspired by that of the Kenya African National Union, a regime that ruled for 40 years after the nation declared independence from British colonialism.
The symbolism of the Kenyan flag reflects the country’s hard history and hope for the future. The black stripe on the top of the flag represents the indigenous black population of Kenya. The red stands for all the blood that was shed as the country struggled for freedom from oppression under British rule. The green represents the country’s natural wealth and gorgeous landscape. The white stripes are a nod to the country’s commitments to peace, unity and honesty.
The flag was obviously inspired by that of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, which was founded in 1920 and concerned itself with lifting up and conserving indigenous African people. For this reason, the Kenyan flag bears a striking resemblance to the flags of South Sudan, Malawi and Saint Kitts and Nevis. This Pan-African theme can also be noted in more subtle ways in flags throughout Africa.
There are several variants of the Kenya flag, mostly used by the Kenyan armed forces to denote their branch of military service. The Kenyan Navy and Air Force simple shrink the flag into the upper-left corner and place the military brand in the empty field remaining, while the Flag of Kenya Defence Forces introduces a new color scheme and a detailed design representing the Republic of Kenya, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. There is also a special flag configuration used solely as a Presidential Standard of the Navy. Finally, Nairobi County has its own flag as well. Nairobi, the capital and most populous city in Kenya, flies a flag of yellow and green squares with a circle of blue and white waves in the center. The Kenya flag is flown to the right of the country’s flag on government buildings.