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Republic of Congo - Historical Flags

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by bruce berry
Keywords: zaire | congo | kinshasa | free state | rcd | stars: 6 | stars: column | star: 5 points (yellow) |
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Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) 1963 - 1971

Congo-Kinshasa flag of 1963-1971 image by Željko Heimer, 26 Dec 2000

This is the flag of Congo-Kinshasa, in use from 01 July 1963 until 21 November 1971. In that year, the country was renamed Zaire and the flag was replaced with the Zairian flag, [which remained in use until 1997 — ed.].
Stuart Notholt 10 Mar 1996

On that 30th June 1963 Congo adopted a flag light blue flag was a red stripe with yellow fimbriations, running from the lower left corner to the upper right coner, and a big yellow five pointed star in the canton.
Jos Poels, 19 May 1997

Various sources give different position of the diagonal stripe. The one shown above seems to be the right one, even if such flags where yellow fimbriations (either of the two) touch the corners are reported, and probably were is use. [Ed.]

Following a preamble in the form of a statement by the President dated 08 June 1966 (which is concluded by "The present Law shall lay down all the details of the flag, and its dimensions, in a definitive manner (which is to be abided by), Ordonnance-loi No. 66-512 dated 19 September 1966 (published in Moniteur Congolais No. 22 of 1 December 1966) states that:

  • Single Article.
The flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a rectangular sky-blue flag, having a bright red stripe from the lower left corner to the upper right corner with a yellow-gold fimbriation and bearing a five-pointed star in the upper left corner.

The height (of the flag) is equal to two-thirds of (its) length (150cm x 225cm).
The diagonal stripe is 16cm wide; the width of the fimbriation is 5cm.
The star is contained within a circle of 65cms diameter, whose centre is at the meeting point of three lines bisecting the angles formed above the diagonal stripe.
All the above were translated from the originals by myself, however, on the evidence of two stamps issued in 1970 (as reproduced in Flagmaster 087 of Autumn 1997) either the last law was ineffective or was replaced by another, because the flags shown have much wider stripes and a smaller star.  More importantly, these stamps show the diagonal as being contained within the width of the flag
Christopher Southworth, 21 May 2004

As was already proven in several cases, stamps tend to be very untrustworthy evidence in vexillology. The stamps, especially those of Third World countires are made far away from home and the artists drawing them have little knowledge of the local reality. The errors even when found then tend to be ignored for the sake of the cost their correction would require, especially if the errors were not that large and would be spotted only be a very experienced eye :-)
Well, not saying that Chris is wrong here, but the great Smith shows the flag with the "usual" diagonal (p. 202). Also I would argue that if the legislator thought anything else then the "usual" diagonal, they would have said so.
Željko Heimer, 23 May 2004

Is it not more likely that the designer of the stamps would have given the flags a conventional diagonal in default of any concrete information to the contrary?
Pedersen (1970) shows the flag with an east-west diagonal, rather than with a conventional one, and (as did I) excludes the fimbriation (placing the lower band on the length).
Christopher Southworth, 23 May 2004

1966 flag, with the "usual" diagonal. For the time being I ignore the "unusual" diagonal Chris Southworth suggested, but I shall gladly redraw them all again if it turns out correct.
Željko Heimer, 23 May 2004

[1966 flag construction sheet] image by Željko Heimer, 23 May 2004

1966 flag construction details. The bi-sector lines of the upper blue triangle are just an other way of saying that the circle circumscribing the star is equidistant from all three triangle sides.
Željko Heimer, 23 May 2004

Republic of Congo (Congo-Léopoldville) 1960 - 1963

[Congo, Rep. Dem., 1960] image by Vincent Morley, 08 Jan 1997

In 1960, the Belgian Congo became independent. The flag was adapted by the addition of six gold stars in the hoist to represent the six provinces of the new state. The state was usually called Congo-Kinshasa (Kinshasa being the capital) to distinguish it from the former French Congo to the north, which was known as Congo-Brazzaville. After the failure of the Katanganese secession, more provinces were created. Rather than add these to the flag, US-style, a new flag was adopted in 1963.
Stuart Notholt, 10 Mar 1996

[Congo, Rep. Dem., 1960] image by Željko Heimer, 23 May 2004

Most sources show this flag as light blue, even if the dark blue variant as shown above are also reported it have also been use. The current flag, that is basically the same, has the blue shade defined by Pantone scale, and that definition makes it darker, even if today the light flags are to be seen occasionally, even in official events. [Abbreviated discussion from the mailing list. Ed.]

People's Republic of Congo 1964-1965, i.e. the rival government in Stanleyville continued to use this flag.

It is not correct to use the name Congo-Kinshasa for the periods 1960-1963 and 1963-1966 as you do on your page, because the country was then referred to as Congo-Léopoldville (not Congo-Kinshasa).
Léopoldville became Kinshasa only in 1966!
Serge Didelot, 21 Jan 2004

Léopoldville (or Leopoldstad in Dutch... but only French was official) was founded in 1881 and did not become capital of the Belgian Congo until 1926.
(See also Kinshasa city ).
I believe the name 'Léo-Kin' was used in colonial days, indicating a part of town which later gave its name to the whole.
Jan Mertens, 22 Jan 2004

There is a statement about the 1960 flag by the AFDL (Alliance des Forces Democratique Congolais pour la Liberation du Congo), Goma, 04 January 1997, which reads as follows:

Chapter XIII; The National Anthem and Emblems.
Considering that the political movement of the AFDL resulted in the Congolese democratic process being interrupted by the establishment of a neo-colonial regime in 1960, culminating in the imposition of a military dictatorship in 1965, the re-democratisation process is conceived by the AFDL as being the continuation of the work (of Congolese democracy) initiated by the independence of the Congo.  It is resolved by the AFDL (therefore) to adopt:

1.  The national anthem of independence is named "La Congolais"
2.. The flag of independence depicted as being blue (sky blue) with 6 Yellow stars vertically aligned on the extreme left part and a relatively large yellow star in the centre.
Christopher Southworth, 23 May 2004

Later usage

The Front National de la Liberation of Jean Tshombe is reported [in 1976] by some journalists traveling in the Shaba war zone, to have the old Congolese flag: in blue a red yellow fringed diagonal stripe; in the top left corner a yellow star.
Jarig Bakker, 05 Sep 1999, translating from Flaggenmitteilung [fnb] (report of L. Philippe, 1977.09.11), quoted by Jaume Ollé

The rebels of the RCD (Rassemblement Congolais pour la Déemocratie, Congolese Union for Democracy) have started using the 1964 flag as the flag of Congo.
Filip Van Laenen, 2 Jul 1999

For the flags of renamed Congo between 1971 and 1997 see Zaire. 

Democratic Republic of Congo (1997 - Feb 2006)

image by Vincent Morley, 08 Jan 1997

The construction details of the flag of DR Congo are :
  • proportions: 3/2
  • height of the big star = 3 times height of a small star
  • colours:
    • blue field: Pantone 286C
    • yellow stars: Pantone 109C

Armand Noel du Payrat, 09 Dec 1997

[Further construction details for the flag are given at cd_const. Ed.]

It may be approximated that the small stars each inscribed circles 1/7th of the hoist and with offset from upper and lower edge being haf of that size. The big star's circle is then 3/7ths. One also wonders where exactly lies the big star: in the center of the flag or in the center of the solid blue part of it? I'd say in the exact center of the flag, so slightly nearer to the small stars than to the fly edge.
António Martins, 27 Jan 2000

According to Radio Okapi, Kinshasa, 29 October 2004, the draft of the future Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo might include a reversion to the flag used from 1963 to 1971.
The first draft of the Constitution proposal shall be discussed in the Senate this Friday. The draft was presented to the media a few days ago but its contents has not yet been revealed. According to  Jean-Claude Ntumba Kamanga, the text of the Constitution shall prescribe the re-establishment of the 1964 flag, blue with a red diagonal stripe fimbriated yellow.
Source: DigitalCongo.
Ivan Sache, 2 Nov 2004

The Senators have been discussing again the Constitution of the future Third Republic since the end of February 2005. There is currently a big dispute between the Unitarists, promoting a united, decentralized country with its current ten provinces and Kinshasa as its capital city, and the Federalists from Lower-Congo and Katanga, who want to increase the number of the provinces to 21, 25 or 28. The Unitarists say that the Federalists' proposals are a threat for the national unity and a potential cause of implosion of the country.

However, it took only three hours to the Senators to agree on the first article of the draft of the Constitution, concerning the coat of arms and the motto  of the Republic. The new coat of arms would show a leopard's head flanked by a spear and an ivory point. The new motto would be "Justice Paix Travail" (Justice Peace Work). The new flag would be the flag used from 1964 to 1971. Therefore, the symbols used by Congo before Mobutu's rule would be reinstated.
Ivan Sache, 11 Mar 2005

The newspaper "Le Phare" (The Lighthouse, Kinshasa) gives in its issue dated 21 March 2005 the text of a pilot draft of the future Constitution of the country.

TITLE 1: General provisions

Chapter 1: Of the State and sovereignty

Section 1: Of the State

Article 1. The Democratic Republic of Congo is, within the borders fixed on 30 June 1960, a constitutional State, independent, indivisible, social, democratic and secular.
Its emblem shall be a sky blue flag charged with a yellow star in the upper left corner and crossed by a diagonal red stripe finely edged in yellow..
Its motto shall be «Justice -Paix - Travail» "Justice-Peace-Work". Its coat of arms shall be made of a leopard's head flanked with an ivory point on the left and with a lance on the right, the whole being supported by a stone.
Its anthem is «Debout, Congolais!» "Arise, Congolese". Its currency shall be the Congolese Franc. Its official language shall be French.
Its national languages shall be Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba.
The State shall promote them without discrimination.
The other languages of the country are part of the Congolese cultural heritage whose protection is provided by the State.
Ivan Sache, 24 Mar 2005

Democratic Republic of the Congo is voting for a new Constitution in a referendum, right now.

The text to vote includes a constitutional change of flag:
According with the released draft, the first article of the new Constitution will cover the flag, the coat of arms and other national symbols of the Republic:

The proposed Constitution is confirming the flag change as previously commented by Ivan Sache on FOTW. Its emblem is the sky-blue flag, decorated with a yellow star in the higher left corner and crossed diagonally by a red band fimbriated in yellow. (Therefore, the flag used by Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) in 1963-1966

Original wording in French:
La République Démocratique du Congo est, dans ses frontières du 30 juin 1960, un Etat de droit, indépendant, souverain, uni et indivisible, social, démocratique et laic. Son emblème est le drapeau bleu ciel, orné d’une étoile jaune dans le coin supérieur gauche et traversé en biais d’une bande rouge finement encadrée de jaune.
Sa devise est « Justice –Paix – Travail ».
Ses armoiries se composent d’une tête de léopard encadrée à gauche et, à droite, d’une pointe d’ivoire et d’une lance, le tout reposant sur une pierre.
Son hymne est le “Debout Congolais !”
Sa monnaie est « le Franc congolais »
Sa langue officielle est le français.
Ses langues nationales sont le kikongo, le lingala, le swahili et le tshiluba. L’Etat en assure la promotion sans discrimination.
Les autres langues du pays font partie du patrimoine culturel congolais dont l’Etat assure la protection.

Source: Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Santiago Tazón, 19 Dec 2005