The National Achievement

The Empire Centrafricain

The Presidential Flag

The National Assembly Emblem





From the 16th to 19th century, the people of this region were ravaged by slave traders. The Banda, Baya, Ngbandi, and Azande make up the largest ethnic groups.

The French occupied the region in 1894. As the colony of Ubangi-Shari, what is now the Central African Republic was united with Chad in 1905. In 1910 it was joined with Gabon and the Middle Congo to become French Equatorial Africa. After World War II a rebellion in 1946 forced the French to grant self-government. The people of Ubangi-Shari voted the territory to become an autonomous republic within the French Community  on 1 December 1958. On Aug. 13, 1960, President David Dacko proclaimed the republic's independence from France. Dacko moved the country politically into Beijing's orbit, but he was overthrown in a coup on Dec. 31, 1965, by Col. Jean-Bédel Bokassa, army chief of staff.

On Dec. 4, 1976, the Central African Republic became the Central African Empire. Marshal Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who had ruled the republic since he took power in 1965, was declared Emperor Bokassa I. Brutality and excess characterized his regime. He was overthrown in a coup on Sept. 20, 1979. Former president David Dacko returned to power and changed the country's name back to the Central African Republic.

For a brief history of the Republic see Juan Fandos to which I am indebted also for remarks on the flag and the achievement of the ECA.




A flag was adopted  on 1 December 1958 when the territory became an autonomous republic. It consists of  four horizontal stripes of blue, white, green and yellow and one red vertical stripe in the middle. In the left hand upper corner is a yellow five-pointed star.


The flag was designed by Barthélemy Boganda (1910-1959), a catholic priest who has played a major role in recent history of the republic. He founded the popular mass movement called the Mouvement d’Evolution Sociale d’Afrique Noire (MESAN). In 1958 he pleaded for a Greater Central African Republic, comprising all of Afrique Equatoriale Française. Finally he had to agree with a Central African Republic restricted to the single territory of Ubangi-Shari. He gave it the flag he had devised for the great united Central African Republic, blue, white, green and yellow with a horizontal red stripe and the star of the MESAN emblem in the upper left hand corner. This emblem deliberately mingled the tricolor of France with the three colours of the majority of the African states that already had achieved independence by that time.



Placed on a shield this flag became the coat of arms of the Republic until the adoption of a national achievement in 1963. This is blasoned:



Arms: Paly of four Azure, Argent, Vert and Or, a fess Gules, in dexter chief a five-pointed star Or.


The National Achievement

1958-1976 / 1979 - present


The achievement of the Republic was adopted by law Nr. 63 - 394 of the 17th of May 1963. It was:


Arms: Quarterly: 1 Vert, an elephants-head affronté Argent; 2. Argent, a tree Vert; 3. Or, three four-pointed stars sable, charged with a ball Argent, one and two; 4. Azure, a hand, pointing to the dexter chief, Sable. On an escutcheon Gules, a disc Argent with the map of Africa Sable, charged with a mullet Or.

Crest: A rising sun radiant Or, in base the date 1er DÉCEMBRE 1958, and the motto ZO KWE ZO in black lettering on white ribbon.

Order: The cross of  the “Ordre de la Mérite Centrafricain” (National Order of Merit)

Supporters: Two national flags being barry of blue, white, green and yellow, a red pale and in dexter chief a yellow star.

Motto: UNITÉ DIGNITÉ TRAVAIL (Unity, Dignity, Work) in black lettering on a white ribbon.


• The elephants-head and the tree are for the fauna and flora of the country. The black hand on the blue field is the old emblem of the movement for freedom MESAN. The shield of pretence symbolizes the African freedom. The crest is the sun of freedom and the motto above means Man is Man.[1]




The “Ordre de la Mérite Centrafricain was instituted on 20 June 1959 and is the highest award of the Central African Republic, awarded for special merit in the humanitarian, economic and social spheres.


The cross is a white Maltese cross with black edges and gilt ball-tipped finials, charged with a black medaillon with a golden five-pointed star and within a blue bordure. Between the arms is a green garland of laurel. On the back of the medallion is the date 1959 circumscribed with the words ‘MÉRITE CENTRAFRICAIN’



ð See illustration in the head of this essay.


The Empire Centrafricain



After the Central African Republic had become the Central African Empire, the achievement was slightly  changed in 1977. 

1. The crest was changed by removing the date and the adding of the Imperial eagle of Emperor Bokassa.

2 The imperial crown was placed above the crest

3 The inscription on the upper ribbon was changed into:  4 DÉCEMBRE 1976

4 The name of the Empire was inserted between the crown and the crest

5 The motto Zo A Yeke Zo was added to the motto Zo Kwe Zo and both placed along the flag staffs.



For the coronation of Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa I, a complete set of regalia was made by the french Maison Arthus-Bertrand, consisting of a crown, a sceptre, a sword  and a throne. On the crown, the sceptre and the throne there was the Imperial Symbol, consisting of a sun radiant charged with a sitting eagle displayed.

Also a collar of the Imperial Order of Central Africa was made.

As the crown is a part of the achievement of the ECA, I give here a picture of it:



Photo Arthus-Bertrand 


The crown is inspired by the crown of Napoleon. It consists of a diadem lined with ermine and consisting of interlacing golden garlands set with brilliants ad enclosing precious stones. In the middle is a big 82 carat diamond placed on a golden ribbon with the motto ZO KWE ZO - ZO AYEKE ZO and mounted by  he Imperial emblem  consisting if golden eagle sejant wings spread, and a rising sun charged with the imperial cypher “B”, all set with brilliants. From the diadem are eight hoops, rising from acanthus-leaves set with brilliants and precious stones, enclosing a red cap and surmounted by a globe showing the location of the Central African Empire in Africa and with the letters ECA on top. [2]



After the fall of Bokassa the achievement of 1963 was restored.


The Presidential Ensign


The presidential standard consists of a square cloth of the national colors, and with golden fringes. By Bokassa it was replaced by the Imperial standard of green cloth, charged in the middle with the imperial emblem of a golden sun radiant charged with an eagle wings spread.



After the fall of Bokassa the presidential standard was restored.


National Assembly Emblem



The emblem of the National Assembly of the Central African Republic consists of a target of a blue disc surrounded by three concentrc rings white, green and yellow, the yellow ring charged with the name of the service: ASSEMBLÉE NATIONALE • RÉPUBLIQUE CENTRAFRICAINE •. In the middle is a red pale, charged with a yellow five-pointed star. The target is surrounded by a garland of yellow leaves and supported by a white fasces-with-axe.



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© Hubert de Vries 2009-11-12


[1] ) Hesmer, K.-H.: Flaggen und Wappen der Welt. Bertelsmann Lexicon-Verlag. Gütersloh, 1992

[2] ) Chaffanjon, Arnaud: La Merveilleuse Histoire des Couronnes du Monde. 1980. Pp. 120-123.