The flag of Mali is composed of three colors green, gold and red (adaptation of the French tricolor) which are formed as vertical brands with equal width – green positioned first, followed by gold and red. Adapting also some of the Pan-African colors, the flag of Mali was somewhat identical to the flag of Guinea only that the sequence of the colors is reversed. The current configuration of the flag was approved on March 1, 1961. The colors of Mali flag are associated with its vibrant history. They are interpreted as follows: the green stripe signifies hope, gold symbolizes purity and wealth and red indicates the force and the struggles of the heroes of independence.
The original flag of Mali was first raised on April 4, 1959 at the time of the creation of Mali Federation when French Sudan and Senegal joined forces. Mali Federation obtained its independence on June 20, 1960 and shortly thereafter Senegal, due to inherent discord, disaffiliated from the Federation, built a new nation and adopted its own flag.
The black kanaga has been the crowning feature of the flag of Mali together with the tricolors until the kanaga was abandoned on March 1, 1961. It was believed that the black kanaga symbol included in the first flag was the idea of Leopold Senghor, who came to be the later Senegal president. Up until now, the Mali flag retained the tricolors of the Pan-African colors. The black-colored kanaga, in stick-figure, is in the form of a human shape with arms extending upwards towards the sky. The figure is contrary to Muslim beliefs about making human images and was widely condemned. Later, mounting pressures from the Muslim front eventually caused its removal from the flag.
The first flag of Mali under the Mali Federation was a replication of the Ghana flag, except that the colors followed the designs of the French Tricolor. The colors were originally thought as the everlasting symbols of the harmony of African nations.