Boganda Day in the Central African Republic

March 29 is Boganda Day in the Central African Republic commemorating Barthélemy Boganda (4 April 1910 – 29 March 1959) the country’s leading nationalist politician.

Boganda was born into a family of subsistence farmers and was adopted and educated by Roman Catholic missionaries. In 1938, he was ordained as the first Roman Catholic priest from Oubangui-Chari, the French name for the region.

In 1946, he became the first Oubanguian elected to the French National Assembly, where he maintained a political platform against racism and colonial regime. He then returned to Oubangui-Chari to form a grassroots movement in opposition of French colonialism. The movement led to the 1949 foundation of the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa (MESAN.)

Boganda was killed in a plane crash on 29 March 1959. Experts found a trace of explosives in the plane’s wreckage, but revelation of this detail was withheld. Slightly more than one year later, Boganda’s dream was realized, when the Central African Republic attained formal independence from France.

His country’s first postage stamp, from 1959, features Boganda flanked by his design for the flag of the Central African Republic. He combined the red, white and blue of the French tricolor with the Pan-African colors; red, green and yellow.

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