Monday, December 19, 2005

Shooting down the flag

mozambique flag
The BBC reports today: Mozambique's parliament has rejected an opposition attempt to get the image of a gun removed from the national flag.

The gun represents the AK47 that was used in the wars of independence against the Portuguese after which a Marxist regime was installed. That was dumped years ago and the 1990 constitution brought in a multi-party, market-orientated government. But, to this day, relics of the communist past remain which are quite quaint in their way. Many of the main streets in Maputo, the capital, are named after leading lights in communist history, many of them almost forgotten: Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, Engels, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il Sung, Julius Nyerere, Salvadore Allende, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Ze Dong, etc.

As far as I know, there is no talk of renaming these streets. Keeping streets named after African liberation heroes (eg Julius Nyerere) may make sense but the foreign communist names make no sense at all.

And thus endeth today's history and geography lesson.

Update: More Information about the Mozambiquan flag
Since one of my readers has requested more information about the flag, I found some more information here:

Mozambique Flag Meaning:
The red stripe represents Mozambique's struggle for independence. The green symbolizes the land. The black represents the African continent and yellow stands for the mineral wealth of the nation. The yellow star represents the socialist beliefs of the country. The book represents education and the hoe represents the peasants and agriculture. The rifle represents the nation's determination to defend its freedom.

Mozambique Flag History:
The Mozambique flag was adopted on May 1, 1983. Mozambique gained independence from Portugal on June 25, 1975. The current Mozambique flag is based on the flag of Frelimo (the Mozambique Liberation Front), the organization which led the campaign for independence. The Frelimo flag was virtually the same as the current Mozambique flag but without the emblem on it. It was used briefly as the transitional flag when the leader of Frelimo became the first president of an independent Mozambique in 1975.

Interesting Mozambique Flag Facts:
The flag of Mozambique is the only one in the world to feature a rifle, as it has an AK47 on it.

A contest was held to design a new flag of Mozambique in September 1999 and 119 entries were received. A winner was picked, but a new Mozambique flag has never materialized.

In another article found here, there is mention of the fact that some people wanted to change the yellow star owing to its association with communism. "If Mozambique's single star were to symbolize Communism, Joaquim Chissano, the nation's president for 19 years, said, the Stars and Stripes would place the United States among the world's most leftist nations." He seems to ignore the fact that in flag symbolism, there is a vast difference between stars of different colours! Anyhow, it seems that the star is no longer an issue so it seems bound to remain in the new flag whenever it finally gets unveiled.


Anonymous Paul said...

What no Leon Trotsky Boulevard?

8:17 pm  
Blogger Frog with a Blog said...

Lovely little geography lesson! I went to Maputo a few years ago, very shortly though, but remember being struck by the Portuguese signs everywhere in the middle of an African culture. A few years later, I went to Macao and found it equally weird to see Portuguese and Chinese street signs side by side. Amazing to see how the now very discreet Portuguese could settle the in the most unexpected corners of the world. Regarding the weapons on the flag, why would they remove them from their national symbol when we frogs still sing gore stuff in our national anthem?: "the bloody flag is raised, may our ennemy's blood quench the thirst of our soldiers".
PS: pics of mozambique you could show us?


8:34 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

There could well be...don't remember. Could check by doing a google...let me do just that.

Didn't find anything but there must be because I discovered that he wrote his History of the Russian Revolution in exile in Turkey and Mozambique

8:36 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

mickelino: there are a number of Moz pics scattered about in previous posts....good excuse for you to go digging around my archives! :-)

More will come at a later stage, hoever.


8:39 pm  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Years ago, we had Korean neighbours who worshipped Kim Il Sung. I told the little boy that even Kim Il Sung had to die. He stopped talking to me for days. hee hee.

2:26 am  
Blogger Rob7534 said...

Don't stop there Nomad, tell us what the elements of the flag symbolize!

The colors, that other thing besides the gun, and that open book!

8:36 am  
Blogger kyknoord said...

The BBC report also says that the ruling party has not accepted any of the 169 alternative flags proposed. Picky, picky.

9:38 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Rob: Your wish has been answered - I've given you all the information you asked for. Apart from the very obvious symbolism of the gun and star, the other elements still smack heavily of socialism/communism (not that they are interchangeable by any means!).

I found it interesting to read that the Moz flag is the only one in the world to depict a gun.

kyknoord: Very picky! What makes you think they'd rather stick with what they have got? Speaking of which, do you remember how the new S A flag was only going to be a temporary one before something final was decided upon? It seems that there is no longer talk about changing it anymore. Personally, I've grown rather attached to the new one and would rather not have to get used to another.

9:54 am  

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