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Cabinda (Angola)

Last modified: 2000-01-28 by ole andersen
Keywords: angola | cabinda | flec | simulambuco monument | kongo | enclave | portuguese congo |
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[Cabindese flag]      [detail of the central emblem]

by Joan-Frances Blanc 28 April 1998
detail of the central emblem
by Joan-Frances Blanc 28 April 1998

See also:

Discussion of the flag

Last Saturday I was waiting for my wife near a Paris marketplace when I spotted a flag sticker on a car. Horizontal light blue, yellow, black with a rather complicated symbol centered on the yellow part.

And the word "Cabinda". I did a drawing of the symbol I'll try to computerise tomorrow. I was still waiting (my wife was trying hard to find a cheaper cassava...) when three ladies came to the car. I asked them about that flag and I was given the address and phone of an itinerant ambassador in Europe of the exile government of the Republic of Cabinda.

So I'll try this week to get more information.

Just a reminder: the Portuguese Congo colony was situated between the French Congo (now Republic of the Congo) and the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). In 1920, it was administratively joined to the Portuguese Angola.

During the 50s, as Angola became a "province" of Portugal, people from former Portuguese Congo, now known as Cabinda, created their own liberation movements.

The issue is that Cabinda has huge oil reserves, now exploited by the american company Chevron. Angola won't let go such a source of revenue...

Joan-Frances Blanc, 27 April 1998

Did they tell you which of the Cabinda groups they belonged? It seems that each group has it's own version of the flag. The one I posted last year is one of them, I saw another version from Jaume, another on the website and now this one. It would be nice if we knew which is used by which group to clear up this mess...
Jorge Candeias, 28 April 1998
The detail of the flag is a representation of a "padrao", a column of stone, carved in the upper segment with the portuguese "quinas" and topped by the cross of Christ, that the portuguese sailors used to carry around to leave at the lands they claimed for Portugal. There are hundreds of these monuments all over the place, and may be one in Cabinda as well.
Jorge Candeias, 29 April 1998
Jorge Candeias also questioned the apparent difference in height/width ratio between the flag and the detail.

Last Friday I met people from Cabinda so I got the full stroy about Cabinda and its flag (almost)...

The present flag: Blue/Yellow/Black tricolour with Simulambuco monument
In February 1885 at Simulambuco was signed a treaty establishing Cabinda as a Portuguese protectorate.
A monument was built later, sort of a padroe but much higher (the Cabindese I met showed me a photograph).
The three arrows are not arrows, but spears, representing the three kingdoms of Kakongo, Loango and Ngoyo.
The three spears are actually in front of the Simulambuco monument.

Refondated F. L. E. C.
In 1996 a new FLEC was created, in the Netherlands. That FLEC replaced the word "Enclave" by the word "State" (Estado). Now the FLEC is the "Frente de Libertacao do Estado de Cabinda" (Liberation Front of the State of Cabinda).

Previous flag designs
The original FLEC (Liberation front of the enclave of Cabinda) was created in 1963 as a coalition of 3 movements - MLEC (Liberation movement of the enclave of C.), CAUNC (Action Commitee of National Cabindese Union) and ALLIAMA (National Alliance of the Mayombe - Mayombe is a mountain between the Cabinda and the republic of the Congo).

That movement adopted an horizontal tricolour blue-yellow-red.

Then a scission occurred and one of the new movements took these colours and added the symbol shown in the present FOTW-ws page about the Cabinda.

The Cabindese I met added that another movement has a white flag with some yellow, green and red devices on it, but were unable to describe it more accurately.

For them the blue-yellow-black flag is the "National" flag, while the other designs are those of political or military organisations.

Joan-Frances Blanc, 4 May 1998

The first flag was yellow with emblem and from the colors of the flag was created the flag Black-Yellow-Red.

Flaggenmitteilung 42 report a flag with three horizontal stripes: top and bottom are WHITE, and the central one is divised in three stripes of green, yellow and black. In the center of the flag a red ring (occuping all the central threestriped stripe and 1/3 of each one of the whites).

Jaume Ollé, 5 May 1998

Frente para a Libertacao do Enclave de Cabinda (FLEC)

[Angola - FLEC]
by Stuart Notholt - 1996-01-10

See also:

To the north of Angola proper is the enclave of Cabinda, which is rich in oil and therefore has considerable significance both to the Angolan government and the western oil companies who exploit it.
In 1963 a movement called the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) was formed to press for independence for this territory.
FLEC was largely inert during the war against the Portuguese and languished afterwards, although UNITA staged some attacks against oil installations.
FLEC was reformed in 1984 and began operations against the MPLA regime.
It is currently (January 1996) in negotiation with the government. FLEC has had its own factional problems and there is (or was) also an organization calling itself 'UNALEC' (presumably, the National Union for the Liberation of the Enclave in Cabinda). Whether this was a split from FLEC, a UNITA front, or merely another name for FLEC, is not clear.
Another organization is the Cabinda Democratic Front.
A flag for FLEC has been reported by our old friend _Flags of Aspirant Peoples_. It is shown as being a light blue over yellow over red tricolour. In the centre is a brown circle, containing a green triangle on which there is a white star.
I have little information regarding the accuracy or symbolism of this flag, although I have seen the triangle/circle device, in black and white, on FLEC literature, so I believe this part at least to be accurate.
Stuart Notholt - 1996-01-10

Flag of FLEC

[Angola - F.L.E.C.]
by Jorge Candeias, 9 August 1997

I have a photography taken from an article in a Portuguese magazine of a member of FLEC guerilla group (one of it's factions, actually. There are 3 of them) showing a flag to the photographer. The flag is clearly visible and held correctly, since in the same article was published the coat of arms of the so-called Republic of Cabinda and it is in the same position with the one in the flag.

The flag is a horizontal tricolour of red, yellow, dark blue. At the center there is a black circle that occupies only the yellow strip. Inside the circle there is a green triangle and an inverted white 5-pointed star over the triangle.
Both the triangle and the star touch the circle.

Jorge Candeias - 9 August 1997

Unlike most other african territories colonized by european countries, Cabinda came to Portuguese possession peacefully, because it was a weak kingdom surrounded by stronger ones and it's king asked for Portuguese protection (this is said by cabindas themselves, not only by Portuguese historians). Cabinda remained as a territory under protection until the middle of our century, when our dictator, Salazar, decided to unite Cabinda and Angola to make one colony (he called it first 'Ultramarine' Territories, and then 'Ultramarine' provinces, very alike today's French policy).

So, apart from oil-greed, Cabinda's fight for self-determination has some historical basis.

As far as flags are concerned, I don't think there was one. Salazar's policy was 'one nation in Europe and outside Europe', so the flag was just one, the Portuguese national flag (again reminds me of France). So, I don't know (and I would like to) what is the origin of Cabinda's flag(s) and colours.

Jorge Candeias, 11 August 1997

Flag of FLEC

[Angola - F.L.E.C.]
by Dieter Linde, 11 May 1998

On the flag wall chart "Flags of Aspirant Peoples" (edited by The Flag Society of Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, and The Flag Research Center, Winchester, MA, in 1994) you will find as number 4 the flag for the "Cabinda Enclave Liberation Front/FLEC".

Dieter Linde, 10 May 1998

Well, that makes four different versions of the FLEC flag I do know of, three of them (and all different!) based of the Aspirant Peoples chart! (see

I hope that after the recent info posted by Joan France`s some clarification will be made on this subject: The Cabinda "national" flag, the old FLEC flag, the new FLEC flag, flags of the other movements, etc.

Antonio Martins, 11 May 1998

The fact is that there are and where several different groups in Cabinda fighting the Angolan rule in the exclave (enclave?), and it seems to me that each of the groups chose it's own version of the flag.

Jorge Candeias, 24 July 1998

[Angola - F.L.E.C.]
by Jorge Candeias, 20 August 1998
Back when I first posted this flag, I mentioned that in the same article there was a black and white drawing of the COA of the "Cabinda Republic", and I promised to draw it and post it. Well, it's better late than never. I do not have any certainties about the colours I used. Since the drawing was in black and white (literally: no shades of grey), I guessed the colours from the rendition of the COA that appears in the flag, so there may be some gross errors there. However, the proportions and relative placement of the different components of the COA are accurate.

Jorge Candeias, 20 August 1998

History of Cabinda

Does any country in the world recognize Cabinda as an independent nation? Wasn't it supposed to become one in 1975?
Thanh-Tâm Lê, 4 March 1999

First question: I don't know, but I don't think so.
Second question: No. Cabinda was a separate portuguese protectorate until either the late XIX century or the early XX century, after which the colonial administration integrated it in Angola. Naturally, the locals weren't heard about it. In 1974-75 when Portugal gave the independence to it's african colonies, it was done in a colony per colony basis, including Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (that had a common nationalist party (and guerrilla) for both - PAIGC, operating mainly in Guinea, but with a leadership composed mainly of cape-verdeans. A loose confederation was formed between the two countries after the independence. It didn't last long, though). So, since Cabinda was already a part of Angola, there where never plans for a separate independence process for the territory.
Jorge Candeias, 4 March 1999

The Fischer Weltalmanach (1976) has a virtual independent Cabinda; Cabinda became important in the '60's, when the Golf Oil Co. dicovered oil. The independance movements of Angola saw Cabinda always as an integral part of Angola, while Zaire and the PR Congo (Brazzav.) assisted separatist tendencies; FLEC (Frente de Liberac,ao de Cabinda) had its main seat in Kinshasa till 1975. In July 1975 a provisional revolutionary government (president: Luis Ranque Franque, president of FLEC, prime minister: Francisco Xavier Lubota) was proclamed, which wanted elections, and independence on 11.11.1975, together with Angola.
The Fischer Weltalmanach (1977) has (p. 701): The struggle for independence in Cabinda came to an end when the MPLA occupied it. Since 1976 Cabinda is part of Angola.
(p. 691): The exclave Cabinda was declared independent by the FLEC on 1 Augustus 1975, but fell into the hands of the MPLA.
The Fischer Weltalmanach (1978) mentions a new FLEC-provisional government under Henrique Thiago in Sanda-Massala.
After that it stayed Angolan, as far as I know.
Jarig Bakker, 4 March 1999

This [the 1977 entry, ed.] is very innacurate. See my previous message on the subject.
Jorge Candeias, 4 March 1999