This post I wrote about vexillology appeared on the University of Illinois' International and Area Studies blog on September 17, 2015:
In honor of Mozambique's 40 years since it gained independence from Portugal (June 25, 1975), here is its present national flag. It was first hoisted in 1983 after the fledgling nation had jointly flown both the flags of Portugal and FRELIMO (the Liberation Front of Mozambique, the leading independence party) in the interim since independence. The above flag is based on FRELIMO's own, used during the struggle for independence against not only Portugal but other independence movements, with the additions of the yellow star, book, hoe, and rifle to the red triangle.
Of the basic design, the green symbolizes the fertility of Mozambique's land; the white fimbriations (separating lines) for peace; black for the people and continent of Africa; yellow for the nation's mineral wealth; and red for the struggle for independence.
Where this flag gets particularly interesting is obviously in the red triangle at the hoist (left side): a black rifle - specifically an AK-47 - is crossed with a black hoe before a white open book, all before the yellow star typically associated with the socialism that FRELIMO espouses. Such a confluence of images is clearly a sign of the complex aspirations and concerns of the new nation. The book (education) and the hoe (agriculture) in particular seem almost at odds with the rifle (defense and vigilance), but within the context of a new nation-state forged from the downfall of fascist Portugal and even today at risk of internal conflict, the reasoning behind such multi-layered symbolism becomes clearer.
While several other nations' flags also depict weaponry of various kinds (Angola, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, etc.), Mozambique's flag has the rare distinction of being the only official national flag that features a firearm.
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