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UNITA (Angola)

União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola

Last modified: 2009-03-23 by bruce berry
Keywords: angola | unita | black rooster |
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[Angola - UNITA] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 16 Jun 2002 See also:

União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA)

UNITA, the third of the three guerrilla movements which fought the Portuguese (and each other) for control of Angola was formed in 1966 when its leader, Jonas Savimbi, broke with the FNLA. UNITA is an 'Africanist' party emphasizing ethnic and rural rights in distinction to the urbanized Marxism of the ruling MPLA. UNITA was also 'Maoist' - not in the sense that it followed Chinese Communism but that Savimbi learned from Mao how to fight a successful guerrilla war. The CIA regarded UNITA as the most radical and the weakest of the three guerrilla movements. This proved to be a grave underestimate. Over 20 years after its 'defeat' in 1975-76, UNITA was still in the field and by 1989 had, with intermittent South African and US support, fought a civil war with up to 40,000 Cuban troops plus the MPLA army in Angola. After losing the 1992 elections, UNITA took up arms again. However, it is involved in negotiations with the MPLA government on the future of the country and an uneasy ceasefire appears to be holding.

The flag of UNITA is a red over green over red tri-bar. On the green stripe is a 16-pointed rising sun (Angola had 16 provinces at independence; the subsequent creation of two more has not been recognized in the UNITA flag). Crowning the dawn is a black cockerel, placed to the left of the sun. The top red stripe stands for the revolution against Portugal, the bottom one for the 'second liberation struggle' - against the Cubans who back the ruling MPLA militarily. (Since the UNITA flag was used before 1975, this symbolism must have been added later). The green stands for hope, victory, and agriculture. The flag is popular amongst Angolan emigrés and was frequently seen in Lisbon during the 1992 Angolan election period.
Stuart Notholt,
10 Jan 1996

 [UNITA emblem] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 16 Jun 2002

The União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), has fought a bloody civil war against the recognized government of MPLA since 1975. UNITA is older than that, of course, and its flag was already flown before independence. With peace slowly returning to Angola, it may be also the source of co-inspiration for a still unheard of but anyway predictable, new flag.
António Martins, 30 June 1997

The colours of the UNITA flag are: green Pantone 340 (CMYK 100-0-69-15, RGB 0-136-94, browser safe RGB 0-153-102)
Stuart Notholt,10 Jan 1996

The party with the second highest number of seats in the Angolan Parliament is UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola, that is, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), with 77 MPs. The flag is well-known: a horizontal triband of red, green and red with a rising sun and a black cock in the central band. A website can be found at this address. (link is dead, Ed.).

Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, was recently killed during a skirmish with Angolan government troops. The reporter of "France-Inter" said that Savimbi's nickname was "the Black Rooster". The flag of UNITA includes a black rooster. This is probably not a coincidence, but I am wondering if Savimbi was nicknamed after the flag or if the flag was made "canting" by adding the leader's nickname.
Ivan Sache, 23 Feb 2002

That's a reporter's goof. Savimbi was never known as the black rooster, it was the *movement* he led that had that nickname. The origin is, naturally, its symbol, pre-eminently featured in the flag. Savimbi did have a nickname, though. Or a couple of them. His supporters called him "pai-velho", i.e., "old-father"; his opponents called him "bandit".
Jorge Candeias, 25 Feb 2002

UNITA - no Rooster variant

[UNITA roosterless flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 20 Apr 2005

On May 18, 2002, the Público newspaper issued its weekly literary supplement Mil Folhas (meaning "Thousand Leaves", just for the sake of completeness), which carried a critique to a book that analysed "the dark side of UNITA". Consequently, they decided to fill the front page of that supplement with the photo that shows a group of men flying a flag of UNITA that has no rooster. It is only charged with the sun, in a central position.

I have no idea of what could have brought this flag to life. The date is close to the death of UNITA's former leader and founder, Jonas Savimbi, known locally as the "Galo Negro" ("Black Rooster"), and that can be the explanation of part of it, but I really don't know - I'm just speculating.
Jorge Candeias, 20 Apr 2005