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Cabinda (Angola)

Last modified: 2014-01-27 by bruce berry
Keywords: cabinda | flec | kongo | enclave | portuguese congo |
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History of Cabinda

Unlike most other African territories colonized by European countries, Cabinda came into Portuguese possession peacefully, because it was a weak kingdom surrounded by stronger ones and its king asked for Portuguese protection (this is said by Cabindas themselves, not only by Portuguese historians). Cabinda remained a territory under protection until the middle of the 20th century, when the Portuguese dictator Salazar decided to unite Cabinda and Angola to make one colony (he called it first 'Ultramarine'  Territories, and then 'Ultramarine'  provinces, like 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 is (or was) one. Salazar's policy was 'one nation in Europe and outside Europe', so the flag was just the Portuguese national flag (again reminds me of France).
Jorge Candeias, 11 August 1997

Does any country in the world recognize Cabinda as an independent nation? Wasn't it supposed to become one in 1975?
Thanh-Tâm Lê, 04 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 19th century or the early 20th century, after which the colonial administration integrated it in Angola. In 1974-75, when Portugal gave independence to its African colonies, it was done in a colony by colony basis. So, since Cabinda was already a part of Angola, there where never plans for a separate independence process for the territory.
Jorge Candeias, 04 March 1999

The Fischer Weltalmanach (1976) has a virtual independent Cabinda; Cabinda became important in the 1960's when the Golf Oil Co. discovered oil. The independence movements of Angola saw Cabinda always as an integral part of Angola, while Zaire and Congo (Brazzaville) assisted separatist movements; FLEC 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 proclaimed, which wanted elections, and independence on 11 November 1975, together with Angola.
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, 04 March 1999

Other flag of FLEC

[Angola - F.L.E.C.] image by Jorge Candeias, 09 Aug 1997, regiffed by Antonio Martins, 13 Feb 1999

I have a photograph taken from an article in a Portuguese magazine of a member of a FLEC guerilla group, 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 as the one in the flag. The flag is a horizontal tricolor 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, 09 Aug 1997

Yesterday I saw on TV a man unfolding a Cabinda flag. It was red-yellow-blue, horizontal with the old symbol in the center. Exactly as the flag I reported in 1997, only with a lighter shade of blue and a more "standard" proportion, seemingly 2:3. And then held it as the other man in the photo I reported in 1997 did, obviously to show it to the camera.
Jorge Candeias, 14 Mar 2001

A guy from one of the FLECs (I think the FAC but I'm not sure) in Cabinda was interviewed by telephone by one of the Portuguese TV channels, and stated clearly "Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda". The fact that the black yellow and blue flag isn't to be seen outside some web pages, that the people in the ground fly only one of the two flags of the liberation movements and talk about "Enclave" and not "Estado" and that there are reports of contradicting information and declarations between people inside and outside Cabinda, all talking in the name of FLEC (or one of it's factions), lead me to the assumption that even within the movements there are major divisions and that nothing we can put on the website based on just the talk of one "representative" of that part of the world can be taken as certain.

This "enclave" and not "estado" thing can also be connected with a change in strategy by the independentists. They are trying to involve Portugal in their fight with Angola, arguing that Cabinda isn't a part of Angola but still a Portuguese protectorate, since the treaty of Simulambuco was not revoked to this day. Therefore, they say, the Angolan army should withdraw from Cabinda, the Portuguese presence should be reinstated in the enclave and negotiations should begin with the Portuguese government in order to achieve full independence, eventually delayed for a couple of years until the Angolans "get comfortable" with the situation, so to speak. To accomplish that they kidnap Portuguese citizens. This is possibly why they ceased to talk about a state (if they ever talked about it), presumably independent, getting (back?) to the "enclave status".
FAC doesn't change: "Forças Armadas de Cabinda" - Cabinda Armed Forces.
Jorge Candeias, 05 Apr 2001

Photos of FLEC flag

[Photo of FLEC flag][Jorge's FLEC flag] images sent by Jaume Ollé and Jorge Candeias, 05 Apr 2001,

Photographic evidence show that the red is in upper part and that Jorge Candeias is absolutely right. I believe that flag was seen and reported. Because star in the flag was upside down it was assumed that flag was seen upside down (but now we know that this is wrong). Then Flag Bulletin reported the flag upside down.
Jaume Ollé, 5 Apr 2001

When it was a question of only one photo and one Coat of Arms which might have been based on that photo, it did not seem unreasonable to speculate that the flag *might* have been upside down. But when the same pattern is repeated several times, and no contrary usage has been found, it seems to leave little ground for doubt. The second photo clearly shows the star "inverted" (by our standards), and the photo found by Jaume and the website pointed to by Jarig clearly show that the red/yellow/blue is in use.

The only question remaining is one asked a number of times already- did some other factions ever use a blue/yellow/red flag and/or a Coat of Arms with an upright star? The only citation of primary evidence I know of on that question is Stuart Notholt's 1996 report, where he referred to a flag having the Coat of Arms with an "upright" star and said he had seen that design on FLEC literature.
Ned Smith, 6 Apr 2001

On a photo with flags of UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation) is the FLEC-flag, as reported by Jorge and Jaume, proving them right.
Jens Pattke and Ned Smith, 15 Aug 2002

Coat of Arms of the "Cabinda Republic"

[Angola - F.L.E.C.] image by Jorge Candeias, 20 August 1998

This is the Coat of Arms of the "Cabinda Republic".
Jorge Candeias, 20 August 1998


[FLEC-FAC flag] image by Jarig Bakker, 04 Apr 2001

This is the flag of "Forças Armadas de Cabinda", who have proclaimed a "Republic of Cabinda" on this site.
Chris Kretowicz, 04 Apr 2001