The national flag of Angola was adopted in November, 1975. The flag’s background consists of a divided field with black under red. The colors are said to represent “Freedom or Death!” In the middle of the flag are a machete, a five-pointed star and part of a cog wheel. They are arranged in a way that is reminiscent of the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union. All three items are gold which is said to represent Angola’s mineral wealth.
As with some other African flags, the national flag is a modified version of the ruling party’s flag. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) had begun life in 1956 as a guerrilla movement that sought to secure Angola’s independence from Portugal. In 1975, it succeeded and became Angola’s ruling party. It established a Marxist government.
The MPLA’s party flag has a black and red field with a gold star in the center. At the time it came to power, it was being sponsored by the Soviet Union, and its flag’s design reflected that. The red part of the field stood for socialism while the black part represented Africa. In the national flag, the cog wheel represented industry and workers while the machete stood for agriculture, peasants and the struggle for independence. The star stood for progress and international solidarity. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the government of Angola moved away from Marxism, and the red part of the field was said to represent the blood shed during the struggle for independence.
In 1996, a new national flag was proposed. It combined elements from the MPLA’s party flag and that of their rivals, UNITA. The resulting flag consisted of three horizontal bars with red on top, green in the middle and black on the bottom. The green bar, which came from the UNITA flag, represented agriculture, hope and victory. The flag was not adopted.
In 2003, another new and supposedly more “optimistic” flag was proposed. It had a horizontally striped red, white and blue background with a gold sun in the middle. The sun was supposed to evoke the cave paintings in the Tchitundo-Hulu cave and represented Angola’s history and cultural identity. The blue stripes represented solidarity, justice and freedom, and the white stripes represented peace and unity. The red bar stood for heroism, sacrifice and determination. The new flag was not adopted.