Guinea-Bissau is a West African nation that gained its independence from Portugal in 1973. Like all West African nations that were formed out of colonial dominions of European powers, its flag is tied up in its historical struggle for independence.
The first African nation to become independent of European control was Ghana. The people of Ghana chose a flag that represented both their nation and the aspirations of the African people as a whole. It featured three horizontal bands of red to symbolize the blood of those who fought for independence, gold to symbolize the warmth of the sun and the great natural wealth of Africa and green to symbolize its forests and nature. In the middle of Ghana’s flag was a black star to symbolize African unity.
After Ghana gained its independence, other African nations followed. Many of them adopted the three colors of Ghana’s national flag and the black star of African unity into their own flags as well. This symbolized the shared struggle for independence that the new African nations experienced.
As newly-independent African states adopted the red, gold and green colors, the independence movements in the parts of Africa still under European control also adopted them in order to symbolize their own desire for independence. One such movement was the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, abbreviated PAIGC. They fought to free the parts of West Africa controlled by Portugal in what is now Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.
The flag of PAIGC also incorporated the three Pan-African colors. A wide red line ran vertically on the left side of the flag, while two horizontal lines ran on the right side of the flag – the top one yellow and the bottom green. The black star sat in the middle of the red vertical line, with the abbreviation of the party’s name – PAIGC – below it.
PAIGC was trying to create one independent country out of Portugal’s West African colonies, but they did not succeed. Instead, two new nations were created – Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. Both continued to use the PAIGC organization flag with slight changes as their own national flag, though Cape Verde changed its own flag in 1992 to signify that it did not want to become a part of Guinea-Bissau. Guinea-Bissau, however, just removed the PAIGC initials from the PAIGC flag and continues to use it as the national flag to this day.