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Colonial Mozambique

(Portuguese East Africa)

Last modified: 2017-11-13 by bruce berry
Keywords: colonial flag | kionga triangle |
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Proposed Colonial Flag (1967)

 image by António Martíns-Tuválkin, 01 July 2016 

The Portuguese colonies were regarded as integral parts of Portugal and did not have flags of their own.  However, there were flags for the Portuguese governors and Governors-General of the overseas provinces. There was a project to give the Portuguese colonies/overseas provinces distinctive flags, but these were never adopted. The pattern for these flags was a Portuguese flag with the shield of the coat of arms of the territory in the lower fly, as shown above. These coats of arms were already in existence, and the shields of all consisted of two sub-shields, dexter representing the motherland, sinister the territory, and the base the oceans between them. The sub-shield of Mozambique was silver with seven green arrows pointing downwards, tied together with a red ribbon.
Mark Sensen, 30 July 1996

image by António Martíns-Tuválkin, 01 July 2016

The heraldist F. P. de Almeida Langhans published on p. 67 of his Armorial do Ultramar Português (Lisbon, 1965) [lgh55] a general model for the overseas "provinces" flags.   The was the Portuguese national flag defaced with the shield of the lesser arms of each province centered in the lower fly quarter of the red field. This proposal was approved in 1967, but never came into effect. The colonial arms, decreed on 08 June 1935, had a shield of the same pattern, tierced in mantel, the dexter silver, five escutcheons in saltire, each charged with five bezants, gold, in cross; and the point silver, five waves green. The remaining sinister mantel had some local emblem - Mozambique: White, with a green bundle of arrows tied together with a red ribbon (standing for St. Sebastian as the first colony was founded on São Sebastião).
Antonio Martins, 08 July 1997, corrected 14 September 1997

It's interesting that the colonial flags of Mozambique relate only to the Overseas Province of Mozambique, not to the previous dispensation under the Kingdom of Portugal and the first three decades of the Portuguese Republic, where what we today call Mozambique was a grouping of separate colonies, labeled for convenience Portuguese East Africa.

These colonies were, from south to north, Lourenço Marques, Inhambane, Manhica eSofala (administered by the Companhia de Moçambique), Quelimane and Tete (these last two were initially separate, then combined as Zambezia), Moçambique and Niassa (Niassa administered by the Companhia de Niassa).

All of them issued stamps (the chartered companies issued stamps for the two under company administration), but I haven't yet seen any indication of flags.
Mike Oettle, 20 Dec 2001

Colonialists flag

image by António Martins, 21 Feb 2016

In the personal collection of Dr. Whitney Smith [smi76], there is a "colonial" Mozambican flag which was made and hoisted in July 1974 by some Portuguese colonialists fleeing Lourenço Marques (now called Maputo).  The flag is based on a Portuguese flag design (2:3) with a background of green and  red charged with the colonial greater arms: a round point shield (7:8) tierced in mantel, dexter silver, five blue eschuteons arranged in cross, each charged with five silver bezants saltire (old Portuguese arms), sinister silver, seven green arrows pointing down tied with a red tie, point silver, four waves of green (Portuguese traditional heraldic sea). The shield rests on a large golden armillary sphere (in this flag 1/2 of the hoist, as in the Portuguese national flag) in an "art nouveau" perspective less style, crowned with a five tower golden castle wall, with a blue armillary sphere on each tower and one silver shield charged with an Order of Christ cross on each of the four crenel gaps between the towers. Under all this a white scroll where the usual black sans serif inscription "PROVÍN. PORTUGUESA DE MOÇAMBIQUE" (before 1951: "COLÓNIA PORTUGUESA DE MOÇAMBIQUE") was substituted to a plain "MOÇAMBIQUE".
António Martins, 21 Sep 1997

Companies in Mozambique

The Companhia do Niassa and the Companhia de Moçambique are of relatively modern origin - 1891 and 1888 respectively. They were two of the concession companies to which the Lisbon Government devolved the administration of Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). Companhia do Niassa covered the north of the territory; Companhia de Moçambique the central Manica and Sofala regions and a third company, the Zambezi Company, the Zambezi basin. The concession companies were wound down, I believe, during the early period of Salazar's rule in the late 1920s.
Unfortunately I know nothing about any flags these companies may have used!
Stuart Notholt, 30 May 1997

This is correct concerning the Niassa Company, which handed its territory (north of the River Lurio) back to the Portuguese Government on 27 October 1929. However, the Mozambique Company continued until the Second World War, handing its territory (between the Save and Zambezi rivers) back in January 1942. Unfortunately I also lack information on flag use, although there might just be something I can glean (not in full colour, unfortunately) from my Mozambique Company stamps. I'll have another look. I have no information on the Zambezi Company, as this company did not issue its own stamps - Portugal issued stamps for the colonies of Quelimane and Tete, and later merged them as Zambezia.
Mike Oettle, 04 Jan 2002

I do not know exactly when these companies ceased operating, but I've heard that it is related to the 1918 issue of the newly Portuguese ruled territory of the so called "Triangle of Rovuma", transferred from German East Africa to Portuguese (Mozambique) after World War I.
António Martins, 31 May 1997

Military Command Banner of Arms

[Old Military Banner] image by António Martins, 21 April 1998 

Portuguese Provincial Military Command (1961-1975)

image by António Martíns-Tuválkin, 01 July 2016

The Regimental Colour of the Mozambique Provincial Military Command was a regular Portuguese military colour with the usual addition of a white scroll under the emblem containing the name of the unit. In this case, it reads «Comando Militar da Província de Moçambique», in embroidered capitals, the middle word "da" in half size.

The Provincial Military Command was in existence between 1961 until Mozambique's independence in June1975 and its main purpose was to fight the colonial war.
António Martins, 17 June 2009

Municipal flags

In old issues of the Diário da República one can probably locate accurate information about flags and Coat of Arms of towns and municipalities. All legislation has to be published there, and I believe that it has been the case at least since the revolution of 1910.  About 20 Coats of Arms can be seen on Ralf Hartemink's site.
Jorge Candeias, 22 Feb 2005

Kionga triangle

The present day Mozambican 'Rovuma Triangle' was until 1918 part of German East Africa.
Santiago Dotor, 21 Oct 2002

At first I couldn't find it because the Stielers Handatlas of 1912 had the Rovuma river as northern border of Mozambique. In Andrees Handatlas of 1910 the Rovuma triangle is clearly visible, named "Kionga", a district known as the Kionga Triangle, northeast Mozambique, south of the Rovuma river, 1,000 km2.  Kionga town had (1910) 4.000 inhabitants; formerly a part of German East Africa; occupied in 1916 by Portuguese troops, transferred to Portugal 1919. I suppose only national flags of Germany and Portugal were used in those days (although special postage stamps were issued in 1916).
Jarig Bakker, 22 Oct 2002

Flags on a 1576 map

This is from a small reproduction of an old map made by FernãoVaz Dourado in 1576. This map reproduces the southeastern coastal areas of Africa, from southern Namibia to the easternmost tip of Somalia. It contains 9 reproductions of flags over those "city drawings" so common in the maps of that time. I drew the flags to the best of my eye resolution (the reproduction is small and some details are not obvious). I named the flags with the abbreviation of the contemporary state that occupies the respective territory. When there is more than one flag in a particular country, I added N for north, S for south and W for west. Even so, some places are dubious. The filenames and descriptions are: (Images: see this page):

 - Placed in northern Mozambique is a square flag, yellow bordered in red, with five blue bezants disposed in saltire in the yellow square. This is evidently a Portuguese flag, but one I never saw before.
 - Placed in southern Mozambique is another square flag, yellow bordered in blue, with a red templar cross in the yellow square. This is another Portuguese flag unknown to me.
Jorge Candeias, 15 Aug 1999