Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Let's Talk About the Flag of Angola!

It has been a while since we had a post on that dorkiest of our core topics: flags. So I perked up the other day when I noticed that the Angolan dude with whom I am playing online chess was represented by an unfamiliar looking flag. I was naturally expecting the familiar old Angolan flag that we all know and love.




This banner, you'd have to admit, embodies some of the core flaggy virtues. It is graphically simple and direct yet highly distinctive. It is immediately recognizable, and visually arresting. But it turns out that there are people, including possibly some actual Angolans, who have some reservations about this flag. Their criticisms are at least three.

1) The sickle and hammer concept is a little out of fashion.

2) Using a machete as your national symbol in an African republic could be construed as kind of, um, insensitive.

3) Perhaps most importantly, the flag descends directly from the banner of the largest of the colonial-era resistance movements in Angola, which subsequently became the dominant political party. Thus it is perhaps not the best symbol for a nation giving multi-party democracy the old college try.

A suggested alternative, and the flag that is being used by chess.com, is this:



The design in the middle is apparently derived from some famous Angolan prehistoric cave paintings, thus representing a tie to the ancient past.

It seems that chess.com is jumping the gun somewhat, though. I checked out the website of the Angolan Embassy to the United States, and there is no reference to this new banner to be found. In fact, I'd have to say that the embassy is still rocking the old flag's symbolism mighty hard.

There is, unsurprisingly, precious little media coverage of this issue to be found. The best I can do is off the Wiki, which sayeth:

Many Angolans dislike the flag proposal because they feel it has no real meaning, as opposed to the current flag which clearly has historical associations. Others are of the opinion that the proposed flag cannot be seen as uniquely Angolan because it resembles other national flags including the flags of Costa Rica and North Korea.
What do YOU think, gentle readers? Allowing that the final decision is, of course, nobody's business but the Angolans'. But what should be the L&TM5K Community's amicus brief on the matter?

13 comments:

mrs.5000 said...

I would definitely use the old flag if I were marching to war, and the new flag if I were selling cookies.

KarmaSartre said...

I'm not seeing a sickle or a hammer in the old flag, but I don't mind people criticizing things that aren't there.

Libby said...

I don't love the new flag, but I kind of have this thing where I hate machetes. I'd like to see a third option - I mean I would if I were Angolan.

Critical Bill said...

I would fly the old flag at the Leni Reifenstahl retrospective and the new flag at the Keith Haring exhibition.

Rebel said...

Red white and blue have been done to death! Maybe if they used the old field, but the new sun-shiny symbol.

Michael5000 said...

@Mrs.5000: Mmm... cookies....

@Karma: Well, it's a deliberate gear 'n' machete riff on the hammer and sickle theme. Ya big literalist.

@Libby: Have you been in Angola? I seem to remember seeing that you've been in the general neighborhood...

@Critical Bill: Will there be cookies at the Haring show?

@Reb: Interesting point....

margaret said...

I kinda like the old flag; it's kick-ass in that representin' kind of way. But why the half a gear? I don't get it. The machete I associate with jungle-y places where you'd need one to do any pathfinding.

The new flag looks done by committee.

Michael5000 said...

The half a gear is supposed to gesture towards the sickle. The machete is supposed to be the African version of the hammer. The whole, then, is supposed to represent a groovy African industrial socialism. I actually think it's a pretty great logo, except that machetes have a kind of tainted reputation these days.

Cartophiliac said...

Very odd that your chess website would take it upon themselves to change the flag of Angola... I think both flags have their merit, but you have to go with the official one, no matter how much you might not like it...

MJ said...

The old one, definetely. More flags should have black.

Jenners said...

Seriously, my first thought on reading your title was "Well, I don't think I want to" but I was quite interested in this post. I guess I'm more of a dork than I thought.

Ted Kaye said...

Michael--

You might enjoy coming to a meeting of the Portland Flag Association.
E-mail me at kandsons@aol.com and I can connect you.

Ted Kaye (Compiler of "Good Flag, Bad Flag" and other vexing items)

Anonymous said...

I think as an Angolan Citizen, that angolan flag is too much similar to the flag of the party in power "MPLA", that has been forcing their permanence in power by durty means, including disgrace of Angolan people by diseducation program being held fo decades by abbandoning educational mannagement as well as the students, and other things that cannot expose due to the extention of text... Thks