THE HISTORY OF MOZAMBIQUE REACHES
BACK AT LEAST TO THE 15TH century but the eastcoast of the continent was exploited long before by
Arabs, Persians and Indians. Also some kingdoms had by then developed in the
the Mwanamutapa Kingdom
In the 1400s, the Mwanamutapa kingdom
(also spelled Momomutapa) was established by the Karanga branch of the Shona
people, in what is Zimbabwe today. It included Great Zimbabwe, believed to be
constructed in the 11th century. The kingdom traded, via the port
of Sofala (which did not belong to it) with Swahili traders; among the export
products were gold and ivory. About 1490, the kingdom split in two,
Mwanamutapa in the north and Changamire, with Great Zimbabwe, in the south.
In the early 1500s the Portuguese
established themselves along the coast of modern Mozambique and along the
banks of the lower Zambezi river, determined to monopolize Mwanamutapa's
trade. Two Portuguese attempts to conquer Mwanamutapa in 1569-1572 and 1574
failed. Early in the 17th century the Portuguese managed to gain
influence at the Mwanamutapa court; the kingdom again and again suffered from
civil strife. The Kingdom continued to exist until into the late 19th
century, by then only a shadow of itself, frequently targetted by slave
The king of Mwanamutapa is mentioned by the arab writer Leo Africanus (ca
1490- na 1550) in his “History of Africa”. In an english translation of 1600
of this work, the coat of arms of the
king (in the time of Leo Africanus Kakuyo Komunyaka (1494–c. 1530)) is described in the following way:
“This king in his scutcheon or
coate of armes hath two signes of maiestie. One is a certaine little spade
with a handle of iuorie. The other are two small dartes. By the spade he
exhortheth his subiects to husbandrie, that they may not through sloth and
negligence let the earth lie vntilled, and so for want be constrained to play
the theeues. The one of his darts betokeneth, that he will be a seuere
punisher of malefactors; & the other, that he will by valour & force
of armes resist all forren inuasions.” 
Forts on Mozambique's coast
of Portuguese India, 1505-1752
Vasco da Gama was the first Portuguese who sailed to
Mozambique. The country was characterized in the Lusiads as “a cruel country
the treachery and villainy of whose peoples will not be unknown to you.”  Nevertheless the Portuguese occupied the
city of Mozambique in 1502 and established a factory in Sofala. In order to
exclude Swahili traders from the Mwanamutapa gold trade, the Portuguese
established trading posts at Sena and Tete on the Zambezi river (1531) and in
Portugal’s interest in the East African coast lay
in the domination of Mwanamutapa’s foreign trade. Portugal’s trading posts
were administered from Goa (India) until 1752.
According to a manuscript from the beginning of
the 16th century, the coat of arms of the Portuguese empire was: parted per
pale Gules and Argent, an armillary-sphere Or, the globe Azure. (ill.)  This coat of arms literally means: The
armed forces of the (Portuguese) empire.
In the 17th century, maybe after the regaining of
independence of Portugal in 1640, a new symbol for the Portuguese empire
occurs on coins. It consists of the cross of the Order of Christ, charged
with an armillary-sphere. This symbol literally means: the (christian)
government of the (Portuguese) Empire
Homem, on his map of the Indian Ocean (1555) gives for the port of Sofala a
flag: Azure, five besants in saltire Argent.(ill.) This is a symbol that is
specific for the Mozambiquan settlements in the 16th century because in this
time different flags were flown in Mombasa and Oman.
five besants in saltire Argent is the coat of arms of Bartolomeu Dias who
sailed the African coast up to Cape of Good Hope and Algoa-Bay in 1486-’88.
His coat of arms was: Azure, five besants in saltire Argent. Crest: On a
barred helmet to the dexter, lambrequined Azure and Argent, two staffs each
charged with a besant from the arms in saltire.
The flag with the five besants was not
flown by the Portuguese caravels of the 15th an 16th
century and can thus be considered as a military flag, maybe of Bartolomeu
Dias as an admiral of the Portuguese fleet. No good information however could
be obtained about the coat of arms of this great discoverer.
of Portuguese East Africa, 1752-1880
Royal achievement as used in East Africa, 18th-19th c.
Reconstruction after the
sculpture in the museum at the Fort in Maputo.
In 1752, Portugal's possessions on East Africa's
coast were separated from Portuguese India and placed under a captain
general, residing in the city of Mozambique (which in time gave it's name to
the country). The Portuguese began to trade slaves (mainly destined to the
French Mascarene islands, Mauritius and Reunion). The Portuguese also
introduced corn and the cashew nut, both from the Americas, to Mozambique.
With the loss of Brazil in 1822 and slave trade
being outlawed, Portugal's politicians focussed more on their African
possessions. The concept of a Portuguese Empire in Africa was formulated in
the 1830es and some steps were undertaken to penetrate the country, but the
Portuguese hold was not felt much beyond the coast and along the banks of the
lower Zambezi river.
In this time the coat of arms of the king of
Portugal was used. A sculpture of the crowned royal arms is above the main
entrance of the fort of San Sebastião on the Ilha do Mozambique. Inside the
fort there are the remains of the royal arms above the entry of the vestry of
the chapel of Our Lady Baluarte.
A sculpture of this crowned royal
arms, placed on the cross of the Order of Christ, is in the museum at the
fort of Maputo (Lourenço Marques). This achievement is supposed to mean: The
Royal (Portuguese) Government of East Africa.
of Portuguese East Africa, 1880-1918
Stamps of the Companhia de
Mozambique: 1894-1902; 1918-1925, the crown omitted.
Stamp of Nyassa, 1901. After
1911 the crown on the arms of Portugal omitted.
During the Scramble for Africa in the 1880es, Portugal
had to cede much of the territory it claimed in East Africa to Cecil Rhodes'
British South Africa Company respectively British East Africa Company. But
Portugal's claim over Mozambique, at least for the time being, was
internationally recognized by the Berlin Conference of 1885.
Mozambique's infrastructure was developed, much
with British assistance, for British Central Africa/Nyassaland and Northern
Rhodesia both depended on railroads and roads connecting these areas with the
ports of Beira and Mozambique.
The colony of Mozambique was not yet centralized,
communication between the various Portuguese outposts difficult. The
individual provinces (Inhambane 1895-1914, Lourenço Marques 1895-1920,
Quelimane 1914-1922, Tete (1913-1914), Zambezia (1894-1917) issued their own
stamps, as did the Mozambique Company (1892-1942) and the Nyassa Company (1897-1929).
On the stamps of the Mozambique Company the
achievement of the Company is displayed. It consists of the arms of Portugal,
crowned with the Portuguese Royal crown and supported by two elephants. After
the establishment of the Republic of Portugal in 1910 the crown was omitted.
In 1907, the capital was moved from Mozambique to
Lourenço Marques (modern Maputo) on the Delagoa Bay. In 1912 slave trade, for
long Mozambique's most important trade, was outlawed
During the prewar years, Germany was interested in
extending its colonial possessions. In 1898 Britain and Germany signed a
first agreement concerning Portugal's colonies in Africa. The idea was to partition
it into British and German spheres of influence. In 1911 negotiations on the
partition were renewed, and concluded in 1913. As the British side insisted
on the agreement to be published, and the Germans refused to do so, the
agreement was never implemented. The Licango River would have formed the
border between both spheres of interest.
In 1914 World War I broke out. Portugal remained
neutral. When German East Africa became untenable in 1916, German commander
Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck switched to a guerilla strategy. Disregarding
Portuguese neutrality, his Askari troops at times took up positions in
Northern Mozambique. Portugal found itself at war with Germany. In the peace
treaty of Versailles, the small border town of Kionga, formerly German East Africa,
was awarded to the Portuguese and incorporated into Mozambique.
After the Republic of Portugal was proclaimed the
5th of October 1910, the crown was omitted and replaced by the
armillary sphere that had been the symbol of the Portuguese empire for more
than four hundred years by then.
of Mozambique, 1939-1974
In 1941 the charter of the Mozambique Company
expired and was not renewed, the Portuguese government taking over the
administration of the company's territories. From January 1st 1943, Mozambique
was divided in 4 provinces - Sul do Save (Lourenço Marques and Inhambane),
Manica and Sofala (ex-Mozambique Co. territory), Zambezia (Quelimane, Tete)
and Niassa. World War II had
limited impact on Mozambique, as Portugal stayed neutral and no Axis-held
territory was close.
While Britain undertook steps to prepare it's
colonies for independence, such as granting African representation in
parliament and universal adult suffrage, Portugal, continuously under the
rightist Salazar regime, had no intention to grant independence to it's
colonies. Formally, Mozambique had been proclaimed an overseas province in
By 1964, Madagascar (1960), Tanzania (1961/64),
Malawi and Zambia (1964) had declared independence and achieved black
majority rule. The country's neighbours to the southwest and south, Rhodesia
and South Africa, had white minority regimes which excluded the black
majority from political participation and which supported Portuguese colonial
The Frelimo was founded, an organization of independence
fighters with a socialist agenda. It was supported by the Soviet Union and
it's eastern European allies. The Frelimo began a guerilla war which lasted
In 1972, Mozambique was declared a self-governing
province. In 1974 Portugal's ageing rightist government was toppled by the Revolução
dos Cravos (Pink Revolution); in Mozambique, a cease-fire was arranged
and preparations were made to release the country into independence.
of Arms of Mozambique
In 1933 a
coat of arms for the colony was designed.  They were:
Arms of Moçambique, 1933
Arms: Per saltire Gules and
Argent, an armilary sphere Or; within a bordure Or charged wit five quinas escutcheons alternating with
five crosses of the Order of Christ.
Crown: A portuguese mural
crown of five towers Or
Somewhat later a provisional coat of arms was used
for the Colony consisting of a tierced shield with the Portuguese quinas
in the dexter part and green waves of the sea in the lower part. In the
sinister part was a golden armillary-sphere. In 1935-1936 coins were struck
with this coat of arms.
This coat of arms was changed the 8th
of May 1935. The former shield was
maintained but in the sinister quarter was placed a new symbol. It is a bunle
of seven arrows, points downwards, Vert, tied with a ribbon Gules. The arrows
are the symbol of St. Sebastian who was martyred with arrows This symbol was
adopted for the whole of Mozambique because the first capital of the
Portuguese possessions in Eastern Africa was San Sebastião de Mozambique,
named after king Sebastião (1557-1578).
The coat of arms of Mozambique adopted 8.V.1935
The arms were placed on a golden armillary-sphere
crowned with a golden mural crown of five towers, each charged with a red
armillary-sphere, on its embattlements the arms of the Order of Christ:
Argent, the cross of the Order Gules, voided Argent. Underneath the armillary-sphere is a ribbon
with the name of the colony: colonia portuguesa de moçambique. In 1951 the name on the ribbon was changed
into: provin. portuguesa
de moçambique. 
Mozambique, since 1975.
In 1975, Mozambique became independent. A
socialist peoples republic, the repÚblica popular de moçambique, was proclaimed. The capital Lourenço Marques was
Many of the white settlers left the country.
Mozambique permitted the ZANU, ZAPU (Rhodesian independence fighters) and the
ANC (South African independence fighters) to establish bases on it’s
territory. South Africa retaliated by providing assistance to the Renamo, a
guerilla force fighting the Frelimo government.
The civil war in Mozambique escalated, at times
limiting the government influence to the capital city of Maputo. It caused
In 1984, Mozambique normalized it’s relations to
South Africa. Many Moçambicans worked in South Africa’s gold mines. The
country also began to reprivatize many industries which had been nationalized
in the 1970es. In 1992, the civil war was ended by an accord between Frelimo
and Renamo; multiparty democracy was introduced and free elections were held.
A new coat of arms or state-emblem
was adopted by constitution of 25th of June 1975 art. 69 in which
it is stipulated that the symbol will bear a book, charged with an adze and a
rifle in saltire. These charges symbolize education, defense and vigilance,
the peasants and the agricultural
production. In the lower part
is a map of Mozambique, washed by the waves of the Indian Ocean and in
chief is a sun in splendour, symbolizing the Revolution and the new life
All this is placed on a
golden cog-wheel, the symbol of the working class and the industry.
The star on the place of the
crest symbolizes the international spririt of the Moçambiquan revolution.
The garland consists of a sugar-cane and a stalk of maize,
symbolizing the agricultural wealth of the country. On the junction is a red
ribbon with the name of the country: repÚblica
popular de moçambique
lettering on a ribbon Gules.
Constitution of 1975
The Constitution of 25th
of June 1975 reads:
Symbols of the Peoples Republic of Mozambique
The symbols of the Peoples
Republic of Mozambique are the flag, the arms of state and the national
The national flag has five colors
of which four are separated by white stripes diagonally placed and coming
from the left-hand upper corner. The colors, in order from top to bottom
· Green: the
fertility of the Mozambiquan soil.
· Red: the
centuries old revolt against colonialism, the armed struggle against
colonialism and the Revolution.
· Black: the
the wealth of the surface
· The white
emphasises the righteousness of the struggle for peace of the Mozambiquan
people against the establishment.
In the left-hand upper
corner is an emblem consisting of a cog-wheel (the symbol of the
working-class and industry), charged with a book (the symbol of education),
and a rifle and an adze in saltire, symbolizing the defence and vigilance of
the peasant-class and the agricultural revolution.
In the upper right-hand part
of the cog-wheel is a red five-pointed star, symbolizing the international
spirit of the Mozambiquan people.
The coat of arms of the
People’s Republic of Mozambique shows on its most important place a book, a
rifle and an adze, placed on the map of Mozambique and represent education,
defence and vigilance, the peasant-class and the argricultural production
Below the map is the Ocean.
In the centre is a rising
sun, the symbolizing the Revolution and the new life that will be build up.
Surrounding all this is a
cog-wheel, symbolizing the working-class and industry, the driving-powers of
Around the cog-wheel are a
stalk of maize with a cob on the right, and a stalk of sugar-cane on the
left, symbolizing our agricultural wealth.
At the top in the middle is
a red star symbolizing the international spirit of the Mozambiquan
Below is a red ribbon with
the inscription “REPÚBLICA POPULAR DE MOÇAMBIQUE”. 
In 1985 a new version of the
arms appeared on coins. In 1990, when the name of the republic was changed
into repÚblica de moçambique, the name
on the ribbon was changed accordingly.
ð See illustration in the head of this essay.
adapted 1982, 1990
Corpo de Policia Provícia de Moçambique
Policia de seguranca publica
Policia Popular, cap badge (until 1990)
Policia, cap badge & Sleeve patch (present)
Mozambique police emblem
Região Militar de Moçambique
Arms and Banner 
Cap badge 1975-
Mozambique Army, cap badge
Nautical school of Pemba
Air Force emblem
OF THE PROVINCE
Lourenço Marques \ Maputo
DISTRICT CAPITALS OF MOÇAMBIQUE
Porto Amélia / Pemba
João Belo / Xai-xai
Vila Pery / Chimoio
Cabral / Lichinga
© Hubert de Vries.2006-12-18 Updated 23.12.2006 / 06.10.2008
/ 2011-11-17; 2019-03-06
 A geographical historie of
Africa. By Johannes Leo. Translated from the Arabicke and Italian and collected
by Iohn Pory. Fotomechanische
herdruk van de uitgave van George Bishop, 1600. Amsterdam 1969. Vol III, pp. 985-986.
Camões, Luis Vaz de: The Lusiads. Penguin Classics 1952, p. 137.
 The Port of Lisbon in the Early 16th
century. Crónica do
rei D. Afonso Henriques. Duarte Calvão. Cascais, M.B.C.C.G. Inv. 14. Frontispiece.
 O escudo azul com os cinco
bezantes de prata postos em sautor, ampliação de um dos cinco escudetes
nacionais, alude à bandeira das quinas que, durante o período áureo dos
Descobrimentos, representou a actividade militar da Nação. The arms are: Escudo de azul, cinco bezantes de prata postos em
sautor. Elmo de grades, de prata, tauxiado a ouro, forrado de vermelho, de
frente. Correias de vermelho, perfilado de ouro. Paquife e virol de azul e
prata. Timbre, dragão sainte, de prata, linguado e animado de vermelho. Divisa, num listel
branco ondulado, sotoposto ao escudo, em letras de de estilo elzevir, maiúsculas, de negro: "OS PORTUGUESES SOMOS DO
OCIDENTE". The banner of the Minister of National Defence is Azure, five besants in
saltire Argent, within a bordure also Azure, charged with branches of laurel,
in each corner a dragon Or
 Der Herold, 1943, pp. A3-A5.
 Mozambique Revolution. Official Magazine
of Frelimo. Special number issued at the occasion of the Declaration of
Independence on 25th of June 1975.