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The Cobra Symbol / The 7 Aims of the SLA

The Cobra Symbol / The Seven Aims of the SLA

The emblem of the Symbionese Liberation Army is 170,000 years old, and it is one of the first symbols used by people to signify God and life. The two bottom heads on each side of the Cobra represent the four principles of life : the sun, the moon, the earth, and the water. The three center heads represent God and the universe, and are called the God head. The number seven as embracing all the universal forces of God and life can be traced to the Egyptian temples and their seven pillars, to the seven candles of the pre-Zionist, North African religions, to the Buddhist and Hindu religions, and to the North and South American Indian religions. This is because the seven principles explain the inter-relationships of life, of the family and the state, of the human anatomy and the universe. And because the basic principle behind any kind of union and series of relationships must be equally accessible to all concerned, we see why the seven heads of the cobra have but one body. The thoughts and purpose in each of the seven heads of the cobra penetrate its common body and soul, and from this we see how the source of the cobra’s survival lies not in any individual head, but rather in the relationship and unity of all the heads to each other.

The Symbionese Liberation Army has selected the Seven-Headed Cobra as our emblem because we realize that an army is a mass that needs unity in order to become a fighting force, and we know the true unity among people must be based upon a concern that is universal. It is a revolutionary unity of all people against a common oppressor enemy of the people. This unity of seven heads in one body defines the essence of co-operation and socialism in the great undertaking of revolutionary war. Through the puritan capitalist ethics of competition, individualism, fascism, racism, sexism, and imperialism the enemy is attacking us. This enemy functions by means of attacking one race or group among us in an attempt to force us into submission and division and isolation from each other. From these attacks, we have learned that our common enemy will not stop until we come together to stop him, for he lives off the murder and oppression of our divided and therefore defenseless people.

We have chosen the Seven-Headed Cobra as the emblem of the S.L.A. because our forces are from every walk of life, from every religion, and of every race, and by our unity does our strength and our common goal for freedom from the chains of capitalism make true the meaning of our seven principles of unity. Our military and political strength arises from the masses of all our people, for when the people are at one in their inmost body, they shatter even the hardest of iron or of bronze, and when the people understand each other in their inmost heart, their words are sweet and strong.

The seven memberships of our federation are men and women who are black, brown, yellow, red, white, young and old. Each of these members joins together and speaks and fights for the best interests of all within the body, just as one head of the cobra can be attacked without the others rising to strike with venom in self-defense to destroy the attacker. Each head of the cobra stands in organic need of all the others in order to maintain its survival.

From this example of the necessity of unity in order to survive, the S.L.A. will build and fight for the socialist unity of all oppressed peoples. A cry from any one of us will echo in the body of our common ear, and we will attack out of instinct, and in self-defense, for our survival. And with the venom of our seven heads we will destroy the fascist insect which preys upon the life of the people ; and with the minds of our seven heads, and the spirit of our one body and soul, we will secure a future for our children.

The Seven Principles of the SLA

(The seven heads of the Naga were held to represent the seven principles of the SLA, here presented in Swahili, Spanish, and English. The principles are identical to the seven points of the black nationalist creed of Kwanzaa, but the text explication was apparently developed by the SLA authors.)


Umoja-La Unidad-Unity--To strive for and maintain unity in our household, our nation and in The Symbionese Federation.

Kujichagulia-La Libre Determinacion-Self Determination--To define ourselves, name ourselves, speak for ourselves and govern ourselves.

Ujima-Trabajo Colectivo y Responsibilidad-Collective Work and Responsibility--To build and maintain our nation and the federation together by making our brothers’ and sisters’ and the Federation’s problems our problems and solving them together.

Ujamaa-Produccion Cooperativa-Cooperative Production--To build and maintain our own economy from our skills, and labor and resources and to insure ourselves and other nations that we all profit equally from our labor.

Nia-Proposito-Purpose--To make as our collective vocation the development and liberation of our nation, and all oppressed people, in order to restore our people and all oppressed people to their traditional greatness and humanity.

Kuumba-Creativo-Creativity--To do all we can, as best we can, in order to free our nation and defend the federation and constantly make it and the earth that we all share more beautiful and beneficial.

Imani-Fe-Faith--To believe in our unity, our leaders, our teachers, our people, and in the righteousness and victory of our struggle and the struggle of all oppressed and exploited people.

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