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THE SOUTH AFRICAN FLAG

Posted on Monday, 09th Feb 2015

A country’s flag is fundamental to their identity as a nation. The current flag of South Africa was adopted on 27 April 1994 at the beginning of South Africa’s new democratic government, replacing the flag that had been used since 1928. The new national flag symbolised a fresh start for the country and was designed by State Herald Frederick Brownell.

The old South African flag (1928-1994)

It was only after the first post-Union Afrikaner government took office in 1925 that a bill was submitted to Parliament to introduce a national flag for the Union. This provoked a violent controversy that lasted three years, as the British thought that the Afrikaners wanted to remove the imperial symbols.

The new South African flag (1994-present)

The present South African national flag was first flown on 27 April 1994. However, the flag was first commissioned as an interim flag to be replaced at a later stage. It was only decided upon at the very last minute, barely making it onto the nation’s flagpole in time for the elections.
 

The choice of a new flag was part of the negotiation process when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. A nationwide public competition was held in 1993 and over 7,000 designs were submitted to the National Symbols Commission. Six designs were chosen and presented to the public and the Negotiating Council, but none of the designs were suitable. Numerous design studios were contacted to submit further proposals, but were also rejected. Parliament went into recess at the end of 1993 without a suitable candidate for the new national flag. Eventually, the interim flag was selected as the most representative… at the eleventh hour!

Symbolism of the South African flag
Three of the colours; black, green and yellow, are found in the banner of the African National Congress that become the ruling party and were instrumental in the freedom struggles. The other three colous; red, white and blue, can be found on the old Transvaal ‘vierkleur’, the Dutch tricolour and the modern flag of the United Kingdom. The ‘Y’ shape in the flag is a symbol of a convergence of the diverse elements within South African society, travelling the road ahead in unity.

 

Posted in Jewels of Southern Africa

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