One of the national symbols in many countries across the world is the flag. Typically, each country has a unique ensign with a meaning or deep history. In the history of South Africa, there have been two distinctive flags that were designed and put in use. The current South African flag was first flown in 1994, and it represents the rich culture and history of the nation.
What is the symbolism of the South African flag? The South African flag is used to represent the country even when the name is not used. It is a national symbol that shows the rest of the world that South Africans form a united national community. It makes the country unique. The ensign has six different colours that do not have a specific meaning.
What are the 3 flags on the old South African flag?
Before the current ensign became a national symbol in 1994, other flags were used in the colonial era. Between 1902 and 1910, South Africa fell under the British Union pennant after the British took over the Natal, Cape, Orange Free State, and Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek colonies. Each of the territories was allowed to have a colonial ensign as per the British rules and traditions.
From 1910 to 1928, the South African colonies got new South African flags, but the British Union ensign was still recognised as the main symbol of unity. The blue and red ensigns were used for both government and merchant operations.
In 1924, the British Union Ensign stopped being used. It was replaced with the old South African ensign that was used until 1994. The old ensign was adopted on the 31st of May 1928. It was based on the Prince's Flag and had horizontal striped in orange, white, and blue colours. At the middle of the white stripe, there were smaller flags of the British Union, Orange Free State, and Transvaal Vierkleur.
Is the old South African flag illegal? On the 21st of August 2019, a court restricted the free display of the apartheid ensign because it was "a vivid symbol of white supremacy and black disenfranchisement and suppression." The court further stated that the old pennant celebrates the apartheid era that was characterised by racial oppression and segregation and dehumanisation of the African population. The Nelson Mandela Foundation had earlier filed a lawsuit saying that the display of the old ensign was equivalent to hate speech, harassment, and discrimination of the black people.
What do the colors of the South African flag stand for?
The current South African flag was flown for the first time on the 27th of April 1994. Frederick Brownell, the then State Herald of the country designed it. It replaced the old flag that had been in use since 1928. The flag has six different colours that do not necessarily have a vital meaning. What do the colours of the flag mean?
- Green: This colour symbolises the natural wealth of the country.
- Black: It symbolises the African people.
- White: This colour represents peace.
- Gold: It shows the mineral resources that are found beneath the soil.
When one is asked to define the colours of the South African flag, it is necessary to note that the green, black, and gold colours are also part of the African National Congress' flag. Blue, red and white feature in the current flags of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Blue and white were also featured in the old flag.
The South African pennant is rectangular. The length is one and a half times longer than its width. It has all six colours that are listed above. It features a band in the shape of the letter Y. The shape symbolises the coming together of the different elements within the country, which lead to national unity.
There are different events where this South African emblem of unity is flown, especially during official government functions. The government has specific rules and guidelines that guide how the ensign is displayed in different stations. It is, therefore, important for every citizen and resident of the country to familiarise themselves with the Government Notice 510 that was gazetted on the 8th of June 2001. The notice is applicable to all official flag stations countrywide.
The South African flag is made of six different colours. It is a symbol of national cohesion and unity that was first used in 1994 after the old ensign was phased out. Recently, a local court restricted the free display of the old pennant because it promoted oppression and decimation of African people.