Choose your country and language:

Africa

  • Global
  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • DRC
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Americas

  • USA
  • Argentina
  • Brazil

Asia Pacific

  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Australia

Europe

  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
Back

TTalk of a new South African flag design first emerged with the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990. It came at a time when the country needed change, a binding symbol of hope and freedom and a true rainbow nation indicator.

It started in 1993 already, when a national competition invited the public to submit flag designs, the pressure was on to create what would become the most visible symbol of the fledgeling democracy.

The new flag design was considered a vital process which happened rather quickly when a committee was tasked to come up with the perfect design with little time to spare. Led by former State Herald, Fred Brownell, the team was given one week to come up with an appropriate design.

Brownell had reportedly made a few sketches the year before, while at a vexillological (flag expert) conference in Switzerland. One of these was selected by both sides of the transitional government as the preferred design. It was even sent to Nelson Mandela who was in Rustenburg at the time, to approve it by fax. This would be considered the most important approval of all.

The current South African flag was only destined to be the country’s interim flag to coincide with the interim government, but was eventually assimilated as one of the official symbols of the new democracy.

The South African national flag was first hoisted on 27 April 1994 when the country held its first free elections. Today, this is known as Freedom Day, and is celebrated as a public holiday on which the flag is traditionally flown.

Officially, the South African flag colours do not hold any symbolism, although they have unmistakable historical origins. Black, yellow and green are the colours of ruling ANC party. Red, white and blue are a nod to both the flags of the European colonists as well as the old Boer republics. The V or Y shape, which can be interpreted as "the convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity". It can also be said that the colours do hold the following unofficial meanings: 

Red symbolizes bloodshed and sacrifices made in South Africa's struggle for independence

White stands for Europeans and peace and harmony between native people and Europeans

Green represents fertility of the South African land

Yellow stands for the mineral and other natural wealth of South Africa

Black represents the native people of South Africa

Blue stands for blue sky and endless opportunities for South Africans

The meaning of the South African flag design can be traced to the motto on the National Coat of Arms, which reads: “!ke e:/xarra //ke”, which is the Khoisan language of the /Xam people, meaning “diverse people unite”.

The “Y” represents a convergence of diversity, which can be interpreted as the convergence of diverse elements within South African society taking the road ahead in unity. South Africans are proud of their colourful and symbolic flag which is easily recognised at any given international event.

Best buy

Related articles

Active adventure

The art landscape in South Africa

Active adventure
The art landscape in South Africa

South Africa’s history of art is a long and interesting one

Vibrant culture

SA’s top restaurants for travelling foodies

Vibrant culture
SA’s top restaurants for travelling foodies

South Africa’s culinary heritage is as colourful as its flag, and as multi-layered as its 11 official languages.

Vibrant culture

South Africa’s most famous battle sites

Vibrant culture
South Africa’s most famous battle sites

South African society is a fascinating blend of many and varied cultural groups that rub along together in a manner that is, for the most part, peaceful and happy. A historical tour of famous battle sites will bring home to you just how remarkable this is.

Vibrant culture

A glimpse into Durban’s Indian culture

Vibrant culture
A glimpse into Durban’s Indian culture

the Durban skyline becomes visible on the horizon, one can almost hear the beat of the African drum and Indian drum beating in unison in welcome, and my tummy grumbles at the thought of relishing some aromatic Durban curry and shisa nyama (traditional barbequed meat).

Vibrant culture

The must-visit restaurants in Durban

Vibrant culture
The must-visit restaurants in Durban

The must-visit restaurants in Durban.

Vibrant culture

The Cradle of Humankind: the world’s richest hominim site

Vibrant culture
The Cradle of Humankind: the world’s richest hominim site

The Cradle, so named because it was the earliest area in which evidence of our ape-like ancestors were discovered, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999

Vibrant culture

Cape Town’s iconic historical buildings

Vibrant culture
Cape Town’s iconic historical buildings

Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest city, but its encircling mountains, Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, have witnessed a longer history than that described by its surviving historic buildings.

Vibrant culture

All you need to know about Durban Indian cuisine

Vibrant culture
All you need to know about Durban Indian cuisine

All you need to know about Durban Indian cuisine

South Africa on social media

Copyright © 2018 South African Tourism
|Terms and conditions|Disclaimer|Privacy policy