We have come to know and love our national flag,it has taken a special place in our hearts.Yet the question remains, how much do we know about our flag? Like who designed it? How did it come about? What does it symbolise? We investigate all these issues and this story
The South African national flag was designed by Frederic Brownell, who also happens to be the designer of the Namibian national flag. The new flag replaced the old national flag, otherwise known as “Prinse Vlag’’ named after Jan van Rebeck. The current national flag was adopted on the 27th of April, on the first day of the 1994 general elections.
It was adopted to represent democracy as per the negotiations process set in motion when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. Although there is a general perception that our national flag symbolize “color combinations” or "racial harmony", our government information suggest that the only symbolism in our national flag are the V and Y shape, which can be interpreted as a “coming together of our diverse elements within our South African society and taking the road ahead in unity’’.
The first flag for South Africa was adopted from the British Union back in 1910, followed closely by the post-Union Afrikaner government flag in 1928. The old Apartheid government flag consisted of the Orange Free State flag, the Unions flag and the Transvaal flag. All of which were place on the white strip which was on the middle of the flag. The later flag is the one that was substituted by the current national flag in 1994. The new national flag was first commissioned as an interim flag for the next five years, pending new government was going to take a decision whether to design a new flag or continue with the interim flag.
A nation wide competition was held in 1993, with the National Symbol Commission receiving more than 7000 designs. Six were drawn up and presented to the public and the national flag counsel, but none elicited enthusiastic support. After that a number of design studios were contacted to submit proposals, again none of those proposals were successful. The parliament went into recess at the end of 1993 without a suitable candidate for the new national flag. It was not until February 1994, that Cyril Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer the two chief negotiators of ANC and NP respectively, were given the task of resolving the flag issue. The final decision was adopted on the 15th of March 1994. Derived from a design by Frederick Brownell, the new national flag was published on the 20th of April 1994, a merely seven day before it was to be inaugurated. By 10th May the new national flag was hoisted as Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first black and democratic elected president.
Here we speak to a vexologist, vexology is the study of flags, and find out more about Frederick Brownell,the man who our national flag was derived from.