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  • South African flag meaning

    I am looking for the meaning of the colors and shapes of the flag of South Africa. I am a US geography teacher trying to learn more about your nation.

  • #2

    You can find information about South Africa's national symbols (including the pre-94 ones) at the following website

    Furethermore a book telling the story of the new South African flag has recently been published. Information is available at

    Good luck


    • #3
      Info on the flag

      The national flag of the Republic of South Africa was first used on 27 April 1994.The design and colours are a synopsis of principal elements of the country's flag history. Individual colours, or colour combinations were different meanings for different people and therefore no universal symbolism should be attached to any of the colours.
      The central design of the flag, beginning at the flagpost in a "V" form and flowing into a single horizontal band to the outer edge of the fly, can be interpreted as the convergence of diverse elements within
      South African society, taking the road ahead in unity. The theme of convergence and unity ties in with the motto of the National Coat of Arms, "Unity is Strength".

      Though the statement from the official government website above states that the colours mean different things to different people, I can remember from the speech when the flag was raised for the first time at Athlone Stadium, that the meanings did not have any political parties or any single group in particular.
      So from memory, here's my version:
      Black: To symbolise the chaos that was once here.
      Gold: To symbolise the richness of the land
      Green: Symbolises the land itself
      White: Symbolises cleansing
      Blue: Symbolises the ocean/water.
      Red: Symbolises the blood lost in wars through SA history.
      the "V" symbolises the unity that is described above.
      So kleurling soos snoek en slap tjips!


      • #4
        We certainly do.....

        So why do you believe the yellow,green and black on the SA flag would be connected to the colours of the ANC?
        So kleurling soos snoek en slap tjips!


        • #5
          That flag is a mishmash nightmare which tries to blend Europe together with Africa, someting which cannot be tenable because of inherent differences between the two.

          In a few years after we Africans have regained our stolens land, it will not surprise me if the colours are again changed to reflect the new realities on the ground. Everyone knows that red, white and blue are sysbols of European countries!!


          • #6
            nope wrong again

            The colours have nothing to do with reflecting a particular political party or a particular group of people. The old flag was changed because it symbolised the union jack and previous colonial regimes so why on earth would the new flag be chosen to do the same?

            [Edited by vyfbop on 16th April 2003 at 21:04]
            So kleurling soos snoek en slap tjips!


            • #7
              10 Points awarded to Vyfbop !!

              The national flag of the Republic of South Africa was first used on 27 April 1994.The design and colours are a synopsis of principal elements of the country's flag history. Individual colours, or colour combinations were different meanings for different people and therefore no universal symbolism should be attached to any of the colours.

              The central design of the flag, beginning at the flagpost in a "V" form and flowing into a single horizontal band to the outer edge of the fly, can be interpreted as the convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity. The theme of convergence and unity ties in with the motto of the National Coat of Arms, "Unity is Strength".




              • #8
                I think you may be loosing the plot Wounded.


                • #9
                  Colorful flag

                  And quite beautiful if I may opine. And the comment about the ANC is quite biased I think.

                  Hmmm. I really would like to talk to you guys about the history of your country. I really would. I find the part WoundedSoul mentioned about the French Huguenots very interesting. Why did they leave France for South Africa? And natives who have lived for centuries on land know it better than settlers. That is a fact. If they were hunter gatherers and the land fed them on that lifestyle enough to live for generations then the land and the people were in balance. If agriculture was not used initially it was because it was not necessary, necessity after all is the mother of invention. If non-agrarian societies were sustainable than why change? I can tell WoundedSoul you are not a cultural anthropologist. LOL. OH, well.

                  Como estas Senor Jaybang? Cuando vas a regresar a tu hogar? Pronto? FUFU. (Practice your espanol). hahaha.
                  El Amor es el Pan de la Vida, El Amor es la Copa Divina, El Amor es un algo sin nombre, que Obsesiona el Hombre por una Mujer....El Amor es el pan de la vida


                  • #10

                    I respectfully disagree with you. Settlers never know squat about the new land and gain knowledge through trial and error. If the Europeans had seen the native Africans as equals and with the same cultural values and worldview they might have felt differently about sharing and being equitable. Truth was they felt land should belong to those that 'develop' it. Who sees land that way? Europeans? Native Americans (many in the Americas) never perceived land that way. As tradeable, exploitable, or having commercial value. Land was basically there as the mother. The sustainer. And to many hunter-gatherer cultures who adored their roaming and their innate freedom in that lifestyle, settling down and growing crops went against all they saw as the most important aspects of living. Now, if the Huguenots were fleeing religious persecution I would think them more open-minded towards different cultures. Like the tribal South Africans. WoundedSoul, what do you like about traditional African tribal culture? What would you find attractive about it if you were Zulu or Swahili or a member of the many different ethnic groups of the black, tribal peoples? If you say there is nothing you like about it, I would then categorize you as being ethnocentric at the least and prejudiced at the most. ALL cultures have beautiful aspects.

                    We could all say things we don't like about a certain culture. If I wanted to be ethnocentric and prejudiced and closed-minded (like my husband's sister) I would say Dutch, German and British extraction people with their stiff upper lip attitudes, lousy food, and boring emotional range, pale washed out faces, bad dancers, and uninteresting music, and lack of expressiveness as big draw backs in general and I am glad I was never a part of their culture ever. It is one of the most boring, uninteresting colorless, and not fun groups to belong to. Now, DOESN'T that sound stupid? Uninformed? Ignorant and prejudiced? All people can sound bad if you let them, WoundedSoul. Your comments regarding the South African native tribal groups sounds very very prejudiced, I am sorry to say Woundedsoul. Just because land is not in use, does not mean it never had people who depended on it. ALL LIFE depends on the land. Even the land that is undeveloped. Developing land does not mean bettering the land or the country. Not necessarily. Changing artificially the landscape and introducing non-native crops and or animals, usually has the opposite effect on the land, and creates problems. Yet, I understand the need for the settlers for a home. Some kind of home they were denied in Europe. People who are persecuted though should be very compassionate and understanding with others who are different than they, they have felt the sting of oppression and should know how wrong it is. That they did not exhibit compassion and brotherhood with the natives, makes me wonder about their intentions for the land and its peoples. Settlers and Natives should have intermarried in my opinion from the very beginning. When your children and grandchildren have blood of different races running around and they are the only future the country has, and for centuries mixing and mixing. No one after a while cares what color you are, and everyone is part of the country not just some clique. But let us say, each group does not want to marry someone different. Fine. But RESPECT the equal rights of all. Of all. Give them the vote and the demographic representation in the political system. If you love South Africa, how can you not love the PEOPLE who were there for milenia? Before any settlers got there first? If you live in Australia and love Australia how can you not LOVE the Aborigines? They are part and parcel of Australia? Do people love the cage and not the birds? Is that sick way of thinking a European trait? To hate the native peoples but covet the land that has shaped those people's very cells?

                    El Amor es el Pan de la Vida, El Amor es la Copa Divina, El Amor es un algo sin nombre, que Obsesiona el Hombre por una Mujer....El Amor es el pan de la vida


                    • #11
                      Consider this...

                      How is land 'stolen' when it is not in use? Parts of South Africa were barren and had no claim.

                      The majority of the natives in South Africa were nomadic. They would leave one section of the land, sometimes for a few seasons (to avoid winters etc), and sometimes for many years (to avoid prolonged droughts), and return to it once the conditions were favourable.

                      So imagine you have a holiday house near the beach. You leave it for most of the year to go and work and when you return during the end-of-year vacation you find that another family has moved in and claimed the house because it wasnt in use when they arrived. Consider what would've happened if there was no police or authoritative body you could turn to to help you evict the squatters.

                      The ultimate question is: How did the settlers know the land wasn't in use?

                      So you say the red-white-blue of the flag symbolises the Boers. But then why did they choose red instead of choosing orange?
                      And you say that the green-yellow-black symbolises the ANC. But then why is the yellow on the flag a different shade of yellow when compared to that on the ANC flag?
                      So kleurling soos snoek en slap tjips!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by thiswoundedsoul

                        We are being too hasty in our sentencing of the settlers. The history of South Africa is by no means 'black and white.' Ethically, the history is a shade of gray.
                        FUFU: No human history is ever black and white. All are shades or gray. Precisely why I do not approve of people seeing other human people as 'savages' or 'inferiors' or 'incompetent' to run a society. THAT IS NOT TRUE. Human potential is human potential in all societies. No story is cut and dried and easy to pigeonhole. That is not how truly complex and manifaceted humanity is.
                        As regards the land, I nowhere said that the settlers have more right to ownership, or that the indigenous peoples did not appreciate Mother Nature. I simply said that the settlers knew the land agriculturally and maximized the potential, without which modern south africa might not exist.
                        FUFU: If it was not for the Native South African tribes being hunter-gatherers and living in sync with the seasons and the way of being of the land in SA, the Europeans would not have had some beautifully fertile and preserved lands to exploit now would they? IF the SA's thought like the Europeans and believed and had the same ethos and ambitions where would the resources have gone? To the dogs because all land of any tillable value or richness in Europe was "private property" and for the exclusive use of a small group of the European elite. Therefore rendering the landless non-elite from Europe homeless and having to go to other lands to survive or escape from religious persecution, landlessness, or low social stature. Instead of recreating a society based on equity they learned the exclusivity of land rights and the exploitation tactics they had fled from. I find that a bit difficult. But I understand.

                        For them, the land was not just something to walk on and look at: it was a child to be reared and whose growth produced great things.

                        FUFU: Have you asked the traditional tribal peoples their perspective and point of view about what the land means to them? I have a real feeling that if you did Woundedsoul you would see something interesting. That how the natives see the land is something only people who truly love it and see their lives tied to it can create the stories, rituals and beliefs that exist when a group of people occupy land for milenia. It is part of their souls WoundedSoul. You thinking they just saw it as walk on and look at, is ignorant. I am sorry it is. If the Europeans love the land why can't they love the ancient cultures SHAPED and MADE on it. The sun of Africa and its intensity and beauty made human adaptation require that the melanin count in the African be intense to protect the skin from burning. They made the features and the characteristics all to adapt to that climate. WHY? Because God wants the people who live, love and suffer and die on that land (their home) to be COMFORTABLE and to be able to adapt and be one and in harmony. Europeans if they stay in South Africa for 20,000 years according to geneticists will also mutate eventually to adapt to the land. We as homo sapiens adapt to land. Land does not adapt to us. We belong to the planet, the planet does not belong to us. That is something lost in all these rivalries, WoundedSoul. I happen to believe land belongs to everyone in need of it. But all should share and cooperate. Especially if they have a history together like your people do with the South African tribal peoples WoundedSoul. Love for that land should bind all together in improvement and preservation and conservation. All together. Como se dice en frances francois, "ensemble", juntos, together.

                        I said nothing more, and therefore any implications that I am racist and imperialistic is in bad taste, and deserving of an apology.
                        Fufu: I made a simple observation. I did not say you were racist. And or imperialistic either. If you think I did, I am sincerely sorry WoundedSoul. I think you should reread what I said.

                        What is more, I am annoyed by this phony hatred of the settlers, from persons who in the same moment are spending their rand currency, and having their university education, and drinking their Cape wine.

                        FUFU: And I fail to understand how a person who has lived their whole life in a land like South Africa perhaps, fails to love the tribal people of that land and their huge contributions to South African culture? Unless the Europeans contributions are the only ones recognized as of value, due to modern capitalism and commercialism are the only yardsticks of measuring culture nowadays. I really find this incomprehensible. And I do not hate any people. People are beautiful and the reason for my love of anthropology, my profession. Lol.

                        As regards European culture, I would not say they are unexpressive: read romanticism before you make comments like that. Read Shakespeare and Keats!

                        Fufu: I have read the complete works of Shakespeare and Keats too. What I said was how ignorant it sounds to place value judgements on people's culture. If you have never lived extensively with them, speak their language fluently and followed their mores and traditions to 'test' their cultural 'value' how can you think you know them enough to think your way or culture is superior? You can't. Simple point. I can sit here and think, WoundedSoul does not know my country's master musicians, literature, poetry, architecture, universities, etc. etc. how can he think his is 'better'? He can't. You can't emit a final judgement unless you experience the culture in question. Most people are ethnocentric and don't look beyond their backyards. Some USA citizens I know for example don't know Universities exist in South Africa or that Zulu is an important language spoken by millions of people in South Africa. TOTAL ignorance. But what else is new? People of all ethnicities worlds are little microcosms of reality and not the whole world.....but they would like to think it is. Lol. Oh, WoundedSoul, I threw those value judgements not because I believe it. But because I was making an example of how easy it is to dismiss other cultures as irrelevant and be judgemental about them. It is ignorant to do that. And one should not dismiss tribal societies in South Africa as 'unsophisticated' or 'trivial' when coping with native cultures, linguists are smart. The linguists say learning a tribal language is just as hard as learning a new European one. For language is complex and a reflection of human culture at work. And one starts respecting that group when one has to cope with their cultural paradigm and there is nothing that makes you understand how complex human people are when trying to decode an unknown language. Lol. No prejudices are allowed. Lol.

                        As regards culture in general, no person is expected to have interests for every culture. For example, I happen not to be intersted in Mongolia. Does this make me a bad person?

                        FUFU: Of course not. I was not interested for the longest time in Chinese culture or British culture. NO INTEREST at all. Until I met some people from there and we talked and started friendships and they opened my eyes. These countries and cultures are a whole world. And a beautiful and new one. And I would be losing out on learning something new if I did not interact with them and open my mind. And I did. And I am glad I did. It is wonderful. As all cultural experiences tend to be.

                        As regards barren land, how were the settlers supposed to know that people left it like that for a year? There was a communication gap between the settlers and the natives. The settlers tried to get along: mulitple history books agree on that.
                        FUFU: LEARN the languages, and open the communication and respect the ANCIENT peoples who occupied the land the Newcomers are in. If you don't respect and open up communication.........violence and discontent follow. For nothing creates emnity faster than misunderstanding, patronizing or arrogant attitudes, and assumptions, and diametrically opposed mentalities and value systems. The clash is heated and bad, and not much help in patching things over. The Settlers were not supposed to get along, they were supposed to share, co-exist and cooperate. Maybe they could not and were limited by their mentality and ignorances of what was in the heads of the other groups. But that is why I believe you better eradicate the ignorance and open up the communication. For to fail to do so, and to use terror or fascism to protect your interests to the detriment of others, is to court doom and disaster. Simple message.
                        El Amor es el Pan de la Vida, El Amor es la Copa Divina, El Amor es un algo sin nombre, que Obsesiona el Hombre por una Mujer....El Amor es el pan de la vida


                        • #13
                          HAVE you EVER tried WoundedSoul to walk in their shoes?

                          Originally posted by thiswoundedsoul


                          You have said that the settlers did not exhibit compassion for the natives. This is simply not true. The Dutch were under orders to treat them respectfully.
                          Fufu: Under orders? You mean the Dutch had to be ordered to respect their fellow human beings who's land was their ANCIENT, ancestral lands and not really belonged to them through tradition and occupation for many thousands of years? ORDERED to respect? Respect can't be ordered it must come from the heart and the mind and be earned. How can you respect people you have been taught from babyhood to view as inferior, barbaric, uncivilized, ugly and dangerous and filled with the Devil? The settlers were not taught to see the Blacks with love, respect and empathy, as equals in all aspects. That is the crux of the dilemma right there. For what you think on a deep subconscious level becomes manifest and institutionalized, and no one should be surprised people get very angry when a group of people sees them as inferior and 'less'. You did not like my cheap analysis of German, Dutch and British culture did you? Imagine if millions thought like the fake analysis I just did and saw that fake image as TRUTH, and invaded South Africa and through military might and colonialism were able to take away your homes and etc? How much hostility do you think you would harbor for me? A lot I imagine. For in a deep level you are negating my humanity and my spirituality most thoroughly. And that offends. It offends the black South Africans a whole lot. It does not mean they are sinless. They sin, and they have defects and failures. They are human just like the WHITES. But whatever great things and human qualities the whites have, so do the blacks have as well. And to deny that reality is to court problems with a capital P.

                          The most famous settler of all befriended a native woman and they were very close. Things were going well: they traded and lived in peace, but one of the native groups resented the Europeans for trading with the OTHER native group and began attacking the Europeans. The indigenous people were always hostile to the Europeans, from the beginning. Now I am not excusing what happened later, but bear in mind how the history started.

                          FUFU: Did the Europeans know of the long history of the African tribal rivalries? Did they respect those rivalries and tried to be impartial? Or did they exploit the divisions for their own gain with selfish motives? Be honest WoundedSoul. Be honest. Peace. FUFU. Let us keep up the discussion it is getting interesting I think.
                          El Amor es el Pan de la Vida, El Amor es la Copa Divina, El Amor es un algo sin nombre, que Obsesiona el Hombre por una Mujer....El Amor es el pan de la vida


                          • #14
                            Never have I seen a man as racist as the woundedbraingayone, this man deserves nothing but death in the hands of the natives - then and only then would he appreciate that you cannot simply work into a man's home, take the best part of his property and when he complains, at best you lock him up and at worst kill him, his family everything. Basically you strip of every ounce of human dignity.

                            Then this man's children fight back like Mugabe and Mandela did and still are doing - then there are labelled as terrorists by the same children of murderers and rapists who caused these fights in thefirst place. Eventually they are told "Hey fight is bad, let's have some peace - we will allow you ten percent of what we initially stole from you in return".

                            I say - NEVERRRRRRRRR. The battle must continue.


                            • #15
                              Oh yeh.. thats great nubianman..

                              Why not just kill everyone who in their life have done no harm just because their forefathers treated foot on african land. Kill them for just being ALIVE. While you're at it, why not go kill all white skineed humans in the whole world. Its obvious you have a problem with not only south african whites, but all whites of existence. no matter what they do for you. tell me, if a white man saved your life one day, would you kill him?

                              You and your pride are going to hell one day.