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Flag of South Africa (1928–1994)

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South Africa
Flag of South Africa (1928–1994).svg
Proportion 2:3
Adopted 31 May 1928; 90 years ago (1928-05-31)
Relinquished 20 April 1994; 24 years ago (1994-04-20)
Design Three horizontal bands of orange, white and blue with three small flags (the Union Jack to the left, the vertical version of the flag of the Orange Free State in the centre and the flag of the South African Republic to the right) centered on the white band.

The flag of South Africa from 1928 to 1994 was the flag of the Union of South Africa and its successor state, the Republic of South Africa until 1994. It was also used in South-West Africa (now Namibia) when the territory was under South African rule. Based on the Dutch Prince's Flag, it contained the flag of the United Kingdom, the flag of the Orange Free State and the flag of the South African Republic in the centre.[1] A nickname for the flag was Oranje, Blanje, Blou (Afrikaans: 'orange, white, blue').[2] It was adopted in 1928 by an act of Parliament from the first Afrikaner majority government and was used during the apartheid era. It was replaced by the current flag of South Africa in 1994 with the commencement of the republic's transitional constitution and the end of apartheid.

Following its retirement in 1994 the flag has been controversial within South Africa, with some people viewing it as historic and a symbol of Afrikaner heritage while others view it as a symbol of apartheid and of white supremacy.

Adoption[edit]

The South African Red Ensign used unofficially until 1928
The flag using a darker shade of "Union" blue common before the early 1980s.
The flag using a lighter shade of "Solway" blue as specified by the South African government in 1982.

Before 31 May 1928 the only flag that had official status in the Union of South Africa was the United Kingdom's Union Jack as South Africa was part of the British Empire. The South Africa Red Ensign was used as an unofficial flag. In 1925, discussion rose about creating a new flag for South Africa as many descendants of Boers found the Union Jack unacceptable after the Boer War.[3] In 1926 the Balfour Declaration granted South Africa legislative autonomy, opening the possibility of a new flag. British settlers wanted the Union Jack in the new flag as part of the British Empire while the Afrikaners did not. A compromise was reached whereby the new flag would consist of the Prince's Flag as this was the first flag raised on South Africa and a badge of the Union Jack in the centre with the flags of the Orange Free State and the South African Republic.[3][4] The Union Jack was mirrored in the new flag with the hoist on the right so that it did not take precedence over the others.[3] This was denounced by D. F. Malan, then the South African Minister of Home Affairs, who described the group of miniature flags "a scab... which will one day fall off".[5]

In 1927, the Afrikaner majority Parliament of South Africa passed the Union Nationality & Flag Act, which stated that the Union Jack and the new Flag of the Union of South Africa were to have equal status as the flag of South Africa. The act came into force in 1928 when both flags were raised over the Houses of Parliament, Cape Town and the Union Buildings in Pretoria [6] This dual status was ended in 1957 with the passing of the Flags Amendment Act which declared that the union flag would be the sole flag of South Africa with the act also declaring that "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" would be the country's sole anthem and dropping "God Save the Queen".[3]

The flags of the UK, Orange Free State and South African Republic, as arranged in the centre of the national flag

When South Africa became a republic in 1961, the flag remained the same. The Afrikaner voting majority disliked the flag retaining the Union Jack in the centre. Repeated calls were made for it to be removed or for a new flag but no action was taken by the ruling National Party until 1968. B. J. Vorster convened a commission in that year to create a new flag in time for the 10th anniversary of South Africa's declaration of independence in 1971, but no changes were eventually made.[7] The flag was treated with respect by Afrikaners with daily flag salutes in schools.[8] It was also used as part of celebrations of the inauguration of the State President.[9]

Due to variances in manufacturing, many flags were manufactured with their blue a dark shade akin to that found on the flag of the UK as many early flags were made in the UK. Because of this discrepancy, in 1982, the South African government specified that "Solway blue", a lighter shade of blue, be used on the flags as was originally intended.[10][11]

The flag was featured on the cantons of the flags of government agencies such the military, prisons service, and police.[12] After the flag was retired in 1994, the new South African flag replaced it on those flags' cantons.[12]

Opposition[edit]

Despite the flag's origins and adoption pre-dating the National Party's ascension to power, the flag gradually became associated with the apartheid regime. Movements like the Black Sash[13] and Umkhonto we Sizwe[14] started protesting against it with their own symbols. Often the flag of South Africa would be removed from public display and replaced with the banned ANC flag.[14] The flag would also be the subject of public burnings during anti-apartheid protests.[15][16]

After 1989, F. W. de Klerk was elected president and immediately unbanned the African National Congress (ANC) and released their leader Nelson Mandela from prison. De Klerk instigated negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa with Mandela's ANC. One of the ANC's demands was that the flag gradually decrease in usage in South African life and that a new flag be created, as black South Africans associated the current one with apartheid and Afrikaner nationalism.[17]

The negotiations led to the South African apartheid referendum, 1992 where voters approved the ending of apartheid. The referendum decision resulted in the International Rugby Board allowing the South Africa national rugby union team to play test matches again. The ANC agreed to endorse the team on the provision that the flag not be used. During the return test, the Conservative Party handed out numerous flags to the majority white crowd as a symbol of defiance against the ANC.[18] At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the South African team performed under a specially designed flag for the National Olympic Committee of South Africa, although white South African spectators at the games waved the then national flag, despite attempts by officials to stop them.[19]

The post-1994 flag of South Africa

In 1994 the State Herald of South Africa, Fred Brownell, was approached to design a new national flag for South Africa to replace the flag in time for the first elections after apartheid. He designed the new flag of South Africa with a combination of the old flag and the colours of the ANC flag. [20] The new flag design was approved personally by both de Klerk and Mandela before being unanimously approved by the Transitional Executive Council on 15 March 1994. De Klerk made the public proclamation of the replacement of the old flag on 20 April, seven days before the 1994 South African general election on 27 April 1994.[20] When the flag was lowered for the last time at the parliament building in Cape Town, onlookers approvingly shouted "Down, down!" as it was removed.[21][22]

After 1994[edit]

Following its official retirement as the flag of South Africa, the flag was adopted by some white South Africans as being a symbol of Afrikaner heritage and history.[2] Many South Africans still view it as a symbol of apartheid, and therefore have strongly discouraged its use.[23] Despite the negative associations, it was never banned by the Government of South Africa post-1994 and the right to display it in South Africa is protected under Chapter Two of the Constitution of South Africa as an expression of free speech.[24] In the 21st century, usage of the old South African flag experienced use of as a symbol by white supremacists not just in South Africa but worldwide.[25][26] A particular awareness of this followed the shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina black church in 2015, as the suspect Dylann Roof had previously been pictured wearing a jacket with the flag and the flag of Rhodesia on it.[27] This association with apartheid and racism often led to calls for the flags that were used in a historical context, to be removed from display. An example of this is Cooma, Australia, where it is flown to commemorate South African workers in the Snowy Mountains Scheme alongside the Canadian Red Ensign, 49 star US flag, and other flags from 1959 when the Avenue was dedicated.[28]

The flag at the Castle of Good Hope in 2006

The flag has also been used as a symbol of protest post-1994.[29] In 2005, a statue of King Makhado was vandalised in Louis Trichardt with the colours of the flag as a protest against a proposal to change the name of the town to Makhado.[30] Some South Africans in the 21st century started to fly the flag as a protest against what they perceived as the failure of the ANC to make progress in governing South Africa as a democracy.[31]

At Cape Town's Castle of Good Hope, the flag was flown from the castle alongside the Union Jack, flag of the Netherlands and the current flag of South Africa to display the powers that ruled South Africa through history. In 1994 it was agreed that they would remain on the castle parapet as historical reference. However, in 2012 following complaints from the ANC member of parliament Nomfunelo Mabedla, all the flags were removed from the parapet apart from the current flag of South Africa and the removed flags were placed in the castle's museum.[32]

In 2008, the flag was mistakenly put on posters in Ghana advertising that year's Africa Cup of Nations, sparking outrage in South Africa.[33][34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "How an old Dutch flag became a racist symbol". The Economist. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Merten, Marianne (13 April 2015). "Post-Statue SA: What will be left when the toppling is done?". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d "South Africa (1928–1994)". Flags of the World. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  4. ^ "South African Election Special, 2". C-SPAN.org. 
  5. ^ South African Tragedy: The Life and Times of Jan Hofmeyr, Alan Paton, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966, page 102
  6. ^ "1927. Union Nationality & Flag Act". The O'Malley Archives. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  7. ^ "New flag". Glasgow Herald. 12 September 1968. Retrieved 24 November 2017. 
  8. ^ Vegter, Ivo (10 December 2013). "My old South African Flag". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  9. ^ "De Klerk Sworn In, Pledges S. African Reforms". Los Angeles Times. 21 September 1989. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 8 June 2018. 
  11. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 8 June 2018. 
  12. ^ a b "South African Police Service". www.crwflags.com. Retrieved 11 June 2018. 
  13. ^ "South Africa Women and Apartheid". Photius.com. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  14. ^ a b Gerhart, Gail (2010). From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882-1990. Indiana University Press. p. 516. ISBN 0253354226. 
  15. ^ Jungwirth, Craig (5 April 1985). "Police arrest nine in protest march". The Tech. Retrieved 10 May 2016. 
  16. ^ "African National Congress (ANC) supporters set a South African flag on fire 14 April 1993 during a commemoration service for South African Communist Party (SACP) chief Chris Hani". 
  17. ^ Buhlungu, Sakhela (1997). State of the Nation: South Africa 2007. A&C Black. p. 414. ISBN 0718500725. 
  18. ^ Black, David Ross (1998). Rugby and the South African Nation. Manchester University Press. p. 115. ISBN 0719049326. 
  19. ^ Larson, James (1995). Television in the Olympics. p. 228. ISBN 0861965388. 
  20. ^ a b "Fred Brownell: The man who made South Africa's flag". BBC News. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  21. ^ "Unity Flag Shows Its Colors". 27 April 1994. 
  22. ^ Antonio Coppola (24 May 2018). "Raising of the New South African Flag" – via YouTube. 
  23. ^ Van der Westhuizen, Christi (2007). White Power & the Rise and Fall of the National Party. Zebra Press. p. 326. ISBN 1770073051. 
  24. ^ "Old flag still legal". News24.com. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  25. ^ "South Africans supporting the white supremacist Afrikaner Resistance..." 
  26. ^ Josh Sanburn (18 June 2015). "Dylann Roof Wears Flag Linked to White Supremacy Groups". Time. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  27. ^ Nick Baumann. "Dylann Roof Had A Rhodesian Flag On His Jacket - Here's What That Tells Us". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  28. ^ Beech, Alexandra (5 August 2015). "South Africa's apartheid-era flag to keep flying at Cooma's Avenue of Flags: Mayor". ABC News. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  29. ^ "The Shadow Of The Oranje Blanje Blou At #BlackMonday". 7 November 2017. 
  30. ^ "King's statue vandalised". News24.com. 14 September 2005. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  31. ^ Kiva, Mpumi (13 March 2015). "'Why we fly old flag at our Cape home'". IOL. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  32. ^ "Row erupts over Castle flags". IOL. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  33. ^ "BBC NEWS - Africa - Apartheid flag gaffe sparks row". 6 January 2018. Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. 
  34. ^ "Ghana poster an 'embarrassment' to SA - General News". 10 February 2008. Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018. 

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