Talk:Flag of South Africa

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Former featured article Flag of South Africa is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on March 22, 2005.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
March 1, 2005 Featured article candidate Promoted
February 19, 2007 Featured article review Demoted
Current status: Former featured article


When the new flag was designed, it was specifically stated that the colours had no official meaning or symbolism, other than their choice from their use in the past. However, in recent times an unofficial consensus has been reached in terms of an accepted meaning for the flag and its colours.

  • The pall (Y) is stated to symbolise the convergence as one unified nation.
  • The red symbolises the blood shed in the country's various conflicts and wars.
  • The blue represents the sky and the two oceans that surround the country.
  • The green symbolises the farms and natural environment that are an essential part of South Africa.
  • The yellow stands for the natural resources of South Africa, particularly gold.
  • The black represents black South Africans - whilst doubling as a symbol of belonging with the rest of Africa
  • The white represents white South Africans - whilst doubling as a symbol of peace.

Despite the official denial of symbolism, three of the colours - black, green and yellow - are found in the flag of the African National Congress (ANC). The other three - red, white and blue - are used in the flag of the Netherlands and the flag of the United Kingdom; these colours were also found in the old flag of South Africa, although with orange instead of red. The flag could thus be interpreted as a display of unity between the two South African traditions. Red, yellow and green are also the Pan-African colours.

It is also said that the colours represent the three major political parties of South Africa, that is The ANC, the National Party and the Democratic Party.


Since I really don't have the time, nor the patience, to enter a possible long row of reverts and arguing different viewpoints the above is what my original edit was before it got reverted. I obviously picked a bad reference, which was the first somewhat decent one I hit by looking it up on Google

after I had checked some of the other Wikis. The Afrikaans Wiki already had the same text, just not as verbose. The same was and is the case with the Dutch, German, Spanish, and Swedish Wikis. I didn't check any other Wikis since I don't know those languages well enough. Thus I obviously didn't think it was that touchy a subject for me to edit, but I'll leave for others to argue and maybe come to an agreement about what, if anything, should and should not be entered. Laniala (talk) 14:20, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Flag ratio[edit]

The caption under the picture of the South African Flag states the ratio is 2:3, yet the picture is ratio 3:5. What's goin on here? Is the ratio incorrect or just the flag? SKC

Point of view[edit]

This article still incorporates biased points of view. To wit:

1. Apartheid's abolition in 1994 did NOT "make it necessary" for the flag to change. The flag was changed because a majority of people wanted it changed, but the article should eliminate faulty cause/effect clauses.

2. While the previous regime was widely seen as racist, the flag per se isn't necessarily offensive or "racist." There's no "swastika" or "death to black people" slogans on it. I'll grant that the flag may have been "unrepresentative," but then that's why it was changed. Too much political correctness is covering up history.

Any explanation as to what the various elements represent? --Corvus13

  • I believe there is no official meaning for the colours, although there are some things the colours are popularly taken to stand for (e.g. green for the land, black for the black people, white for the europeans). -- SJK
    • I remember an interview on television where they asked the creator what the colours meant, and he simply said that there was no significance to them whatsoever. ZyXoas 09:11, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Previous flag[edit]

If someone could create or find a public domain flag of the previous naional flag. adding it would be great. - fonzyvgrty

Union Jack[edit]

The union jack in the second flag on this page is upside-down. Was this an intentional part of the original flag, or just a mistake by whoever made the picture?

It's a deliberate part of the design. The miniature Union Jack is displayed as if the miniature Free State flag served as a flagpole. When the real flagpole is at the left of the entire flag, the effective flagpole used for the miniature Union Jack is to the right of the miniature Union Jack. This makes the miniature Union Jack look upside-down to the uninitiated. —AlanBarrett 15:55, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)
This was done to avoid giving the Union Flag of Britain more importance than the Vierkleur flags of the old Boer Republics.
The three flags in the middle were designed in such a way that no one flag seems more important than the other. The Union Jack, to the left (honour position) is upside down. The Free State flag in the middle is vertical, the Transvaal flag, furthest away from the pole, is the right way up.
I always thought that the design was intended so that whichever way the flag was being flown at least one of the flags in the middle would be the right way up —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:44, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Removing intro paragraphs[edit]

I removed a few paragraphs from the intro. While this seems like a big change, I carefully checked and these paragraphs were explained later in the article at roughly the same level of detail, perhaps a bit more. They were really just redundant — but I welcome any dissent. Deco 03:18, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Colour specifications[edit]

Does anyone know what system the "Textile colour" CKS codes refer to? None of the Category:Color space entries seems relevant, except Pantone which has a separate column. Also, does anyone have the missing Pantones for black and white? At a guess, "black c" and 'white c" :) Joestynes 09:34, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I agree it would be useful to have RGB equivalents. I don't think pantone PMS has a number for white or black... most people can just figure them out. :-P --jacobolus (t) 18:05, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The "CKS codes" are not from a colour system at all. They are in fact simply the reference numbers of samples of fabric kept by the SABS as reference material. They keep similar swatches for other official fabrics such a SANDF and Police uniforms, medal ribbons, etc. (They even have swatches of some school uniform colours and university graduation gown colours.) See [1]. There isn't a cite for the "alleged" pantone equivalents. Roger (talk) 13:08, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

The South African Gov't website lists "approximate Pantone equivalents" for the green, gold, red, and blue. (talk) 20:35, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

Proper display of the flag - nothing special[edit]

IMHO most (if not all) of the Proper display of the flag section should be removed or moved elsewhere. AFAIK rules described there (Respect for the flag, Traditional rules for handling the flag, Correct display of the flag, Showing the flag with other country's flags, Showing the flag with non-national flags, Showing the flag indoors, Parades and ceremonies, Half mast, Disposal) are universally accepted for all flags of the world - and it's also nothing special that South Africa has a law to cannonize them. Other countries have similar laws; nothing special about SA flag here. Illustrations are cool, though. Perhaps they can be moved somewhere appropriate; some subarticle of the flag comes to mind.--romanm (talk) 14:44, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I did rather like reading in the Respect for the flag section that it is not permitted to wear the flag as underclothes - particularly as the flag's design so closely resembles a pair of Y-fronts. 16:23, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

I once thought about dyeing a pair of my underpants to resemble the South African flag, I'm not exactly the new flags biggest fan (I've always though it looked a bit tacky, like something made on MS Paint) I know it's become associated with white supremacy, but the old one will always be the flag of South Africa to me-Ted Fox 06:41, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Distress, not Surrender

"The flag should never be depicted, displayed or flown upside down. Flying a flag upside down is the traditional sign of surrender."

While I can't be 100% certain, I'm sure the tradition of flying or displaying a flag upside down is a sign of distress (for whatever the flag represents, be it nation state, etc), and isn't as specific as signifying surrender. This tradition AFAIK is held almost worldwide. (Although of course a state of surrender would be a reason for someone to fly it in distress.)--Myfanwy 21:52, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Questionable revert[edit]

For some reason, PZFUN decided not only to revert my removal of the intro paragraphs, with an explanation that I don't really buy, but also all my other changes, right down to paragraphing fixes and correction of wording. Is this some kind of personal revenge against me, or just laziness? No justification was provided at all. Deco 17:45, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I apologise for removing the content, but I was trying to quickly change the intro paragraphs at a public comptuer station. Not revenge at all. I disliked your removal of the introparagraphs, but I did not have the time to discuss it, especially since I made my changes at 3 am my local time. Páll 02:24, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Okay, sorry if I was aggressive. I fixed them, and tried to briefen the intro somewhat, since it is described in more detail later. I hope it's alright now. Deco 05:57, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Isoceles or Equilateral?[edit]

Maybe I'm seeing things, but the flag looks like it has an equilateral black triangle (all sides being of the same length), not isoceles. At least, it's more correct to call it equilateral. --Doctorcherokee 00:01, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Though it's deceptively close, it is in fact isoceles. The diagram here and some scratch-paper trig indicate that the black triangle has side lengths proportionate to 1:0.9:0.9, whereas an equilateral triangle would be 1:1:1. This is due to the fact that the flag is presented in the (typical) height:width ratio of 2:3. If for some reason it was presented in a (somewhat bizarre) ratio of approximately 2:3.464, the triangle would in fact be equilateral. dkitchin 20:24, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
To be precise, the ratio of the triangle's sides is :: where ≈ 0.901 387 819. You can see the construction diagram here.
Urhixidur 03:22, 2005 Mar 26 (UTC)

vexillological symbol[edit]

Which vexillological symbol is correct for this flag? now we've got two of them listed.--jacobolus (t) 18:02, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Two flags unique?[edit]

"Thus, South Africa was the only country in the world to have two official national flags."

Prinsevlag / Princenvlag[edit]

The Afrikaans for Prince's Flag is Prinsevlag - Princenvlag is Dutch, and would not have been used in South Africa, certainly not after Afrikaans replaced Dutch as an official language.

Quiensabe 00:58 UTC Jul 1 2005

Old Flag[edit]

Isn't it illegal to fly the old flag, not just offensive? Joziboy 12:06, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

No. It may be poor taste but it is definitely not illegal. That would be a violation of the right to freedom of expression. Some venues and organisers of public events, such as SA Rugby and its afilliates, have rules refusing entry to the old flag to their properties, but that is a private matter and does not involve the state. Roger 09:22, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

merge from List of South African flags[edit]

There is substantial overlap between the two articles, I propose a merge. Chris 18:50, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Reject List of is part of a series which will hopefully include all countries. Astrotrain 09:18, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Astrotrain. Flag of South Africa is about the national flag, whereas List of flags of South Africa focuses mostly on subnational and government flags. (Military ensigns and the like.) Lovelac7 02:56, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

"Clean flag"[edit]

Anyone have a link to a picture of the 1960s proposed flag?

The one designed by H.C. Blatt, I mean. I can't, for the life of me, find it anywhere. Josh (talk) 08:22, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

Flag Adoption.[edit]

The opening paragraph is inaccurate as it states that the new flag was adopted after the first multi racial elections when in fact the fact was adopted before them or rather just before them on the day of the elections. The flag was adopted at midnight South African time when April 26 turned into April 27. I know this as I saw this event happen live on television in Canada just before 6:00 PM when the old flag was lowered during an official event & the new flag was raised.

Ron7 (talk) 19:22, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

appropriateness of an image[edit]

The flag flies at the SCG

I took this shot recently at the cricket, and quite liked it - the guys waving it were very friendly too! - I know flags generally can be quite sensitive issues, so I thought I'd drop this image in here for regular editors of this page to see if they thought it was worth a spot in the article? best, Privatemusings (talk) 01:25, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Do you have a wider shot perhaps showing the person/people waving it? I think the close cropping of this image is a bit wierd. It is a very nice crisp image though - well done! Roger (talk) 08:20, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
sadly not - I agree that would be better... still I do quite like it, and because there's no current image of an actual flag in the article, I've put it in at what I hope is a suitable spot... this could quite likely be improved upon (or removed entirely), and anyone should feel free to do so... :-) Privatemusings (talk) 00:15, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Symbolism again[edit]

I think we should rewrite the symbolism section and base its contents on citable references. I myself have added to it and had my edits removed because the facts were unpopular, and I don't mind -- it is not my article, after all. But currently what is written in the article is pure fantasy that is retain (AFAIK) simply because it is what the alt-langs all have in their articles about the flag.

So let's get some facts about the symbolism.

  • According to Education Minister Naledi Pandor, the national flag does have symbolism. [2] However it is possible that she just meant that the flag symbolises South Africa. According to Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, in the same article, the flag represents the "convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity". According to [3] about the same event, it was Pallo Jordan who said that the flag had symbolism.
  • According to [4], the design and colours are a synopsis of principal elements of the country's flag history (in other words, it is made up of previous flags' colours), individual colours, or colour combinations represent different meanings for different people and therefore no universal symbolism should be attached to any of the colours (in other words, there is no official symbolism), and the Y can be interpreted as the convergence of diverse elements within South African society, taking the road ahead in unity.
  • The MSUNDUZI municipality published this one: [5] but states that it is not official and THE MEANING[s] ... AS OUTLINED ABOVE ARE NOT OFFICIAL, ALTHOUGH THEY ARE ACCEPTED AS SUCH IN SOME QUARTERS.
I must add that this item is a user file on the municipality's file server and is not in any way official. -- leuce (talk) 22:42, 17 April 2009 (UTC)
  • KZN Health department published this one: [6] and makes no attempt to warn readers that it is an unofficial interpretation.
I must add that this item seems to be an inhouse newsletter and not an official publication of the health department. -- leuce (talk) 22:42, 17 April 2009 (UTC)
  • The KZN Premier also attacheed symbolism to the flag here: [7] although in his defence he does not try to crate the impression that his interpretation is an official or accepted interpretation -- he says the colours "remind us of" this and that.

Despite trying various search terms I was unable to find other meanings attributed to the flag's colours specifically, particularly in the and domains. I could find no colour-based symbolism articles in any South African newspaper.

There has been negative comments about the flag in the press and on blogs, but everytime these are added to the article (cited or not) they are removed again, so I think we should make peace with the fact that "happy thoughts only"-ists will always come and edit South African related articles.

By the way, the Southern African Vexillological Association published a guide on the correct usage of the flag. Interesting stuff: [8]

-- leuce (talk) 22:19, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

Proper display of flag, again[edit]

There are two oft quoted sources for the proper display of the South African flag. The one is the official guidelines published in the Government Gazette (GG) [9] and the other is the guide published by SAVA (Southern African Vexillological Association) [10].

Some points:

  • I find no indication that SAVA is a government body.
  • SAVA has no web site itself and the guide is published in various locations on other organisations' web sites (eg the Tourism Board, as linked above).
  • SAVA's guide differs from the official guidelines in a number of respects -- I wonder if SAVA's views aren't possibly a combination of the GG guidelines and guidelines commonly accepted by worldwide vexillologists. For example, the SAVA guide mentions underwear and advertising, but the GG guidelines make no mention of it.
  • Large sections of the GG guidelines, most of which are quoted or contained in the SAVA guide, apply only to officially designated flag stations and not to all public interaction with the flag. The GG guidelines contain a schedule with a list of such flag stations.
  • I'm not sure if the entire GG guidelines are only for designated flag stations -- the wording is unclear and I'm no legal expert. It certainly is a possibility.
  • SAVA guide mentions "Regulations Regarding the Flying of the National Flag" but I find no references to it other than quotes from the SAVA guide. Apparantly these regulations were published in 1994. The GG reference above was published in June 2001. It is remarkable that SAVA's guide was published in 2002 [11] yet claims to have been based on a 1994 government publication, with no mention of the official 2001 publication whatsoever.

I have no objection to a section on proper display, but I think we should be careful to let Wikipedia perpetuate a set of guidelines that do not really apply to everyone. -- leuce (talk) 23:34, 17 April 2009 (UTC)


It says the flag should never be used to start or finish a competition. How about competitions in which it's usual to start with a national flag? F.x. ski jumpers normally get "start" command by a national flag wink... Do South Africans use something different in such cases?--Alexmagnus2 (talk) 22:33, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Can't say for sure, but I would suspect that it refers more to waving it at the start of a grand prix or drag race. They don't wave it in front of the ski jumpers when they start, do they? — Gk sa (talk) 15:56, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

Only flag with 6 colours[edit]

I removed this bit of trivia: " The South African flag is the only national flag in the world with six colours and without a seal or brocade. " I checked this and it seems to be correct, but is it significant information or just trivia? -- leuce (talk) 14:36, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

An encyclopedia consists of both trivium and quadrivium. walk victor falk talk 12:43, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Featured article review[edit]

This article was demoted during a Featured article review in 2007. Has it improved since then? It appears that the main issue was a shortage of inline citations (Featured article criteria #1(c)). I would be helpful if those responsible for writing certain sections could use the <ref name=xxxxxx/> format to cite their sources at every statement they were used for. I see that some books are also cited, but no inline. Did these contribute to the article? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gk sa (talkcontribs) 15:52, 24 April 2011 (UTC)


I have reverted Dodger67's inclusion of the air force ensign in the infobox. There are several ensigns for South Africa, of the combined SANDF, the Navy, the Air Force, the Health Service, the Police, the Prison service, it makes no sense for just the Air Force to be included. The ensigns of South Africa are available on List of South African flags, this is in keeping with many other flag articles. Fry1989 eh? 02:25, 29 March 2013 (UTC)


regarding the blazon in the opening section, I really don't see how a citation is needed as it's just a description of the flag using blazon terminology as is standard for flags, coat of arms and similar designs. The source is simply the flag itself. Yes, the language is very jargon-y, but all the terms likely to be unfamiliar to an average reader have links to the relevant articles. -- (talk) 19:29, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

On second thoughts I will be removing the blazon. The sourced plain English description further down the page is sufficient (although not nearly as elegant!). I think my love of heraldry got the better of me. -- (talk) 19:45, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

History of flag's design[edit]

Here is a good BBC account of the development of the flag Fred Brownell: The man who made South Africa's flag Onanoff (talk) 13:58, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

Construction sheets[edit]

Government Notice #510 gives the following specifications on the flag of South Africa:

The National Flag shall be rectangular in the proportion of two in the width to three in the length; per pall from the hoist, the upper band chili red and the lower band blue, with a black triangle at the hoist, over the partition lines a green pall one fifth the width of the flag, fimbriated white against the chili red and blue, and gold against the black triangle at the hoist; the width of the pall and its fimbriations is one third the width of the flag.

The construction sheet added by Dodger67 is consistent with this (other than that the law does not specify the diagonal arms of the pall should be parallel to the diagonals of the flag field). All vertex coordinates can be geometrically derived from this sheet; while I haven't done that, it's highly unlikely they are all rational numbers as Warrior Of Light's/Tohaomg's file implies. SiBr4 (talk) 11:28, 29 December 2014 (UTC)

Note that the legally-effective specification of the flag design is that in Schedule 1 of the Constitution:
  1. The national flag is rectangular; it is one and a half times longer than it is wide.
  2. It is black, gold, green, white, chilli red and blue.
  3. It has a green Y-shaped band that is one fifth as wide as the flag. The centre lines of the band start in the top and bottom corners next to the flag post, converge in the centre of the flag, and continue horizontally to the middle of the free edge.
  4. The green band is edged, above and below in white, and towards the flag post end, in gold. Each edging is one fifteenth as wide as the flag.
  5. The triangle next to the flag post is black.
  6. The upper horizontal band is chilli red and the lower horizontal band is blue. These bands are each one third as wide as the flag.
I can also confirm that the numbers in File:South Africa flag construction sheet.png are rounded figures, since I had to calculate them in the past to draw up File:Diagram of the Flag of South Africa.svg and many involve the square root of 13. - htonl (talk) 13:22, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
I would add that both construction diagrams are accurate, they are simply depicting different things; one shows the specification of the flag, while the other shows the result of reducing that specification to x-y coordinates. Personally I am inclined towards using the former. - htonl (talk) 13:28, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
Having calculated the actual vertex positions, the numbers in Warrior of Light's sheet, while not exact, are actually pretty good approximations, as all coordinates differ less than 0.15 units from integers with a flag height of 300. I wouldn't oppose it being re-added to the article if it is made clear it shows approximated coordinates rather than officially specified ones. SiBr4 (talk) 14:24, 29 December 2014 (UTC)

Flag of South Africa (1928–1994) AFD[edit]

Flag of South Africa (1928–1994) has been nominated for deletion at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Flag of South Africa (1928–1994), with the intended result that any new comment be merged to this article. Thanks. - BilCat (talk) 19:24, 9 March 2016 (UTC)

Copyright note on inclusion of text from Bruce Berry[edit]

Anthere has incorporated substantial text received by email from Bruce Berry, and noted such in the edit summaries (see diffs between Special:Diff/713672067/715886407). As an OTRS agent, I confirm that Ticket:2016032210006686 archives his license of that text under the Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Storkk (talk) 12:32, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

Now also under cc-by-sa-3.0. Storkk (talk) 08:52, 3 May 2016 (UTC)

Notice of South Africa Red Ensign AfD[edit]

A new page related to this article, South Africa Red Ensign, has been nominated via AfD. Ibadibam (talk) 17:59, 7 September 2016 (UTC)