10 Interesting Facts about the South African Flag

  1. The current flag only became the official flag of South Africa in 1994

Between 1928 and 1994, the South African flag was based on the original Dutch flag, which Afrikaans speakers called the Prinsenvlag (‘Prince’s flag’).

The South African flag we all know today was designed in the run-up to the 1994 general election, which Nelson Mandela won.

  1. There are six colors on the South African flag

The South African flag comprises six colors: black, yellow, green, red, white, and blue.

While there is much debate about what these colors represent, the South African government states that “no universal symbolism should be attached to any of the colors.”

Due to the colorful nature of the South African flag, its nicknames include the Rainbow Flag and the Seskleur (‘Six Colors’). It has many more, too, which you’ll learn about in a few minutes!

  1. Black, yellow and green were the first colors of the new flag

Black, yellow and green were the first colors to be added to the current South African Flag, as they were also used on the flags of some South African liberation movements.

The red, white, and blue come second since they represent the colors of the old Transvaal colony and

  1. The shape of the flag has symbolic meaning too

The shape of the South African flag’s pattern is quite distinct since the sideways ‘Y’ formation of its stripes is unique. The ‘Y’ formation brings two separate lines together into one.

Look at this PowerPoint to learn about the other National Symbols of South Africa.

  1. This was not meant to be a permanent flag for South Africa

It was decided that South Africa needed to be represented by a new flag after the country had reformed into a democracy and shaken off its colonial past.

The current flag was made with one week’s notice to serve as a temporary one in 1994 for the interim government before the election. However, a new flag was never made to replace it, and it has remained the official flag of South Africa ever since.

  1. South Africans must follow certain rules when using the flag

There are a few etiquette rules regarding using the South African flag that South Africans are expected to follow. This is to ensure that they avoid any signs of disrespect towards the flag and, therefore, the nation and its people.

Some of these rules include not using the flag as a tablecloth and making sure the flag doesn’t touch the ground. It should also be the first flag to be raised and the last to be lowered if it is presented with other national flags.

  1. The flag broke records

When the South African flag was created, it was the only national flag in the world to include six different colors in its design. Multiple nations have since surpassed this record.

  1. The nation’s motto inspired the design

When the flag was designed, the motto of the previous Coat of Arms of South Africa was taken as the primary inspiration. This motto is “Unity is Strength.” This can be interpreted quite clearly from the converging ‘Y’ formation.

  1. Nelson Mandela approved the final design of the flag

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the discussion of creating a new South African Flag began. After three years, it was decided that there should be a public competition to submit flag designs.

None of the public designs were particularly successful, and none were chosen. However, the State Herald Fred Brownell was eventually chosen to design the flag in 1994. Nelson Mandela was the one to approve this design, and the flag was also used at Mandela’s inauguration in May of the same year.

If you’re looking for a resource to help you teach your class about Nelson Mandela, take a look at this wonderful PowerPoint, all about Nelson Mandela’s life.

  1. The flag has no name, but lots of nicknames

Although the current South African flag has no official name, it has been given many different nicknames by South Africans. These include the “Unity Flag,” the “Southern Union,” the “Mandela Flag,” “Rainbow Salad,” and many more.

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