On April 27, 1994, South Africa held its first inclusive elections, marking the end of apartheid. On this this day, the current flag was first officially flown. It was officially declared the national flag by the 1996 Constitution. The flag of South Africa is the only one in the world with 6 individual colors, which are: red, black, yellow, blue, white, and green. The design of this flag consists of a horizontal “Y” shape, which is green in color. On the left side is a yellow-outlined, black-colored triangle shape created by the “Y”. The remaining sides of the “Y” shape are outlined in white. The space at the top of the flag is red and at the bottom is blue.

What Do the Flag's Colors and Symbols Mean?

The colors of the South African flag are meant to represent the diversity in the population here. The green color, for example, is often believed to represent the Muslim population. The African National Congress political party is said to be represented by the black, green, and yellow colors. The red, blue, and white is representative of the British flag, and therefore stands for the British and Afrikaners populations. Additionally, the Zulu ethnic group is represented by the black, yellow, green, red, and white. The “Y” design is meant to symbolize many different stories, people, and politics coming together as one.

Who Designed the Flag?

The South African flag was designed by Frederick Brownell, the previous State Herald for the country. In February of 1994, he was required to design the flag in only a week’s time. This demand came after the government had already reviewed public submissions and ideas from professional designers. The idea was to have a new flag for the first post-apartheid elections. In a BBC interview in 2014, Brownell said he designed the new flag with unity in mind.

What Have Historical Versions of the Flag Looked Like?

Between 1910 and 1928, South Africa (then the Union of South Africa) used a red flag with a small version of the British flag in the top left corner. In the middle of the right half of the flag, the coat of arms was situated. A blue version of this same flag was used to represent the country internationally during the same time period. Between 1928 and 1994, the South African flag was a horizontally striped tricolor. From top to bottom, the equally measured stripes of this flag were orange, white, and blue. Three flags were situated in the center of the white band. Each flag represented the British colonies that were joined to form South Africa: the South African Republic, the Orange Free State, and the British colonies (Natal and Cape Colony).

This page was last modified on February 7th, 2018