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Last modified: 2005-10-08 by bruce berry
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by Mark Sensen
Explanation of Damara's flag
The proposed flag for Damaraland differs from those of Ovambo,
and Caprivi in that it was designed by the South African Bureau of Heraldry.
A request to design arms and a flag was made to the South African State
Herald on 2 May 1979. With the request were rough designs and some background
information on Damaraland, pointing out that it was essentially a stony
semi-desert area with low rainfall. Furthermore, agriculture revolved mainly
around cattle, goats and karakul sheep. It was also pointed out that the
Damara consist of eight tribes. No mention was made of the 1864 flag and
neither was the Bureau of Heraldry then aware that such a flag had existed.
On the strength of the information received, the State Herald devised draft
arms and a draft flag based on the shield of the arms. The official description
of the flag was as follows:
Quarterly per Scandinavian cross, white and brown, the intersection
surmounted by a pale raguly of eight, counterchanged, the projections opposite
In essence a pale raguly was suggested in the shield of the arms to
represent the Damara, with the eight projections representing each of the
eight tribes. Although the colour brown is not often encountered in heraldry,
in this case it was suggested to represent both the arid countryside and
the Damara's links with nature.
In October 1979 the State Herald was informed that the draft designs
had been accepted by the Damara Representative Authority. However, neither
the arms nor the flag were taken into official use because of opposition
from certain members in the Legislative Council. The arms were nevertheless
incorporated in the Council's mace, while the flag was flown as a unifying
symbol at Damara festivals, though not as an official flag.
The matter was overtaken by constitutional changes which occurred in
South West Africa /Namibia on 31 May 1980. In terms of Proclamation AG.8,
certain provisions of the South West Africa Constitution (1968) were repealed.
This brought to an end the existing "homeland" administrative structures
in the territory and integrated central government for the whole territory
now fell directly under the Administrator-General. This proclamation also
made provision for second-tier administrations to be created for the eleven
ethnic groups (the [Rehoboth] Basters; the Bushmen; the Caprivians; the
Coloureds; the Damaras; the Hereros; the Kavangos; the Namas; the Ovambos;
the Tswanas; and the Whites).
These representative authorities largely succeeded the former "homeland"
administrations. The white population now became in effect a "white tribe"
with its own representative authority similar to the other ethnic groups.
The arms and flags of the former "homelands" continued in use, while the
administration for whites largely appropriated for itself the arms which
had been registered for the Territory as a whole.
This situation prevailed until the implementation of United Nations
Resolution 435 on 1 April 1989, prior to elections and the independence
of Namibia on 21 March 1990.
Bruce Berry, 25 November 1998