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South Africa -Proposals for New Flags

Last modified: 2005-08-26 by bruce berry
Keywords: south africa | proposals | contest | competition | ramlukan (lalsingh) | natal witness |
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When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 the question of a national flag was not discussed. There was a flag competition with some 250 entries, but for the time being a British Red ensign with a shield in the fly from the coat-of-arms was used. This flag never became popular, and was rarely seen. Over the Union's government offices abroad the Blue ensign was flown.

In the early 1920s the Nationalists started to call for a national flag. In September/October 1924 The Sunday Times held a public competition. Out of thousands of entries the first prize was awarded to Mr. G.E. Remington of Johannesburg. His design consisted of green and yellow stripes to symbolize the four provinces.

The 'Walker' flag (1926)

[The 'Walker' flag] by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

In 1925 the government invited the public to send flag designs, some 3000 were received by February 1926. The appointed Select Committee failed to agree on a flag, mostly because the government parties wanted a 'clean flag', and the SAP (South African Party) wanted the Union Jack included (and the old flags of the Boer republics). The majority favoured the proposal submitted by historian Prof. Eric Walker. This so called 'Walker flag' consisted of a vertical red stripe at the hoist (for the Cape), and three horizontal stripes: green (for Transvaal), yellow (to replace the unheraldic orange for the Orange Free State) and blue (for Natal). Although a clean flag, it looked very much like the Transvaal Vierkleur and so did not find much popular favour.

The 'Cross flags' (1927)

[The 'White Cross flag'] by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

[The Red Cross flag] by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

[The Cross flag] by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

In 1927 the Flag Commission appointed by the government approved three designs. At first Design number 1 (orange over blue with a white cross) was favoured, but later Design number 2 (green with a St. George's cross fimbriated white) was put forward. This became known as the 'Red Cross flag'.

Flag Committee proposals (1927)

[Flag Committee proposal #1]  by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

[Flag Committee proposal #2]  by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

[Flag Committee proposal #3  by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

The opposition insisted on a prominent place for the Union Jack, and during the Flag Conference with the Flag Commission in Cape Town, April/May 1927, the Flag Committee suggested three designs.

SAP proposal (1927)

[SAP proposal] by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

In June 1927 the SAP proposed a flag divided quarterly by a white cross, in the top hoist the Union Jack, in the top fly the old Free State flag, in the lower hoist the old Transvaal flag, and in the lower fly a springbok on a blue field.

'Shield flag' (1927)

['shield flag'] by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

Now the government came up with a design with in the center of the 'Van Riebeeck flag' (horizontal orange-white-blue) within  a blue bordure and a white inner bordure a shield divided quarterly containing the Union Jack, the Free State Vierkleur, the Transvaal Vierkleur, and four white stars on a blue shield. This so called 'Shield flag' design was passed in the House of Assembly.

Senate flag (1927)

[Senate flag] by Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

The Senate however didn't pass or reject this flag, but changed the design to "quarterly of four, party per cross argent: (1) Union Jack, (2) Old Orange Free State flag, (3) Old Transvaal Vierkleur, (4) Azure, four stars argent". The House of Assembly rejected this amendment.

Finally in October both sides agreed to adopt the 'Van Riebeeck flag' with the Union Jack and the republican flag placed in a irregular cross, and this flag passed both the House of Assembly and the Senate.
Harry Saker, 'The South African flag controversy 1925-1928', Cape Town, 1980. [skr80]
C. Pama, 'Lions and virgins; heraldic state symbols, coats-of-arms, flags, seals and other symbols of authority in South Africa, 1487-1962', Cape Town-Pretoria, 1965. [pam65]
C. Pama, 'Die Unievlag; sy oorsprong, betekenis en gebruik', Kaapstad-Bloemfontein-Johannesburg, 1957. [pam57]
Mark Sensen, 23 Mar 2000

1927 Competition

In William Crampton's World of Flags (Studio: London, 1990; ISBN 1 85170 426 4), page 155 on "Flag Competitions" displays "A selection of the public submissions for a design competition organized for the design of a new South African flag, before the present design was accepted in 1927."
It's a panel of 46 proposals from which I giffed 3 for the Weird Union Jack collection.
Some of these proposals are very interesting and beautiful -- others are not...
Antonio Martins, 16 April 1997

[South Africa - proposal 1927] by Antonio Martins, 16 April 1997

An "Orange ensign" - a Union Flag in the canton of a horizontal hexaband (?) orange-white-orange-white-orange-white.

[South Africa - proposal 1927] by Antonio Martins, 16 April 1997

A chequered ensign - with a Union Flag in the canton of a 8x6 chess board of orange and green (the Union Flag obviously, is superimposed to the upper left 4x3 squares).

[South Africa - proposal 1927] by Antonio Martins, 16 April 1997

Once again a Union Flag canton with a Dutch tricolour in the upper fly, and a white-orange-white triband in the lower half. The remaining green from the Transvaal flag is 1/2 x 1/2 in the lower hoist. The meanings of these proposals are quite straightforward. I've reduced all these "weird Union Jack" designs to 1:2 (with 1/2 x 1 canton when possible), some original seem to have other proportions or are waved or un-measurable.
Antonio Martins, 16 April 1997


[South Africa - proposal 1992] by Jaume Ollé,

Several unofficial flags bear the dove of peace. One of them the proposed flag for the new South Africa that won the contest of the Natal Witness, 22 August 1992, designed by Lalsingh Ramlukan