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Transvaal (South Africa)

Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek

Last modified: 2004-06-05 by bruce berry
Keywords: transvaal | vierkleur | boer | zuid afrikaansche republiek |
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[Vierkleur flag of Transvaal] by Antonio Martins, 2 Mar 1999 See also:

Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR)

Republic in the Transvaal, formed between 1857 and 1864. Horizontally red-white-blue with a vertical green stripe at the hoist (known as the "Vierkleur" or four colour) 1857-1902, except for 1874-75 when the Voortrekker flag, but with the saltire fimbriated white, was restored [car61, p.83]
Roy Stilling, 8 Oct 1996

This flag was registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry as the flag of the South African Republic for the Office of the Prime Minister together with the flag of the Republic of Orange Free State on 30 April 1983 (application 8 January 1982, amendment 5 March 1982). Certificates were issued for both in Afrikaans on 14 October 1983.
The text in English for the flag of the South African Republic reads as follows:
A rectangular flag proportions three by two, consisting of three horizontal stripes of equal width, from top to bottom red, white and blue and at the hoist a vertical green stripe one and one quarter the width of each of the other three stripes.
(Note: this means the green stripe in the GIF should be {216/3}*1.25=90 pixels wide!)
Source: "Some South African flags, 1940-1990" compiled by F.G. Brownell, the State Herald, june 1991.
Mark Sensen, 8 Mar 1999

Orange or Red?

Why did the Transvaal adopt the "new" Dutch colours (red-white-blue) whereas South Africa uses the "old" Dutch colours (orange-white-blue) for its flag?
Josh Fruhlinger, 15 Oct 1996

It might be because the independent Boer republics were trying to capitalise on their Dutch connections in the hope of getting support from there and elsewhere in Europe against the British. However, by the 1920s it was clear that for the time being they had to be resigned to the British connection. Instead more emphasis was put on the idea of the Afrikaners (a term and language which was then becoming preferred over the Dutch used in the 19th century) as a people belonging to and shaped by Africa, as much as by Europe, and the "Van Riebeek" orange-white-blue flag was said to be the first flag raised in South Africa itself.
Roy Stilling, 15 Oct 1996

Even the earliest republics (Graaff-Reinet and Swellendam, which were set up in 1795) adopted the new Dutch flag. The reason was that they saw themselves as being Dutch, but no longer belonging to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) which still flew the old orange-white-blue flag.
The Afrikaners (Boers) of the Great Trek who wished to escape the British colonial rule, adopted Dutch-inspired flag for their new republics for the same reason.
When the new (now old) South African flag was created, it was to unite the whites of South Africa - those Afrikaners whose forefathers left the Colony and set up independent republics (the small Orange Free State and ZAR flag), the Afrikaners whose forefathers stayed at the Cape (the orange-white-blue "Van Riebeeck flag") and the British settlers (the small Union Jack). I agree with Roy that the Van Riebeeck flag was used as dominating part because of its importance in South African history.
And don't forget that the flag was adopted under the rule of the Afrikaner JBM Hertzog.
Carsten Linke, 16 Oct 1996

Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek re-established

[War flag of South African Republic during the Boer War] by Antonio Martins, 2 Mar 1999

In December 1880 rebellious Boers again declared a South African Republic, which re-established the "Vierkleur". This is the war flag of the former South African Republic (Transvaal), used during the Boer War.
Carsten Linke, 14 June 1996

Transvaal flag (or Vierkleur) is used by the Afrikaner Volksfront (Afrikaner People's Movement, AVF) as their Vryheidsflag (Freedom's flag), with an orange stripe replacing the red one.
Filip Van Laenen, 3 Oct 1996

The Vierkleur

The "vierkleur" (4 colour) design was first used by the Boer Republic of Land Goshen (Republiek van Land Goshen) between 1881-84 where the vertical stripe was green and the horizontal stripes were black, white and red.
This was followed by the New Republic (Nieuwe Republiek) between 1884-88 whose flag had a blue vertical stripe and red, white and green horizontal stripes. The Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR/Transvaal) flew the now traditional "vierkleur" of a green vertical stripe and red, white and blue horizontal stripes between 1858-1902.
Bruce Berry, 14 June 1996

The green in the flag stands for hope and youthfulness.
Mark Sensen, 3 Oct 1996

Thank you very much for the reaction. But actually I want to know something about the meaning of the flags and its colours? e.g. why three orange stripes at the OFS flag etc.?
Carsten Linke, 11 Oct 1996

The use of red, white and blue, and indeed of the unadulterated Dutch tricolour Boer flags needs no explanation, surely?
On specifics, Carr says the green stripe in the Transvaal vierkleur is supposed to represent "Young Holland" [p.83] (whether there was an actual movement by this name in 19th century South African and/or the Netherlands, or whether it was simply a referrence to the nationalist ideal of groups like "Young Italy", I don't know).
Roy Stilling, 11 Oct 1996

I received a message from an Afrikaner who states that the green band on the flag represents how fruitful Transvaal is. It was designed that way by a certain Dominee (Reverend) Dirk van der Hoff. The flag was hoisted for the first time at Potchefstroom.
Filip Van Laenen, 15 Oct 1996

Transvaal flag in the old SA one

This flag was one of the three inserted in the white strip in South Africa's old flag. It is sometimes used by pro-apartheid white movements.
Giuseppe Bottasini