31/10/2017 11:59 SAST | Updated 01/11/2017 07:56 SAST

This Is What The Old Flag Represents

Before you pick up the symbol, be aware of what it stands for.


South African protestors were seen carrying the old South African flag at this week's 'Black Monday' march, which was organised to raise awareness about the alleged rise in farm murders in South Africa.

But many South Africans saw the march as highly offensive, not least because the old flag is widely considered a painful symbol of apartheid. Comparisons have been drawn between the orange, white and blue one and the Nazi flag, and there have been calls that displaying it should be made illegal.

But right-wing Afrikaners and their supporters argue that the flag is a symbol of their heritage.

So what, exactly, does the old so-called "Oranje, Blanje, Blou" flag represent?

Here's a brief history of the controversial symbol:

It was the official South African flag between 1928 -- the early days of the white-dominated regime -- and 1994.

Its design encapsulates the history of European colonialism in the country pre-1994:


  • The orange, white and blue stripes make visual reference to official colours of the Netherlands, which colonised the Cape around the turn of the 18th century.
  • Then there's a Union Jack that represents the country's time as a British colony from 1806 to 1910.
  • In the centre and on the right are the flags of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, independent sovereign republics until they were conquered by the British between 1899 and 1902.

But when South Africa became a republic in 1961, Afrikaners argued that they wanted the Union Jack removed from the flag -- a sentiment with which many of the country's extreme right-wingers still seem to agree.

In 1994, state herald Fred Brownell designed a new national flag in time for the first democratic elections. The new design combines elements of the official ANC flag with some of the old flag.

But after the old flag was retired, many Afrikaner nationalists adopted it as a symbol of their national identity.

Now, other supremacist groups around the world use the flag as a symbol for their race-based beliefs.

American Dylann Roof, who shot nine black people attending a church service in South Carolina, famously wore the flag on the day he shot the victims.

There have been calls to ban the display of the old flag.

The ANC said this week that the use of the old South African flag during Monday's #BlackMonday events was "arrogant" and "offensive".

Yet advocates of the old flag still argue that its use is important to their identity.

How do you feel? Have your say in our poll: