In 1993 a competition was held to design a new flag for South Africa in which 7000 designs were received by the National Symbols Commission. Interestingly 6 of the designs submitted were presented to the public and the Negotiating council but none recieved any support. Even after some design studios were contracted to design a flag, by the time Parliment went into recess at the end of 1993, there was still no new national flag!
In the end, an interim flag designed by Frederick Brownell was used for the 27 April 1994 elections as well as for Nelson Mandela’s 10 May inauguration, though it had only been proclomated on the 20th April 1994. Response to the flag design was once again mixed but in the the end was adopted as South Africa’s national flag.
The design incorporates a number of colors including black, blue green, yellow, red and white; and although individuals might attach personal significance to the colors, there was no intentional meaning attributed to the colors according to the government. The design does however represent a “coming together” of cultures.
The only significance to color is perhaps the ”chilli red’ as Anglo-Africans would have preferred ‘red’ and Afrikaners “orange” and so “chilli red” was settled on as a sort of compromise between the two.’
Schedule One of the Constitution of South Africa (1996) replaced the heraldic definition and described the flag in plain English as follows:
The national flag is rectangular; it is one and a half times as long as it is wide.
- It is black, gold, green, white, chilli red and blue.
- It has a green Y-shaped band that is one fifth as wide as the flag. The centre lines of the band start in the top and bottom corners next to the flag post, converge in the centre of the flag, and continue horizontally to the middle of the free edge.
- The green band is edged, above and below in white, and towards the flag post end, in gold. Each edging is one fifteenth as wide as the flag.
- The triangle next to the flag post is black.
- The upper horizontal band is chilli red and the lower horizontal band is blue. These bands are each one third as wide as the flag.