Flag of South Africa
|Design||A horizontal bicolor of red and blue with a black isosceles triangle based on the hoist-side and a green pall, a central green band that splits into a horizontal Y, centered over the partition lines and was edged in both white against the red and the blue bands and gold against the triangle, in which the arms of the Y ends at the corners of the hoist and embraces the triangle on the hoist-side. |
The present South African national flag was first flown on 27 April 1994. However, the flag was first intended to be an interim flag only, and its design was decided upon at the very last minute, barely making it onto the nation's flagpoles in time for the election.
The choice of a new flag was part of the negotiation process set in motion when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. When a nationwide public competition was held in 1993, the National Symbols Commission received more than 7,000 designs. Six designs were shortlisted and presented to the public and the Negotiating Council, but none elicited enthusiastic support. A number of design studios were then contacted to submit further proposals, but these also did not find favour. Parliament went into recess at the end of 1993 without a suitable candidate for the new national flag.
In February 1994, Cyril Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer, the chief negotiators of the African National Congress and the National Party government of the day respectively, were given the task of resolving the flag issue. A final design was adopted on 15 March 1994, derived from a design developed by the State Herald Fred Brownell, who had also previously designed the Flag of Namibia. This interim flag was hoisted for the first time on the 27 April 1994, the day when the nation’s first fully inclusive elections commenced which resulted in Nelson Mandela being inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected president on 10 May 1994.
The proclamation of the new national flag by South African President F. W. de Klerk was only published on 20 April 1994, a mere seven days before the flag was to be inaugurated, sparking a frantic last-minute flurry for flag manufacturers. As stated in South Africa's post-apartheid interim constitution, the flag was to be introduced on an interim probationary period of five years, after which there would be discussion about whether or not to change the national flag in the final draft of the constitution. The Constitutional Assembly was charged with the responsibility of drafting the country’s new constitution and had called for submissions, inter alia, on the issues of its various national symbols. It received 118 submissions recommending the retention of the new flag and 35 suggesting changes to it. Thus on 28 September 1995 it decided that the flag should be retained unchanged and accordingly it was included as Section One of the Constitution of South Africa which came into force in February 1997. 
At the time of its adoption, the South African flag was the only national flag in the world to comprise six colours in its primary design. Three of the colours – black, green and yellow – are found in the banners of the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party – and are thus said to represent the country’s black population. The other three – red, white and blue – are displayed on the old Dutch tricolour and the British Union flag and represent the white population.
The green pall (the Y-shape) is commonly interpreted to mean the unification of the various ethnic groups and the moving forward into a new united South Africa. The design therefore represents a converging of paths, the merging of both the past and the present.