South Africa�s Coat of Arms was launched on
Freedom Day, 27 April 2000. The change reflected the
government's aim to highlight the democratic change
in South Africa and a new sense of direction and
The Coat of Arms is a series of elements
organised in distinct symmetric egg-like or oval
shapes placed on top of one another. The completed
structure of the Coat of Arms combines the lower and
higher oval shape in a symbol of infinity.
path that connects the lower edge of the scroll,
through the lines of the tusks, with the horizon
above and the sun rising at the top, forms the shape
of the cosmic egg from which the Secretary Bird
rises. In the symbolic sense, this is the implied
rebirth of the spirit of a great and heroic nation.
The ears of wheat symbolise fertility and the
idea of germination, growth. It relates to the
nourishment of the people and signifies the
agricultural aspects of the Earth.
The elephant tusks symbolise wisdom, strength,
moderation and eternity.
The shield has a dual function as a vehicle for
the display of identity and of spiritual defence. It
contains the primary symbol of the nation.
human figures are derived from images on the Linton
stone, a world-famous example of South African rock
art, now housed and displayed in the South African
Museum in Cape Town. The Khoisan, the oldest known
inhabitants of South Africa and most probably of the
Earth, testify to a common humanity and heritage as
South Africans and as humanity in general. The
figures are depicted in an attitude of greeting,
symbolising unity. This also represents the
beginning of the individual�s transformation into
the greater sense of belonging to the nation and by
extension, collective humanity.
The spear and knobkierie are dual
symbols of defence and authority, they in
turn represent the powerful legs of the
Secretary Bird. The spear and knobkierie are
lying down, symbolising peace.
!Ke e: /Xarra //Ke
('Diverse people unite')
Written in the Khoisan language
of the /Xam people, the motto
literally means 'diverse people
unite'. It addresses each individual
effort to harness the unity between
thought and action. On a collective
scale it calls for the nation to
unite in a common sense of belonging
and national pride - unity in
is an emblem of the beauty of the land and
the flowering of a nation in pursuit of the
Protea symbolises the holistic
integration of forces that grow from the
Earth and are nurtured from above. The most
popular colours of Africa have been assigned
Protea � green, gold, red and black.
Secretary Bird is characterised in
flight, the natural consequence of growth
and speed. It is the equivalent of the lion
on land. A powerful bird whose legs -
depicted as the spear and knobkierie - serve
it well in its hunt for snakes, symbolising
protection of the nation against its
enemies. It is a messenger of the heavens
and conducts its grace upon the Earth. In
this sense it is a symbol of divine majesty.
Its uplifted wings are an emblem of the
ascendance of the nation, while
simultaneously offering its protection. It
is depicted in gold, which clearly
symbolises its association with the sun and
the highest power.
The rising sun symbolises the promise of
rebirth, the active faculties of reflection,
knowledge, good judgement and willpower. It
is the symbol of the source of life, of
light and the ultimate wholeness of