Choosing a new flag was part of the negotiation
process set in motion when
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 drawn up and presented to the
public and the Negotiating Council - but none
elicited enthusiastic support.
A number of design studios were contracted to
submit further proposals - again without success -
and Parliament went into recess at the end of 1993
without a suitable candidate for the new national
In February 1994, Cyril Ramaphosa and Roelf
Meyer, chief negotiators of the African National
Congress and the National Party government of the
day respectively, were tasked with resolving the
flag issue. A final design was adopted on 15 March
1994 - derived from a design developed by a former
South African State Herald, Mr Fred Brownell.
The proclamation of the new national flag was
only published on 20 April 1994 - seven days before
the flag was to be inaugurated on the 27th, sparking
a frantic last-minute flurry for flag manufacturers.
Writing in the foreword to "Flying with Pride",
Cyril Ramaphosa comments: "It was difficult to
imagine, back then in the days of negotiations, that
this assortment of shapes and colours we had before
us would become such a central part of defining and
identifying a new nation.
"As South Africans daily work to build a better
society, they are surrounded in many forms and
countless manifestations by a flag which recognises
and celebrates the unity and diversity of the
"Few would have imagined, almost a decade ago,
that this collection of colourful shapes could
become such a potent symbol of unity and progress.
But then fewer still would have thought that a
country torn apart by decades of racial oppression
could transform itself into a beacon of democracy
When the new flag was designed, it was
specifically stated that the colours had no
official meaning or symbolism, other than
their choice from their use in the past.
Three of the colours, black, green and
yellow, are colours commonly found in
African flags, including those of the
African National Congress (ANC).
Red, white and blue are colours commonly
found in European flags, including those of
the Netherlands and the United kingdom.
Protocol for displaying the flag
When the flag is displayed vertically
against a wall, the red band is to the left of the viewer with
the hoist or the cord seam at the top.
When it is displayed horizontally, the hoist is
to the left of the viewer and the red band at the
When the flag is displayed next to or behind the
speaker at a meeting, it is placed to the speaker's
When it is placed elsewhere in the meeting
place, it should be to the right of the audience.