Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
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The Cape Province was split four ways: Eastern Cape, Western Cape and
Northern Cape are entirely land that belonged to the Cape Province before
1976, but North West Province was half-and-half: part old Cape Province, part
Transvaal. Another piece of the old Cape Province, Griqualand East, became
part of Natal in 1976 (having been cut off by Transkei), and is in dispute
between KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.
Mike Oettle, 11 Dec 2001
When the Cape Colony first became a province, the official languages
were English and Dutch, and the province's name in Dutch was Kaap Provincie
(in full Provincie Kaap de Goede Hoop). Under the Official Languages of
the Union Act of 1925, the definition of "Dutch language" in the Constitution
was extended to include Afrikaans. The province's name now became Provinsie
Kaap die Goeie Hoop (or Kaapprovinsie). Under the 1961 (republican) Constitution,
Dutch was omitted from the section dealing with language, which then mentioned only English and
Afrikaans. This was unaltered until the adoption of the 1994 interim Constitution,
under which the country then had 11 official languages. This was confirmed
in the 1996 Constitution.
Mike Oettle, 19 Dec 2001
The Union of South Africa was created on 31 May 1910 comprising the British
colonies of the Cape of Good Hope,
Natal, Orange River Colony and
Transvaal. Each colony became a province of South
Africa. None of the provinces of the
Union had an official flag and only the South African national flag was used.
The orange tree in the third quarter of the Arms of the Union (later Republic) of
South Africa represented the Orange Free State.
Bruce Berry, 31 May 1999
It has been stated that there was no Red Ensign for the Cape Colony. I have no way of checking this, but it’s quite possible that there was no authorised Cape Colony Red Ensign. On the other hand, one certainly did exist, and was known as the Railway Ensign because it was to be seen chiefly at stations of the Cape Government Railways (CGR). The roundel in the fly contained (as in the colony’s Blue Ensign) the full heraldic achievement of the Cape Colony, but in addition (if I recall correctly – it’s been some years since I saw an example of it) it contained further scrollwork. It was quite an elaborate badge.
This flag was then used as an example for a version of the South African Red Ensign that also seems to have had a railway provenance. I believe the CGR element that was taken up into the South African Railways and Harbours (SAR&H) organisation in 1913 must have continued ordering flags exactly like the “Railway Ensign”, but now with the South African arms – and again using the full achievement, instead of the shield only, as authorised by Royal Warrant.
The SAR&H was formed out of the CGR, the Natal Government Railways, the Cape Town Harbour Board, the Port Elizabeth Harbour Board, the East London Harbour Board and the Central South African Railways. (I’m not certain off-hand whether there was a Durban Harbour Board; if there was, it also would have been incorporated.) The Central South African Railways was a British civilian administration that took over from the Imperial Military Railways, set up following the invasion of the Boer republics to run the republican railway systems.
The South African “Railway Ensign” seems to have died a natural death when the new South African flag was taken into use in 1928.
Mike Oettle, 24 May 2002