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Transvaal (South Africa)

Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek

Last modified: 2015-08-29 by bruce berry
Keywords: transvaal | vierkleur | boer | zuid afrikaansche republiek |
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[Vierkleur flag of Transvaal] image by Antonio Martins, 02 Mar 1999

See also:

Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR)

Republic in the Transvaal, formed between 1857 and 1864. Horizontally red-white-blue with a vertical green stripe at the hoist (known as the "Vierkleur" or four colour) 1857-1902, except for 1874-75 when the Voortrekker flag, but with the saltire fimbriated white, was restored [car61, p.83].
Roy Stilling, 08 Oct 1996

When the ZAR as officially recognised by Britain in January 1852, it had neither arms or a flag of its own.  The flag which had been flown by the Voortrekkers  was the so-called "Voortreeker Flag" which was a red saltire on a blue field.  By resolution of the Volksraad approved on 18 February 1858, the flag of the ZAR was described as:
"It is resolved that a flag for the South African Republic shall be adopted, consisting of the following colours: Red, White and Blue, horizontal, each of equal width and placed one above another, and Green perpendicular next to the staff". 
This resolution contains the only formal description of the vierkleur  which was to be the national flag of the ZAR, apart from two short interruptions, until the end of the republic until 1902.

image by António Martins, 04 Jun 1999

In October 1874 the Volksraad adopted a new flag based on the "Voortrekker flag" for the ZAR, with the the red saltire being fimbriated in white.  However, the Volksraad later reversed its decision in May 1875 when President Burgers, who was not satisfied with the vierkleur flag, was away overseas! The new saltire flag was retained as the Presidential flag, but soon fell into abeyance as some felt it was too similar to the Union Jack.

The Vierkleur gave way to the Union Jack during the British annexation of the Transvaal between 12 April 1877 and 03 August 1881, following which the independence of the Transvaal was again formally recognised and the Vierkleur restored.  The ZAR came to an end following the Peace of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902 which signaled the end of the Anglo-Boer War and the ZAR once again came under British control as the Transvaal Colony

The flag of the ZAR was incorporated into the new South African flag in 1928 while its arms were retained as the provincial arms of the Transvaal in 1951.
Bruce Berry, 11 Nov 1997

This flag was registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry as the flag of the South African Republic for the Office of the Prime Minister together with the flag of the Republic of Orange Free State on 30 April 1983 (application 08 January 1982, amendment 05 March 1982). Certificates were issued for both in Afrikaans on 14 October 1983.

The text in English for the flag of the South African Republic reads as follows:
A rectangular flag proportions three by two, consisting of three horizontal stripes of equal width, from top to bottom red, white and blue and at the hoist a vertical green stripe one and one quarter the width of each of the other three stripes.
Source: "Some South African flags, 1940-1990" compiled by F.G. Brownell, South African State Herald [brl92].
Mark Sensen, 08 Mar 1999

The Vierkleur of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek was designed by Reverend Dirk van der Hoff and was hoisted for the first time in Potchefstroom on 06 January 1857.  It was officially accepted by the Volksraad (House of Assembly) as the flag of the ZAR on 18 February 1858.  Following the occupation by the British, the flag was removed but was  raised again on the Day of the Vow (Geloftedag) (16 December) in 1880 in Heidelberg. 

The Transvalers fought under this flag between 1899 and 1902 during the Anglo-Boer War.
Ernst Venter, 15 Nov 2006


Orange or Red?

Why did the Transvaal adopt the "new" Dutch colours (red-white-blue) whereas South Africa uses the "old" Dutch colours (orange-white-blue) for its flag?
Josh Fruhlinger, 15 Oct 1996

It might be because the independent Boer republics were trying to capitalise on their Dutch connections in the hope of getting support from there and elsewhere in Europe against the British. However, by the 1920s it was clear that for the time being they had to be resigned to the British connection. Instead more emphasis was put on the idea of the Afrikaners (a term and language which was then becoming preferred over the Dutch used in the 19th century) as a people belonging to and shaped by Africa, as much as by Europe, and the "Van Riebeek" orange-white-blue flag was said to be the first flag raised in South Africa itself.
Roy Stilling, 15 Oct 1996

Even the earliest republics (Graaff-Reinet and Swellendam, which were set up in 1795) adopted the new Dutch flag. The reason was that they saw themselves as being Dutch, but no longer belonging to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) which still flew the old orange-white-blue flag.
The Afrikaners (Boers) of the Great Trek who wished to escape the British colonial rule, adopted Dutch-inspired flag for their new republics for the same reason.
When the new (now old) South African flag was created, it was to unite the whites of South Africa - those Afrikaners whose forefathers left the Colony and set up independent republics (the small Orange Free State and ZAR flag), the Afrikaners whose forefathers stayed at the Cape (the orange-white-blue "Van Riebeeck flag") and the British settlers (the small Union Jack). I agree with Roy that the Van Riebeeck flag was used as dominating part because of its importance in South African history.
And don't forget that the flag was adopted under the rule of the Afrikaner JBM Hertzog.
Carsten Linke, 16 Oct 1996


Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek re-established

[War flag of South African Republic during the Boer War] image by Antonio Martins, 02 Mar 1999

In December 1880 rebellious Boers again declared a South African Republic, which re-established the "Vierkleur". This is the war flag of the former South African Republic (Transvaal), used during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).
Carsten Linke, 14 June 1996

Transvaal flag (or Vierkleur) is used by the Afrikaner Volksfront (Afrikaner People's Movement, AVF) as their Vryheidsflag (Freedom's flag), with an orange stripe replacing the red one.
Filip Van Laenen, 03 Oct 1996
 


The Vierkleur

The "vierkleur" (4 colour) design was first used by the Boer Republic of Land Goshen (Republiek van Land Goshen) between 1881-84 where the vertical stripe was green and the horizontal stripes were black, white and red.

This was followed by the New Republic (Nieuwe Republiek) between 1884-88 whose flag had a blue vertical stripe and red, white and green horizontal stripes. The Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR/Transvaal) flew the now traditional "vierkleur" of a green vertical stripe and red, white and blue horizontal stripes between 1858-1902.
Bruce Berry, 14 June 1996

The green in the flag stands for hope and youthfulness.
Mark Sensen, 03 Oct 1996

Thank you very much for the reaction. But actually I want to know something about the meaning of the flags and its colours? e.g. why three orange stripes at the OFS flag etc.?
Carsten Linke, 11 Oct 1996

The use of red, white and blue, and indeed of the unadulterated Dutch tricolour Boer flags needs no explanation, surely?
On specifics, Carr says the green stripe in the Transvaal vierkleur is supposed to represent "Young Holland" [p.83] (whether there was an actual movement by this name in 19th century South African and/or the Netherlands, or whether it was simply a reference to the nationalist ideal of groups like "Young Italy", I don't know).
Roy Stilling, 11 Oct 1996

I received a message from an Afrikaner who states that the green band on the flag represents how fruitful the Transvaal is. It was designed that way by a certain Dominee (Reverend) Dirk van der Hoff. The flag was hoisted for the first time at Potchefstroom.
Filip Van Laenen, 15 Oct 1996

The Vierkleur of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek was designed by Reverend Dirk van der Hoff and was hoisted for the first time in Potchefstroom on 06 January 1857.  It was officially accepted by the Volksraad (House of Assembly) as the flag of the ZAR on 18 February 1858.  Following the occupation by the British, the flag was removed but was  raised again on the Day of the Vow (Geloftedag) (16 December) in 1880 in Heidelberg. 

The Transvalers fought under this flag between 1899 and 1902 during the Anglo-Boer War.
Ernst Venter, 15 Nov 2006
 


Transvaal flag in the old SA flag

  image by Clay Moss, 07 Dec 2005

This flag was one of the three inserted in the white strip in South Africa's old flag. It is sometimes still used by pro-apartheid political movements.
Giuseppe Bottasini


Fancy Transvaal flag

[fancy Transvaal flag] sent by Olivier Touzeau, 15 Oct 2002

From a series of Cigarette Silks Iron-on Transfers, the subject of which is: Nation Animals & Flags, the fanciful flag of Transvaal.
Olivier Touzeau, 15 Oct 2002

The Transvaal certainly didn't use a hippopotamus as a symbol at any time, nor the flag illustrated. The illustrated flag looks like a banner of the arms of the ZAR.
Mike Oettle, 29 Feb 2008