The call by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to have the old SA flag banned, won’t put food on the table for South Africans. Neither will this grandstanding lower unemployment rates. So who cares whether the flag is banned or not?
Moreover, the allegation by the SAHRC that the old SA flag was an apartheid flag, is incorrect. The old flag was adopted in 1928, some 20 years before Apartheid was legislated by the National Party in 1948. Against the background of the Dutch Prince’s flag, of light blue, white and orange colours (also known as Oranje, Blanje, Blou), the flag incorporated the Union Jack (the British flag), the flag of the Orange Free State and the flag of the Republic of South Africa in the middle.
Before the Oranje, Blanje, Blou Dutch flag was adopted as part of the old SA flag, the British Union Jack had been the official flag used by the Union of South Africa, which was a colony of the British Empire.
When the National Party came to power in 1948, they tried to remove the British Union Jack from the South African flag, which they called a ‘blood stain’ on the flag, – a reference to British killing Afrikaners during the Anglo Boer Wars. Their preference was to retain only the Dutch flag.
Rather, the old flag is a symbol of all conquerors (colonial or otherwise) vying to have their identity imposed on the SA flag.
It’s a norm that new rulers and conquerors enforce their identity on their ‘subjects’, as it happened before when the British imposed their Union Jack on the SA flag. The National Party did the same by incorporating the Oranje, Blanje, Blou of the Dutch flag. The ANC repeated the pattern using their colours – black, green and yellow (as well as the blue, white and red colours from the Orange Free State flag) in the new SA flag.
The call of the SAHRC for the outright banning of the old flag, will be against Chapter 2 of our Constitution, which contains the bill of rights that protects the civil, political and social economic rights of all people. More than anything, the old flag is just a part of history, whether good or bad. Banning it won’t make South Africa a better place for all its people, nor bring the much needed employment for those who are struggling to make ends meet.
SAHRC should rather be in the forefront of fighting corruption, poverty and disease that plague our people.
SAHRC where are your priorities?
By Lawrence Lolo Letsoalo