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South African Flag Lesson for Kids: Colors & Meaning

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  • 0:04 Out With the Old, In…
  • 1:16 The Colors
  • 2:52 The Meaning
  • 3:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Did you know that the South African flag is one of the most colorful flags in the world? Come and learn about how this flag came to be, and explore the meaning of its colors and the symbolism behind its design.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Have you ever noticed that when you experience hard times, it makes you appreciate the good times even more? South Africa has certainly experienced its share of difficult times, which is why their country's flag is that much more special.

South Africa's current national flag didn't exist until 1994. Before that, South Africa was ruled by apartheid, a system their government used to enforce racial segregation. This meant that the black people in South Africa were treated poorly, while the white people had special rights and privileges. Their flag at the time became a symbol of the hateful apartheid. In fact, if the old South African flag is ever displayed, it is considered to be very offensive.

South African apartheid ended in 1994. Nelson Mandela was running for president, and he became the first black president of South Africa. As South Africa was celebrating its new beginnings, Nelson Mandela felt it was time to get a symbol for these new beginnings with a new flag and he called on a man named Frederick (Fred) Brownell to design it. The new flag was first flown on the day of the presidential election, which was the first multiracial election in South Africa in forty years.

The Colors

Did you know that the South African flag is one of the most colorful national flags in the world? It boasts six colors that are each prominent within the design: red, white, blue, black, yellow, and green. Like other national flags, the colors were selected for a particular purpose. The black, yellow and green represent the Pan-African Congress, which is Nelson Mandela's political party. The red, white, and blue represent other groups of people who are important to South Africans' history and culture: the Boer Republics and the European colonists. The Boer Republics were the Dutch settlers of South Africa, and the European colonists mostly came from the Netherlands and Great Britain, both of whose national flag's colors are red white and blue. While the country of South Africa does not officially state that each individual color has a meaning, many South Africans have interpreted them as follows:

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