Saturday, February 26, 2011

Anniversary of the Orange Free State Flag.

The anniversary of the Orange Free State flag was a few days ago & a few months ago I found the best picture of it online. The flag in the picture is slightly incorrect as there is supposed to be another white stripe / bar. The Orange Free State Republic flag was designed 155 years ago & was adopted on February 23 1857 on the third anniversary of the Orange Free State Republic.

Note to first time learners: the Orange Free State was a Boer Republic established between the Orange & Vaal Rivers in southern Africa [ today known as the Free State Province of the Republic of South Africa ] on February 23 1854 as a result of the Orange River Convention. The northern portion of the Orange Free State was where the Winburg Republic [ which used a red saltire on a blue background as a flag ] was located which was established by Hendrik Potgieter & his followers during the era of the Great Trek. The Orange Free State Republic flag is said to have been loosely modeled on the design of the United States of America flag. The red / white & blue horizontal tri colour in the canton was the first Boer Republican flag ever adopted as it was the flag adopted for the short lived Graaff-Reinet Republic of 1795 - 1796 as well as the flag of the even shorter lived Swellendam Republic of 1795. The orange stripes are said to represent the Orange River. The Orange Free State was conquered by the British at the conclusion of the second Anglo-Boer War. This flag was depicted in the popular De la Rey video of Bok van Blerk which was depicting the Bitter Ender phase of the second Anglo-Boer War. The flag was & is one of the numerous Boer Republic flags on display within the Cenotaph Chamber at the Voortrekker Monument at Pretoria atop Monument Hill & is a popular symbol of the Boer folk.

22 Opinion(s):

Majuba said...

"The red / white & blue horizontal tri colour in the canton was the first Boer Republican flag ever adopted as it was the flag adopted for the short lived Graaff-Reinet Republic of 1795 - 1796 as well as the flag of the even shorter lived Swellendam Republic of 1795."

It is also the national flag of The Netherlands from which it was no doubt derived. The Dutch horizontal tri-colour existed when they established the Cape and it is still the national flag today.

Ron. said...

No doubt the first Boer Republican flag was derived from a flag used by the Netherlands. Though at the time the Boers declared their first republics on the Cape frontier in 1795 the Netherlands was then known as the Batavian Republic [ which was then in alliance with France ] & had transitioned out of using the orange / white & blue horizontal tri colour & had adopted the red / white & blue horizontal tri colour with an image in the canton.

When the VOC established a presence at the Cape: it is widely believed that thy did so with the orange / white & blue horizontal tri colour. [ with the VOC logo in the center similar to the later design of the South African flag. ] Though some dispute this & claim a version of the red / white & blue was already in use by the VOC but the Dutch Republic in fact did use the orange / white & blue horizontal tri colour until 1795 when the Batavian Republic went into effect.

The main reason why the orange / white & blue horizontal tri colour flag was adopted as the South African national flag in 1927 was due to the common belief [ & high probability ] that it was the first flag raised at the Cape [ though the Portuguese might dispute this ] & the other main factor being that it was no longer being used by the Netherlands. The Boers are said to have chosen the red / white & blue design to symbolize their break with VOC domination but it is also said that they choose those colours to affirm a connection to Holland [ or rather perhaps to capitalize on Dutch support as they would court later in the 19th cent when establishing their major republics ] despite the fact that the Boers are mainly not of Dutch decent.

Majuba said...

@ Ron

Please clarify:

"despite the fact that the Boers are mainly not of Dutch decent."

I always understood the Boere to be an amalgam of Dutch, German and French Huguenot immigrants/settlers of which the Dutch were the majority.

Regarding language, I have found in my travels that Afrikaans is a lot closer to Flemish than Dutch an I personally find it a lot easier to converse with the Flemish Belgians.

Does this suggest that at the time the Cape was established Flanders was part of The Netherlands, and that most of the VOC officials came from this region of the country?

I specifically do not use the word Holland, as Holland is a province like Friesland within The Netherlands no different to KZN in the RSA

Islandshark said...

I'll leave this to Ron, as he is the expert.

All I know is that Dutch & French certainly do not make up the majority of Boer ancestry. One of the facts conveniently forgotten in the destruction of Boer history by those powers against Boer independence from the start. So much so that most do not know the difference between Afrikaner and Boer today.

Ron. said...
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Ron. said...
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Ron. said...

The Boers are indeed an amalgam of those groups you mentioned - only the so called Dutch portion turns out to really have been Frisian as discovered by Adriana Stuijt who accessed the documents in the Netherlands showing this. Stuijt notes how the Frisian identity was hidden behind the Dutch designation. Not unlike how the Boer identity is often hidden behind the Afrikaner designation. Here is a link to one of the posts she wrote on the topic. Fresians - forebears of the Boers - want their own national identity back in greater Europe. Stuijt first woke me up to this when she was responding to another poster in the Stop Boer Genocide forums back in 2004. Now I know some will debate & say that the Frisians "are Dutch too" [ as someone recently did with me on another forum ] based on the fact that many of them live in the Netherlands [ some also live in Germany as Friesland extends into the modern German sate ] but the term Dutch is usually understood to be applied to the dominant ethnic group in the Netherlands. The Frisians are smaller & have their own identity & dialect.

Furthermore there are those such as Canadian Professor Wallace Mills who assert that the bulk of the people the VOC sent to the Cape were in fact German. Source: Peoples of South Africa. Though since they were taken from the community originally from the north western region where the modern day German state is located: it might not be such a contradiction. As has been rightly pointed out here just recently & elsewhere in the past: the peoples of the north eastern areas of the Netherlands & the north western areas of modern Germany are a quite closely related.

There is something else to consider. No matter what the truth is behind the true ethnicity of the original arrivals: the Boers are likely to have quite a bit more German roots than the Cape Dutch for the simple reason that a lot of the later arriving Germans who came out in the 1700s settled directly into the northeastern areas of the Cape: the region where the Boers developed. Theuns Cloete of Boervok Radio [ & also of the Transvaal Separatists ] noted this during an interview with Right Perspective radio on Jan 6 2007. I personally think that the reason why it is often said that the Boers are "of Dutch origin" probably stems from an ARCHAIC use of the term Dutch because back in the 17th cent the term Dutch was applied to most European continental folks of Germanic background. Hence back then a German & a Netherlander would both have been called "Dutch". Just like the Germans who settled Pennsylvania & became the Amish are often still called the Pennsylvania Dutch even though they are German. Therefore the term Dutch was applied then to folks who nowadays would not be called Dutch.

Ron. said...

Also: An Afrikaans researcher Professor J A Heese discovered that the Dutch & German origins of the macro White Afrikaans speaking people(s) was about the same with the Dutch at about 35 % & the German at about 34 %. So even if the Dutch portion was all solid Netherlands Dutch: it still only accounts for a portion of the greater Afrikaans speakers roots.

I have heard before how Afrikaans appears to be close to Flemish & do not know why other than perhaps Flemish stemmed from a working class dialect of Dutch because we know that the language spoken by the first arrivals at the Cape was certainly some sort of working class dialect as per the admissions in Jan van Riebeeck's diary who "detested" that dialect.

The folks who were sent to the Cape spoke what was called High Dutch / or Low German. I do not know if that dialect was related to what emerged as the Flemish dialect. I do not think that it was as speakers of High Dutch & what emerged as Flemish are located in different regions. It is surprising that Afrikaans can be so close to other "Dutch" based languages due to it having picked up & incorporated a lot of Malay / Khoi & Portuguese words.

Ron. said...

Concerning the adoption of the red / white & blue horizontal tri colour by the Boers. I should point out that this flag was used for some other Boer Republics [ aside from the first ones I mentioned in the article ] such as the Utrecht Republic & Lydenburg Republic. Both of which were later incorporated into the ZAR / Transvaal Republic. I should also point out that this flag was the first flag of the Orange Free State Republic from 1854 until 1857 when the Vrystaat Vierkleur was adopted. This tri colour [ & versions of it re: the Natalia Republic flag ] appears to have been favored by the followers of Andries Pretorius while versions of the red saltire on the blue background was favoured by the followers of Hendrik Potgieter. I am still trying to find the full story on why this tri colour was adopted by the Boers as it also features prominently in the flags of their two most notable republics other than the fact that at the time the Boers were indeed courting the Dutch for support as both peoples were wary of British Imperialism. Perhaps the fact that the designers of both OFS & ZAR flags were Dutch had something to with the ultimate incorporation of the tri colour flag within the design of both flags. More research is required.

Majuba said...

@ Ron

Thanks for the information in your three posts.

Years ago I spent an interesting evening with an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania whilst on a road trip across the USA.

Whilst we were there he answered a phone call and conversed in "Pennsylvania Dutch" which is actually an old dialect of Swiss-German. It occurred to me that Pennsylvania "Dutch" should actually be Deutch, and like the words Negro and Indian which had over time morphed into Nigger and Injun perhaps the same had happened to Deutch

What are the chances of the same thing having happened in South Africa?

What is for certain is that many Afrikaans surnames today were once German - e.g. Botha and Lochner. The French Huguenot surnames are still easily identifiable today although a Frenchman may disagree with the South African pronunciation.

However, for whatever reason Dutch became the language of the Boere, for I recall my Grandfather reading a Dutch Bible up until his death in the 1970s. As we know over time this evolved into Afrikaans which today is recognised as an African language and as such finds its home in the Dept of African Languages at Stellenbosch University. The word Afrikaner is also an honest expression of how these people see themselves - African.
No different to American, Canadian or Australian.

Ron. said...

While a lot of French names retained their original French spelling many others did not. For example Villion was changed to Viljoen / Gauch was changed to Gouws / Pinard was changed to Pienaar / Jourdan was changed to Jordaan / Cronier was changed to Cronjé / Lombard was changed to Lombaar / Le Clercq was changed to De Klerk. The changed spelling was often done in part to RETAIN the original French pronunciation. Though names like Du Toit are pronounced by Afrikaans speakers entirely different to the original French pronunciation.

The Huguenot Society of South Africa notes that the French roots of Afrikaans speakers is at around 24 %.

Dutch was never the language of the Boers because the dialect they adopted sprang from the then emerging Afrikaans [ though of course it was not formally called Afrikaans until it was recognized as such in 1875 ] which developed at the Cape as a lingua franca between the diverse populations groups during the late 17th cent. The Boers are only one group which adopted & helped to formulate this language & the other groups speak their own dialects. The language appears to have a Dutch base because Dutch was the language the VOC enforced in the region while Afrikaans emerged as a homegrown attempt at trying to conform to Dutch but is in fact a result of a slight blending process & of many different influences & of course [ I do not have to tell you but make the point for first time readers ] is spoken in a totally different accent & cadence than Dutch.

Now it is true that the Boers had to read Dutch [ likely closer to High Dutch ] as Afrikaans did not become a written language until 1875 with the creation of the first Afrikaans based newspaper. but Afrikaans was spoken since at least the late 17th cent. Professor Wallace Mills notes that Dutch had to be learned [ link. ] ergo Dutch was not the language of the Boers at least not their day to day speech. This is similar to how many English speakers still read the King James Bible yet certainly do not speak that archaic form of English in day to day life. But since Dutch was the language of Church & State: those going into politics & church affairs had to learn Dutch. One must also remember that many Boers could not read or write Dutch.

Afrikaans evolved into a distinct language by the early 1700s because there are records of Dutch speakers derogatorily referring to Afrikaans by 1745. The reading of Dutch however persisted much longer [ circa 1875 ] until a language rights movement gave Afrikaans official recognition.

This is why the term Afrikaner is so insidious because there was no better term to dispossess the Boers with this term as they had long since viewed themselves as Africans BUT they also viewed themselves as distinct from the Cape Dutch [ also noted by Professor Wallace Mills at this link. ] who did not start calling themselves Afrikaners until 1875. At a time when the Boers had LONG since been established as a distinct people who had long since moved away [ circa 1679 - 1735 ] from the Cape Dutch. More on this at this link. IE: the bulk of the Afrikaners & the folks who appropriated the term in a dangerous macro Afrikaans political context.

Ron. said...

Thus it is ironic that the folks who LEAST saw themselves as African [ ie: the Cape Dutch ] would be the ones to appropriate the term Afrikaner in a teleocratic political context which would lead to the marginalization of the Boers who MOST saw themselves as being African. This is the same reason why many French Canadians reject that designation in favour of the term Quebecois even though they are the original Canadiens.

Remember that French & English Canadians also both see themselves as Canadians but since the French speakers are a minority under the term Canadian: they are similarly dispossessed as the Boers are under the term Afrikaner.

Therefore due to the fact that the term Afrikaner could be identified with by the Boers [ as they viewed themselves as Africans just as the ancestors of the Quebecois viewed themselves as Canadiens / Canadians ] it was instrumental in the Boers' letting their guard down [ exacerbated by their then impoverished conditions ] & being co-opted by the Cape Dutch in ways which would have been unthinkable if the Cape Dutch had tried to force the Boers more openly into the Cape Dutch or into another less identifiable designation.

Ron. said...

There are numerous other French names which changed their spelling to conform to a Dutch spelling. I first read about all of this in an informative book called Ces Francais Qui on fait L'Afrique du Sud. Back in 1999. Therefore there are a lot more French names than one will think at first glance due to this respelling context.

Heronymous Bosh said...

Looks like Moeletsi Mbeki is bang on the money...Now it's backed up by the data...
Can the current crop of jungle bunnies possibly avert what is surely coming?

Piet said...

Giliomee is another French name (Guillomet, small William I think), Fourie, Durandt, etc.

Ron said : "I have heard before how Afrikaans appears to be close to Flemish & do not know why other than perhaps Flemish stemmed from a working class dialect of Dutch "

No :

1) Flemish is like Afrikaans because it still often rolls its "r", has less of an "sh" and deep guttural "sch" (as in Schiphol) sound. Personal opinion: Holland Dutch pronunciation is a pain, Afrikaans and Flemish more pleasing.

2) Limburg dialect has some traits of Afrikaans (deur instead of door for instance, seun instead of zoon) etc.

3) Flemish was not at all at that time the "working class" dialect in the XVIIth century, actually Flanders was ahead of Holland at the start of the XVIIth century and many of the Dutch intellectual were actually Flemish. Earlier in the XVth cenury, the center of Dutch speaking culture was Flanders (see the Rederykers).

Extract from Afrikaans en sy Europese verlede by E.H. Raidt (p. 47) :

"In de laaste jare van die 16de en die begin van die 17de eeu verskuif die beskawingsentrum al hoe meer na die Noorde. Dit is o.a. te wyte aan die grootskale uitwyking van vooraanstande Brabanders en Vlaminge na die Noorde".

Ron. said...

The original French spelling of Giliomee was Guillaumé according to the book: Ces Francais qui on fait l'Afrique du Sud. Click here for link. The progenitor of the name arrived in 1726 & was probably the last & certainly was one of the last French Huguenot settlers / arrivals. Right in the middle of this informative book are a few pages devoted to a list [ though incomplete ] of French Huguenot settlers & what year they arrived & from what town or region of France & how some of those names were respelled.

Thanks for the information about Flemish: I did note that I had no idea why some assert that it is close to Afrikaans & then gave an erroneous speculation.

That book on the French Huguenots who were sent to the Cape was a great find as it lists most of the French Huguenot arrivals & their names / where they were from [ when it was known ] & gives an long account of their influence in the region. The only problem though was that it is in French. While I can read French to a certain degree: I can speak French much better than can read it so my comprehension of the information in the book was not as good as it would have been had it been in English or if my French reading skills were better. The book talks about some notable Afrikaans speakers of French origin / with French surnames. The book was published in France about twenty three years ago when it first came out & has been reprinted as well.

Piet said...


I know of Bernard Lugan's book on the French Huguenot. I have a few of Bernard Lugan's books.

I have on the walls of one of my rooms at home, 3 maps showing the origin of popular Afrikaans surnames of the three main components of the Boervolk: Dutch, German mainly Low German so the same linguistic group as Dutch, and French.

The French map has a list of Huguenot names (original and today orthographies) and the date they landed in the Cape. I bought it in Franschhoek a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

1. Swellendam and G-R Republics Flag was not the Dutch Flag as the latter was Orange, White and Blue Tricolour, although this was changed to Red, White and Blue during the formation of the "Netherlands" (post- "Holland")!

2. Most Boers were "Burgandois" hence the use of this flag (as seen on Islandshark's comments) which became the flag of the Voortrekkers!

3. The Voortrekker leaders were, almost to a man, of Huguenot Descent. The Huguenots were not Germanic (like the Angles - English, Franks - French etc) BUT rather Celtic and from Southern France, mainly Langue'doc!

Ron. said...

Point one is correct. But the Batavian Republic did adopt a red / white & blue horizontal tri colour in 1795. You are going to have to define "Burgandois". The red saltire on the blue background was used by the followers of Potgieter but not by the followers of Retief / Maritz or Pretorius. The Voortrekker leaders did not all have French surnames but they might have all had at least some Huguenot roots. The French people are mainly of Celtic origin but also of Latin origin particularly in the southern region. There is also a slight Germanic admixture with is more prominent in the north east region of France. Therefore a lot of the French Huguenots from southern France did not even speak French but rather Occitan & Provencal. The French Huguenots sent to the Cape were from all over France not just Languedoc or the south. There were a lot from Calais which is in the north & few from Poitiers which in in the west.

Anonymous said...

The Franks were Germans, just like the Angles and Saxons. Before the Germanic Peoples entered Gaul (after 500AD), everyone in what is today France, were ethnic Celts. Like "Boer", Gaul meant "farmer" in Langue D'Oc or "language of the Occidental (Western) People who were ethnic Celts! The Huguenots were not protestants in the same way the Dutch were, but in fact had there anti-Roman Catholic Church roots in the Cathars who had suffered genocide under the RC church in the 13th Century. The Cathars had their origins in Carthage in North Africa until the Roman invasion circa 50AD. New Carthage was established on the Iberian Med. Coast and inland around Parpignon and up to Langue D'Oc - see today's Catalan Provinces in both France and Spain.
Great Boer leaders from "Retief" to "De La Rey" had Huguenot (and possibly Cathar) Ancestors!

Ron. said...

The Franks were Germanic. The term German is reserved for the folks who are now found within the German State. The southern portion of France was inhabited by Roman / Latin speakers. De la Rey is not a French name: it is a Spanish name. The French version of De la Rey would be De la Roi. The word "rey" means king in Spanish. The word "roi" [ pronounced "rwah" as in "talk" ] means king in French.

Now your contention that the Voortrekker leaders were all of French Huguenot origin is not as straight forward as they were probably at least partially of French origin - but most did not have French names. Retief / Cilliers [ from Celliers ] & Marais are the only ones which were French names. Trichardt was a Danish name. Potgieter was a Dutch name. Pretorius is a Latin translation of a Dutch or German name. Van Rensburg was a surname the VOC created for the progenitor of the name in Southern Africa as he was named after the town of Rijnsburg northern Europe. Maritz is either Dutch or German. Uys is a Dutch name. Their ancestry is a different matter but most of the Voortrekker leader's names were not French.

The flag that Islandshark uses was used only for the Potchefstroom Republic & briefly as the Transvaal Republic flag from 1874 - 1875 as the flag used by the Potgieter Voortrekkers & subsequently by the Winburg Republic & later the Zoutpansberg Republic did not have the white fimbriated border. The white fimbriated stripe was added for heraldic reasons. When constructing a flag one should always take into account that darker colours should be separted by lighter or contrasting colours other wise the flag will not look too great.

Anonymous said...

A Germanic person, that is a person of the Germanic tribes, E.G. Franks, Angles, Jutes, Lombards, Goths, etc, were and are called Germans. This is a correct use of the word; it is not reserved for only those from the Bundesrepublik.