Fred Brownell – Designer of South African Flag Dies

Fred Brownell – Designer of South African Flag Dies


The Department of Arts and Culture, has paid
tribute to Fred Brow-nell, the man who designed South Africa’s iconic democratic national
flag. He died in his home in Pretoria, on Friday
night, of 10 May 2019. He was 79 years. These are the words of the Minister of Art
and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa. The name of Fred Brownell is one that is synonymous
with the journey, taken by this fledgling democracy, in the role he played in designing,
and producing the flag of post-democratic South Africa. Mr Fred Brownell, you gave us our identity,
as the rainbow nation. We honour you. …
Brownell, who worked in the Department of Arts and Culture, reportedly sought a theme
for South Africa’s flag for three years, in the early 90s. He selected and de-selected half the colours
in the kaleidoscope, and wrestled with one design after another. In February 1994, the then Transitional Executive
Council, considered Brownell’s flag design. The committee met in Cape Town, on 28 February
1994, saying the new flag had to encompass unity, interlinking, or convergence, as a
theme. Brownell eventually handed over the full-size
version of the flag to Roelf Meyer, the then government’s chief negotiator. He gave the design to his then ANC counterpart,
and now President Cyril Ramaphosa. Reports of the meeting indicated, that Brownell,
a Free State farmer’s son, greeted the leaders in SeSotho. The chiefs were reportedly intrigued to hear
about the flag, and wanted a sneak preview. Mr Brownell had a small paper version with
him, and showed it to them. The chiefs asked about the colours, meanings,
and patterns. Shortly thereafter the meeting commenced,
Brownell’s own recollections of the meeting, describe how Meyer, and Ramaphosa, took the
floor and showed the flag. He would recall, how at that moment, he had
a sinking feeling, and wondered whether his flag design would be vetoed. Over the subsequent years, he narrated how
just in the nick of time, enthusiastic clapping broke out from one particular corner of the
room, the corner occupied by the Traditional Chiefs from QwaQwa. When asked what had inspired his design, Brownell
maintained, that what mattered was that the flag, would find its way into the hearts,
and minds of the population at large, and became a unifying symbol. Mthethwa said, that 25 years into post-democratic
South Africa, Brownell’s vision remains. Ours is a flag, which has found its way into
the hearts and minds of the population at large, and is truly a unifying symbol. The flag has a three-armed converging cross
of the sort called a ‘pall’ in heraldry, to symbolise the convergence of different
cultures into one. Brownell also designed the coat-of-arms, for
the new provincial governments in South Africa. May the soul of Fred Brownell rest in perfect
peace. Please check in the description box below,
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