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Klipdrift Republic (South Africa)

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by bruce berry
Keywords: klipdrift |
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[Digger's Republic (1870) in South Africa - alternate] image by Bruce Berry, 10 June 1998 See also :

Klipdrift Republic

According to the author McNish, Parker's Presidency was at first only a galvanised iron building in the veld but later a more substantial place in the main street of Klipdrift was used. He writes, "A flag was designed showing "the Union Jack in the top right hand corner with a large rearing horse as the central item". This flag was hoisted daily on a flagstaff in front of the Presidency building.

When one considers that the majority of the diamond diggers were British subjects (from Natal and the Cape) and that the Union Jack and British Ensigns were widely flown on the diggings and the fact that the flag described by Theodore Doms contained a Union Jack, it is well within the bounds of possibility that the Red Ensign could have formed the basis of this flag of the Diggers' Republic.

With his naval background Stafford Parker would have been well acquainted with the British Red Ensign - which with the addition of a distinctive badge was later to form the basis of many colonial ensigns. In addition he had a great love for horses.

Since Parker had made a living as a painter for a while before moving to the diggings, it seems more than likely that he might have painted the horse onto an existing Red Ensign himself. A white horse would undoubtedly have shown up better on the red field, but as it happens, it seems that black paint was used instead. The only known representation of this flag is in the form of a painting by W McGill, which is in the Africana Museum in Johannesburg.

Following the appointment of a British magistrate to Klipdrift and a disastrous flood in December 1870, many of the diggers moved to more promising "dry diggings" at Du Toit's Pan, where Parker again opened a general dealer's store and music saloon.

It is known that McGill visited Du Toit's Pan in 1871. The catalogue of the African Museum describes the painting in question as showing "depicting a wood and iron store with the words "...mond fields .. duce store" - " ... Buyer" - "Diamant Kooper" (diamond buyer) painted on it. Above the store flies a flag with a horse on a red ground and a Union Jack in the top corner nearest the flag-pole. This has been described - on what grounds it is not known - as the flag of the Griqualand Republic. The name of the artist and the subject are adduced solely from the Signature".

Its seems probable that the building concerned might well have been Stafford Parker's own establishment at Du Toit's Pan. He never allowed people to forget he had been a President and was known as the "ex-President" for the remainder of his life. It is logical to assume, bearing in mind the independent nature of the diggers, that Parker might well have continued to fly a flag adopted during his Presidency, while living at Du Toit's Pan.
(Extract from SAVA Journal 3/94: "The Union Jack over Southern and Central Africa, 1795 - 1994" by FG Brownell.) [brL92]
A replica of this flag continues to fly at the "Big Hole" in Kimberely.
Bruce Berry, 10 June 1998

The short-lived Klipdrift Republic lay on the Vaal River, in what shortly afterward was to become the colony of Griqualand West – in other words, at the opposite end of the Free State. I must emphasise that the diggers' republics on the diamond fields were a) very short-lived, and b) very definitely British. Both were precursors to Griqualand West, and ought to be listed under that heading, even though there does not appear to have been a flag specific to Griqualand West. (Griqualand did issue stamps briefly – all overprints of the letters G. W. on stamps of the Cape Colony.)
Mike Oettle, 14 Jul 2002



 
 
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