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Bechuanaland flags

(Botswana pre-independence)

Last modified: 2017-06-02 by bruce berry
Keywords: botswana | bechuanaland | high commissioner |
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image by Clay Moss, 18 Dec 2006

See also:

Background

Prior to independence on 30 September 1966, Botswana was the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland (the name having being an English corruption of the 'Land of the Tswana as members of the Tswana tribe form the majority of the inhabitants).  The Mfecane disturbances in South Africa in the early 19th century sent refugees through eastern Botswana and the Ndebele finally settled what is now western Zimbabwe.  Meanwhile, the Afrikaners had trekked inland from the Cape Colony and had occupied the Transvaal, putting further pressure on the Tswana.  These pressures led the Tswana leaders to appeal to Britain for protection against further Afrikaner advancement and a British military expedition arrived in 1884 and a year later southern Botswana was annexed as a Crown Colony to the Cape Colony.  The northern part of the territory was annexed shortly thereafter to form the Bechuanaland Protectorate.  The British South Africa Company of Cecil John Rhodes threatened to absorb the Bechuanaland Protectorate into its domain in the late 1890s, but another Tswana appeal to Britain forestalled this development.

Following the Union of South Africa in 1910, provision was made for the eventual incorporation of the "High Commission" territories, of which Bechuanaland was one, into the Union.  This provision lapsed when South Africa declared itself a republic and left the Commonwealth on 31 May 1961.  Prior to this, Bechuanaland was administered through the office of a High Commissioner who was based in South Africa.  The administration of the protectorate was based in Mafeking in South Africa, the only such example of an administration being based outside the territory over which it has jurisdiction.

Bechuanaland obtained independence as an independent republic within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966 and a new capital city was built at Gaborone.
Bruce Berry, 19 Feb 1998

The complete sequence was:
The Batswana were in conflict with the Boers and asked the British for assistance.
1884.  Deputy Commissioner appointed.
1885.  With concurrence of Chief Khama the whole of Bechuanaland was placed under British protection.  The southern part of the country was constituted a Crown colony and called British Bechuanaland.
1895.  Annexed to Cape Colony.

Northern Bechuanaland was treated as though it was part of British Bechuanaland until 1895 when it was made a separate territory and administered by a Resident Commissioner under the High Commissioner for South Africa.
David Prothero, 21 Mar 1999
 


Bechuanaland Protectorate

No distinctive colonial flag was devised for the Bechuanaland Protectorate and only the British Union Jack was flown.
Bruce Berry, 19 Feb 1998


High Commissioner in and for South Africa

 image by Martin Grieve, 24 Nov 2005

Prior to independence on 30 September 1966, Botswana was the British protectorate of Bechuanaland. The Bechuanaland Protectorate was administered through the office of the High Commissioner in South Africa which was created by letters patent in 1878. The High Commissioner was charged with the conduct of British relations with the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, as well as with "those native states and tribes outside the colonies of the Cape and Natal, including Swaziland" (which was administered by the government of the South African Republic under the convention of 1894). The High Commissioner was also governor of Basutoland (now Lesotho) and supervised the affairs of the Bechuanaland Protectorate (now Botswana) and Swaziland.

The High Commissioner flew a British Union Flag charged in the centre, on a white roundel, with the letters S.A.H.C. in black above which was a Tudor crown, all within a green garland of laurel. This flag which was taken into use in 1907, is similar in design to that of the Western Pacific High Commissioner.

This flag was used until 1931 after which the posts of Governor-General and High Commissioner were separated. The governor-general of South Africa would henceforth fly a royal-blue flag bearing the royal crest with two scrolls inscribed "Union of South Africa" and "Unie van Suid-Afrika" respectively. The High Commissioner, based in South Africa, was represented by a Resident Commissioner in each of the high commission territories (Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland). Of these, only the Resident Commissioner for Basutoland, which was a crown colony, had a personal flag. The other two territories were British protectorates and thus their inhabitants were merely "protected persons".

The flag of the High Commissioner for Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland was a similar design to that used previously by the South African High Commissioner, being a British Union Flag charged in the centre, on a white roundel, with the letters H.C. in black, above which was an imperial crown, all within a green garland of laurel. The flag fell into abeyance following the independence of the high commission territories in the late 1960s.
Bruce Berry, 19 Feb 1998

I have a history book with a map as of 1895 which shows:
(1) British Protectorate of Bechuanaland;
(2) British Colony Bechuanaland; and
(3) Togoland (north of Zululand)

Was the British High Commissioner's flag used both in (1) and (2) ?
Where was Togoland (Amatogoland) and what flag was flown?
Nozomi Kariyasu, 15 Nov 2003

Nozomi, the British South Africa High Commissioner's flag was not introduced until 1907.

To answer you other queries:
(1) On land the flag of a British colony or protectorate was the Union Jack. The High Commissioner's flag (1935 design) may have been used on land after 1942; before that it should have been used only when the High Commissioner was embarked in a vessel.
(2) The colony of Bechuanaland was incorporated into Cape Colony in 1895
(3) I think the spelling should be Tongaland / Amatongaland. It became a British protectorate in 1895. In 1897 it was incorporated into Zululand, which was annexed to Natal in the same year.  I believe the Union Jack was used.
David Prothero, 15 Nov 2003


High Commissioner for Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland

image by Martin Grieve, 24 Nov 2005

The flag of the High Commissioner for Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland was taken into use in 1931 and used until the independence of the various colonies - Bechuanaland on 30 September 1966 as the Republic of Botswana; Basutoland as the Kingdom of Lesotho on 4 October 1966 and Swaziland as the Kingdom of Swaziland on 06 September 1968.

The flag of the High Commissioner was a similar design to that used previously by the South African High Commissioner, being a British Union Flag charged in the centre, on a white roundel, with the letters H.C. in black, above which was an imperial crown, all within a green garland of laurel. The flag fell into abeyance following the independence of the high commission territories in the late 1960s.
Bruce Berry, 24 Mar 1999
 


"Bechuana flag"

Bechuana flag image sent by Olivier Touzeau, 14 Oct 2002

This image is from the series of Cigarette Silks Iron-on Transfers the subject of which is National Animals & Flags which shows "Bechuana" (without "land" ... and without its eland...)
Olivier Touzeau, 14 Oct 2002

Those "cigarette silks" include some pretty fanciful flags, not to mention oddly chosen animals. The eland chosen for Bechuanaland isn't entirely inappropriate, although it is better known in South Africa and in fact appears as the supporters (left and right) in the arms of the Eastern Cape.
Mike Oettle, 14 Oct 2002



 
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