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KwaNdebele (South African homeland)

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by bruce berry
Keywords: south africa | homeland | kwandbele | knobkerrie | axe heads: 4 |
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image by Martin Grieve, 01 Dec 2006

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KwaNdebele - introduction

Within the "old" South Africa, 10 homelands were created, four of which were granted "independence" by South Africa (not recognised by any other country in the world). These former South African Homelands/bantustans ceased to exist on 27 April 1994. They have all (including the former so called independent Homelands) been reincorporated into South Africa.
The flags of the former Homelands are no longer in use (either officially or unofficially).
Bruce Berry, 25 April 1996

KwaNdebele was a small contiguous territory in the central Transvaal (today's north-western most Mpumalanga).
Antonio Martins, 30 May 1999

KwaNdebele was situated north-east of Pretoria and was granted internal self-government on 1 April 1981. The name KwaNdebele means the place or home of the Ndebele.
Bruce Berry, 01 Dec 1998

The Ndebele of both Mpumalanga and Limpopo Province are not, as commonly thought, offshoots of the Zulu. The abeNguni of Natal (KwaZulu-Natal) can only be referred to as Zulu from the time of Shaka onwards. Before that the Zulu were a very small clan. The Ndebele of the Transvaal region settled in their present homes at least a century before Shaka's kingdom emerged. Although they most likely are offshoots of the Natal Nguni, they predate the Zulu kingdom. These two groups are constantly confused with the Ndebele of Mzilikazi, who was a breakaway from Shaka, and who took in many refugees fleeing from Shaka's reign of terror. An additional reason for this confusion is that during Mzilikazi's early period of kingdom-building, he operated in the regions now called western Mpumalanga and Gauteng, close to the home of the Southern Ndebele. Under pressure from the Voortrekkers he moved first to the Marico district (now in North West Province) and then to Bulawayo (now in Zimbabwe).

Mention of abeNguni in Natal and Zulu calls to mind another distinction (now obsolete). When the Colony of Natal was established, only the abeNguni falling into the Zulu kingdom were referred to as Zulu, by either black or white. The Nguni-speakers within the colony referred to themselves by their clan names, not by the name of any larger grouping. The white colonists referred to them as Kaffirs (a word now avoided, and for good reason). However, when the Nguni language was recorded in Natal by Bishop Colenso, he took to referring to it, and to its speakers, as Zulu. Gradually white colonists began referring to colonial Nguni as Zulu. It took another generation before the colonial Nguni used the term Zulu of themselves. But by then political developments had aroused a great deal of sympathy for the Zulu royal house, because of the way the colonial authorities were treating the king (who at times was even deprived of his title). The result was that whereas the Nguni within Natal (south of the Tugela River) had seen themselves as being beyond the authority of the Zulu kingdom in the 1840s, by the end of the century they were loyal subjects of the Zulu paramount. Without this development, it would not have been possible for the Zulu Bantustan of KwaZulu to incorporate the tribal lands south of the Tugela in the 1960s.
Mike Oettle, 16 Dec 2001

KwaNdebele flag

The design of the KwaNdebele flag is set out in section 2 of the KwaNdebele Flag Act of 1982, which reads as follows:
"The KwaNdebele Flag shall be a flag consisting of three horizontal stripes of equal width from top to bottom of blue, yellow and green on which shall appear in the centre of the yellow stripes a short knobkerrie erect conjoining to four battle axe heads.
The knobkerrie shall be brown, the rear battle axe heads shall be brown and the front battle axe heads shall be grey.
The width of the flag shall be equal to two-thirds of its length.
The length and width of the central charge shall be two-thirds of the yellow stripes".

The blue in the flag was said to represent the colour of the sky and the endlessness of space, thus symbolising the room needed by the Ndebele to fulfill their ideals. Yellow represented the light and energy of the sun, which is indispensable to life and which also ,lights the way ahead.  Green is the colour of the plants and grass which is a source of food. It also symbolises growth and advancement.

image by Martin Grieve, 01 Dec 2006

The knobkerrie is a symbol of authority vested in the government to maintain law and order, while the battle axes are symbolic of the struggle for self-determination.

The Act became law on 19 July 1982 and was published in the Official Gazette of KwaNdebele on 06 October 1982.

KwaNdebele was a "self-governing" territory within South Africa and was moving towards full independence when internal unrest during 1986 put a stop to the process. The KwaNdebele flag was flown alongside the South African national flag until the homeland was re-incorporated into South Africa on 27 April 1994.

The area is now part of the Mpumalanga Province and the KwaNdebele flag is no longer in use.
Bruce Berry, 01 Dec 1998

KwaNdebele Police flag

image by Jens Pattke, 13 Jan 2013

The flag of the KwaNdebele Police has a green field with the KwaNdebele flag, fimbriated in white, in the canton, occupying one quarter of the length of the field, with the badge of the KwaNdebele Police being placed in the lower fly. The badge comprises four battle-axe heads in cross with rays in saltire, with a ribbon bearing the words KWANDEBELE POLICE PHOLISA - POLISIE and in the centre the coat of arms of KwaNdebele in full colour.

image by Jens Pattke, 13 Jan 2013

Following the re-incorporation of KwaNdebele into South Africa on 27 April 1994, this flag is no longer used. The current South African national flag and South African Police Service flag now fly at all police stations in South Africa.

KwaNdebele Coat of Arms

scan by Bruce Berry, 01 Dec 2006

By Government Notice No. 1599, published in the South African Government Gazette (Number 7400 of 13 February 1981), it was notified that a coat of arms had been registered for the KwaNdebele Legislative Assembly in terms of the South African Heraldry Act (Act No. 18 of 1962) with a Certificate of Registration No. 1213 being issued on 19 February 1981.

 The blazon of the coat of arms is described as:
Arms:               Per fess battled embattled Or and Brunatre, masoned sable, in chief a mealie head seeded Argent leaved Vert; behind the shield a battle-axe and assegai in saltire, proper, and in pale a bundle of woodstaves Or and a knobkerrie, resting in a quiver, proper.
Crest:               In front of an otter skin Brunatre pendanrt from the woodstaves by a neckband Vert, a breast feather of the red-breasted shrike issuant proper.
Wreath:            A head ring Sable.
Supporters:       Dexter a rietbok (reedbuck) and sinister a wildebeest, both proper.
Motto:              KUVUSWA EZIVUSAKO  (He who helps himself, is helped).

With the re-incorporation of KwaNdebele into South Africa on 27 April 1994, these Arms are no longer in use.
Bruce Berry, 01 Dec 2006

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