The Flag of Namibia: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Written by Alan
Published: December 8, 2022
© Faievych Vasyl/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Namibia is a country located in the Southern part of Africa. Thanks to the beautiful blue Atlantic Ocean, the Kalahari Desert, and the Namib Desert, it is a fantastic tourist attraction destination. This country is also rich in natural minerals like uranium, lithium, vanadium, and diamond, as mining is one of its key economic activities. In the paragraphs below, we will explore many facts about the country, including the flag of Namibia.

After gaining its independence from Germany in 1966, South Africa took over Namibia in an effort to gain its natural resources. It imposed laws and racial discrimination while applying apartheid. South Africa exploited the mineral resources by restricting Namibian’s social and economic freedom. South Africa’s Namibia take-over was also an effort to keep the guerilla war in Angola from reaching them.  

After a long struggle, Sam Nujoma established a movement to fight back for their social, political, and economic freedom. He led a campaign toward a historic change in their nation. The group fought with determination and resilience. However, it took them 24 years to finally gain independence. 

South Africa backed down after realizing the Namibians’ will to win was stronger than theirs. In 1990, Namibia was declared an independent nation, and Sam Nujoma was elected its first President. They adopted the new flag on February 2, 1990. They officially hoisted it for the first time during the country’s Independence Day celebrations on March 31, 1990. 

The flag of Namibia is one of the three symbols of the nation, alongside the national coat of arms and the President’s flag.

The History of the Flag of Namibia

Namibia's flag waving
Namibia’s flag features two triangular shapes, one on the top and the other on the bottom, with a red stripe running diagonally between them.

©em_concepts/Shutterstock.com

After gaining independence, the state organized a competition to determine a flag design for the Republic of Namibia. The then-leading group, SWAPO, suggested the adoption of its green, blue, and red flag. They argued it was the best choice and would be highly influential.

Citizens submitted about 835 other flag proposals. As a result, the government appointed a National Symbols Sub-Committee to work on these proposals and give technical advice on which symbols and colors to use on the new flag.

This sub-committee finally settled on three designs by Theo Jankowski, Ortrud Clay, and Don Stevenson. 

Committee members combined the three designs to form the official flag of the Republic of Namibia. Hans Berker, a judge and the chairman of the sub-committee, publicly acknowledged these designs. 

The combined flag featured two triangular shapes, one on the top and the other on the bottom. A red stripe with white edges ran diagonally between the triangles. The upper triangle was blue with a golden sun resting on it. The sun had 12 triangular rays, and the lower triangle was green.

Below, we will discuss the meaning and symbolism of each color and the overall design.  

Meaning and Symbolism of the Namibian Flag

National flags are a symbol of patriotism and identification. Flags widely represent a nation and its agenda. They show a country’s culture, beliefs, values, and history. 

The flag of Namibia symbolizes its freedom after a long struggle to gain independence. It also symbolizes peace, loyalty, and national unity. It represents the nation in all aspects. 

The sun

The golden color represents warmth, life, and energy. It symbolizes the beautiful plains in the Namib Desert. This desert is an attraction site for tourists, and it is the oldest desert in the world, having existed for more than 55 million years. 

Namibia is one of the greatest producers of zinc, silver, lead, tin, and tungsten. They are also the largest exporters of non-fuel minerals. Today, mining is a livelihood for most Namibians. 

The sun also represents the unique wildlife that inhabits the country. You will find desert elephants, zebras, cheetahs, and white rhinos. These wild animals also boost tourism, which has significantly contributed to the country’s GDP.

Blue

Blue symbolizes the Atlantic Ocean, which supports fishing and fish processing along the Namibian Coast. Due to the presence of the Benguela current, it has become the most productive industry in Africa. As a result, the marine ecosystem is now a great source of economic support. 

Blue also represents the clear blue sky and is a fantastic inspiration for beauty and serenity.

Namibia is a semi-arid area. Lack of water has become the main hindrance to the country’s economic growth. The government, therefore, ensures the country prioritizes water sustainability measures. Blue also signifies the importance of rain and water.

White

White represents peace, innocence, purity, and tranquility. Since independence, Namibians have enjoyed a peaceful and quiet nation. Therefore, white provides a constant reminder of their hard-earned freedom.

It also represents unity. Together, they were able to fight and win against their enemies. White reminds them to stay united and fight for each other. 

Red

The red band that cuts across the flag represents the Namibian people. It shows their determination to fight for freedom. During the fight, many lives were lost, but they persisted until they attained victory. Red is a constant reminder of their heroism during the struggle.

As seen in the national anthem, they celebrate the bloodshed and the bravery of these heroes.

Red also stands for their commitment to building a nation with equal opportunities for all. Everyone is important and deserves equal chances.  

Green 

Green represents the vegetation in Namibia. Although a more significant part of Namibia is desert, the central and northern regions have rich grassland. These lands support livestock farming, and farmers export 80% of their mutton and beef to South Africa and other nations. As a result, livestock has grown to a population of 6.7 million. Additionally, they have achieved crop farming through irrigation in areas bordering rivers, reducing import dependency. The main crops grown are sorghum, maize, grapes, and beans.

The National Coat of Arms

The coat of arms is the official emblem of the Namibian government. It is a symbol of the people of Namibia, introduced in 1990 after independence. This image is on all official stationery and publication. 

Namibia’s national flag is on the country’s coat of arms shield.

Symbolism and the Meaning of the Coat of Arms

  • The national flag. The sub-committee suggested including the national flag on the shield.
  • Two oryx antelopes. Two antelopes sit on opposite sides of the shield. They represent elegance, pride, and courage.
  • A fish eagle. Eagles have excellent vision. Above the shield is a fish eagle, which symbolizes the country’s leaders.
  • A shield. The shield symbolizes the old Namib Desert.
  • Welwitschia mirabilis. This is a unique desert plant that symbolizes survival. Its fight for survival in the desert parallels Namibia’s courage and determination.
  • The motto. Included in the coat of arms is the motto: “Unity, Liberty, Justice.” These are the fundamental principles embodied in the constitution.
  • The headband. On top of the shield is a headband that symbolizes traditions. The diamond symbol represents natural resources and their importance to the economy.   

Private organizations can’t use the coat of arms unless the president grants authority.

The President’s Flag

In addition to the national flag, Namibia has a presidential flag. This flag represents the supremacy and status of the head of state and announces his presence. 

When visiting other countries, the president only uses the national flag. The president’s flag is only flown locally.  

Mr. Fred Brownell designed the Namibian presidential flag after independence. It has three triangular shapes resting on a rectangle. 

These triangles are blue, gold, and green. The blue triangle occupies the top part, the gold is in the middle, and the green is at the bottom. The coat of arms is inside the golden triangle. 

Namibia copied this design from the South African State President’s flag and launched it on March 30, 1990.

Military Flags

In addition to the national flag and the presidential flag, Namibia has military flags. They include:

  • The defense force flag
  • The police flag
  • The naval jack

The Defense Force Flag

The Namibian defense force flag was designed and adopted right after the country’s independence in 1990. It has red, blue, and white triangles. The force arms is inscribed inside the flag’s white triangle. 

The Police Flag

Like the defense force flag, the police flag launched in 1990. The flag is blue with a red-colored diagonal that rotates from its lower hoist-side corner. It has the police force symbol in the corner and the country’s national flag on the canton. 

The Naval Jack

Namibia’s naval jack also launched in 1990. The flag features a white field and the country’s national flag on the canton.

Display and use the Flag and National Symbols

From history, we have learned the importance of the national flag of Namibia and its symbolism. Here are some rules for displaying the national flag and other national symbols.

  • Citizens should raise the national flag before sunrise and lower it before sunset.
  • When raising the national flag with other flags, hoist the national flag first and lower it last.
  • Government offices are to display the national flag openly.
  • The President has the right to impose other rules as he sees fit.

Final Thoughts

Namibia is a free nation that enjoys the beauty and serenity of its landscape. Its flag portrays its rich history and natural resources, while symbolizing heroism, determination, and victory. Looking at their flag, Namibians see their pride preserved.

Up Next…


The Featured Image

Flag of namibia
Namibia's flag has diagonal stripes in blue, red, and green.
© Faievych Vasyl/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:
About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Berker
  2. Northwestern, Available here: https://sites.northwestern.edu/africanenvironments/namib-desert/
  3. SA History, Available here: https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/namibian-struggle-independence-1966-1990-historical-background