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Griqualand (South Africa)

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Last modified: 2011-06-10 by bruce berry
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Griqua flag

[Griqua flag] image by Jarig Bakker, 14 Dec 2001

In Sovereign Flags of Southern Africa, by A P Burgers (1997) [bur97], mentions the following:
In about 1903 a Griqua flag came into existence. Although it never served as a sovereign flag, it serves to this day as the unifying symbol for all the widely scattered Griqua communities. The flag is the inverse of the Transvaal vierkleur, that is: the Dutch tricolour is next to the hoist and the vertical green panel is along the outside edge of the fly".

Griqualand East was a historical division in the Eastern Cape province of approximately 19 000 sq. km.  The main town is Kokstad. It was settled 1862 by Griquas, a people of Bushman and Hottentot descent.  Under their leader, Adam Kok, the area annexed to the Cape Colony in 1879.
Griqualand West is in the Northern Cape Province (north of the Orange River and west of Orange Free State) of about 38 000 sq. km with Kimberley being the main town.  It is dry semi-desert country, noted for its diamond fields. Following the discovery of diamonds in the region in 1867, the area earlier settled by the Griquas became subject of dispute between the Orange Free State and the British.  The latter annexed it in 1871 and the area became part of the Cape Colony in 1880.
Jarig Bakker, 14 Dec 2001

The Griqua nation is not known to have made use of flags before 1902 when they adopted a flag similar to the Zuid-Afikaansche Republiek (ZAR) vierkleur but inverted, i.e. with the Dutch tricolour against the hoist and the vertical green bar at the fly. Before 1848 no organised state existed north of the Orange River and the concept of a Griqualand West did not exist either. The Griquas living in this area were under the Chieftainship of Andries Waterboer but they are not known to have used flags. In 1848 the British annexed the territory between the Orange and Vaal Rivers and called it the Orange River Sovereignty with a Magistrate at Bloemfontein who flew the Union Jack. In 1854 the Orange Free State (OFS) Republic was established in this territory when the British withdrew in accordance with the Bloemfontein Convention of that year. The flag of the OFS therefore flew over that part of Griqualand West between the rivers until 1871 when the territory was annexed by Britain after the Keats Award and incorporated into the Cape Colony. So the Union Jack once more flew over the territory from then on until 1928. The so-called Cape Government flag was taken into use in 1876 (British Blue Ensign with the Cape colonial Arms in the fly) and was also presumably used in the territory until the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

Before the British annexation of Griqualand West, there was a miner's rebellion along the Vaal River against the authority of the OFS. They called themselves the Griqualand Republic and it was also known as the Diggers' Republic. This so-called republic ceased to exist after the British annexation.

Philippolis is a town just north of the Orange River in the central Free State. It started life as a mission station of the London Missionary Society established by Dr John Philip. It was in the territory of Adam Kok III, the chief of the Eastern Griquas. It was never a state and as far as is known aware no flags except that of the OFS ever flew there.

Griqualand East came into being when Adam Kok trekked with his people through Basutoland over the Drakensberg range in 1861 after their territory was incorporated into the OFS. They settled on a piece of unclaimed territory between Pondoland and Natal around the town of Kokstad which subsequently became known as Griqualand East. Here they enjoyed independence for a few short years before the territory was also annexed by Britain and it was incorporated into the Cape Colony. They made no use of flags as far as can be established.
André Burgers, 06 Dec 2004


Griqualand East

Griqualand East was definitely a Griqua settlement, not a Boer state. The land it occupied was part of the Mpondo chief Faku's treaty state, but was abandoned when Faku proclaimed a depopulated buffer zone between himself and the Republiek Natalia. Faku was the first to call it No Man's Land. The Griqua leader Adam Kok III, who occupied land east of Griqualand West along the north bank of the Orange River, obtained permission from the British to settle his people in 'No Man's Land' and left in 1861, trekking over the Drakensberg and settling first at Mount Currie and later in the nearby town of Kokstad.

Much of the land in Griqualand East later fell into the hands of English-speaking traders and farmers from Natal. The area was annexed to the Cape in 1880. It was cut off from the rest of the Cape by Transkei's independence in 1976, and was handed over to Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) - so fulfilling a long-held Natalian dream.
Mike Oettle, 14 Dec 2001


Griqualand West

Working again from your clickable map, I clicked on Griqualand West and found myself on the page for the Cape Colony.
While this is not entirely incorrect, since the colony of Griqualand West was annexed to the Cape in 1880, it might be more appropriate to link it to the Diggers' Republic and the Klipdrift Republic.

While the authority of the OFS was asserted in both these places, leading to the suppression of the flags, both "states" were absorbed into Griqualand West, following the Keate Award.

Neither of these short-lived and loosely organised republics was in any sense a Boer republic. The diggers who proclaimed them were a motley international grouping, although the leaders in the two proclamations were British, as the appearance of the Union Jack in both flags reveals.
If the map link goes to these two republics, the page can in turn link to the Cape Colony.

Griqualand West, although it took its name from the people under the leadership of Nikolaas Waterboer, was a Crown Colony primarily aimed at ensuring British ownership of the diamond fields. It was by no means a "Boer" state.
Mike Oettle, 14 Dec 2001

Griqualand West was surrendered to Britain in 1871, the governor of Cape Colony was made its governor in 1872, with a nominated executive council, and a partly elective legislative council. These were abolished when the territory was annexed to Cape Colony in 1880.

I think it very unlikely that there was ever a British flag that was specifically associated with Griqualand West.
David Prothero, 08 Dec 2004.