Arms in South Africa

Heraldry in Africa
Ryan Shuflin
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 15 Feb 2013, 15:48

After seeing the South African heralds in their tabbards next to other heralds, I am not to crazy about the shield either.

Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 15 Feb 2013, 16:53

At the very least, it's simple, as it had only the one (well two, but they're the same) charge, there are only two tinctures and and it isn't over cluttered with unnecessary charges. That said, that's about the only positive thing about it.

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Jeremy Kudlick
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jeremy Kudlick » 16 Feb 2013, 02:22

I'd like to see the designs that the cabinet rejected. I'm not thrilled about the current arms; the use of geometric shapes to create the charges reeks of a corporate logo trying to be a coat of arms. I appreciate the effort, but the cabinet were, in my opinion, stupid to reject every design by the nation's heraldic experts.
Jeremy Kudlick
IAAH Associate Fellow
Semper Patriam Servire Praesto

Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 16 Feb 2013, 08:12

I know the Bureau of Heraldry's proposal featured the flag of South Africa rotated through 90% and with more 'traditional' external ornaments

Jonathan Webster
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Jonathan Webster » 29 Aug 2013, 13:08

Another thing I meant to ask Arthur about South African Arms is: are the mottoes of Arms registered with the Bureau of Heraldry unique to individuals or are they part and parcel of the registration and cannot be changed by descendants and/or cadets?

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Arthur Radburn
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Arthur Radburn » 29 Aug 2013, 14:01

Jonathan Webster wrote:Another thing I meant to ask Arthur about South African Arms is: are the mottoes of Arms registered with the Bureau of Heraldry unique to individuals or are they part and parcel of the registration and cannot be changed by descendants and/or cadets?

The mottoes aren't unique. Some have been registered by more than one person or institution. There are at least three with 'Festina lente', and a dozen or more with 'Carpe diem', for instance.

Although the motto forms part of the registered 'heraldic representation', the Act provides for registrations to be amended, so I'm sure a descendant, or the original registered owner, could register a change of motto if he wished. Or he could simply change the motto without amending the registration - the arms are his property and he can do as he pleases with them.
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Arthur Radburn
IAAH Vice-President : Heraldic Education

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Mike_Oettle
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Re: Arms in South Africa

Postby Mike_Oettle » 15 Feb 2015, 21:42

Regarding the national coats of arms, I wrote a submission to the Commission on National Symbols (part of the Conference for a Democratic South Africa [Codesa], which drew up the interim 1994 Constitution) in which I stated that the arms then in use (first granted in 1910) represented the four colonies which came together (as provinces) to form the Union of South Africa and would therefore no longer be relevant under the new dispensation.
However I proposed that these arms be retained until the nine new provinces had adopted arms of their own.
How much influence I had over the commission I have no idea, but this is what was then done.
I should mention that there were three different artistic renditions of the 1910 grant, of which the emblazonment of 1932 was the most elaborate and also the most armorial. All three nonetheless continued in use until 2000.
The 1932 version, the work of the Jersey artist George Kruger Grey, appeared in most places, but the earlier versions continued in certain usages.
For instance, the 1910 version continued to be used for the rank badges of military warrant officers (WO1 and WO2).
The 1932 version added plant images to the compartment on which the supporters stood (present in the 1930 version, too, but absent from the 1910 version), but these were never mentioned in the official blazon. The plants were proteaceaous, but which Protea species were intended was never made clear.
The present régime is obsessed with incorporating human figures into armorial devices, so it is no surprise to me that the “arms” adopted in 2000 show two humans (supposed to represent the aboriginal South Africans, referred to by the government by the insulting Khoikhoi term San, but also known as Bushmen).
The shield and the “supporters” (elephant tusks) are both shown (and officially blazoned) as being in a range of browny, golden shades — no clear heraldic colour contrast by any means.
The “crest” incorporates the colours of the national flag and represents a protea inflorescence, but in a barely recognisable and unheraldic format. This is surmounted by a secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) which, like the shield and the tusks, is intentionally shown in a range of shades.
Perhaps the most original part of the design is the motto, which takes its wording from the language once spoken by a Bushman band in the northern part of the Northern Cape Province.
This is intended to represent all the languages and cultures of the various Bushman peoples who were (originally) spread across the length and breadth of South Africa and its neighbours.
Yet it is an expression noted in the usage of just one elderly woman, who was the last member of her clan who still spoke the traditional language, and with her death the language also became extinct.
This is an odd choice of symbolism for a country wanting to build a new future.
To my mind the government was entirely wrong in insisting on this device (pressure for its adoption came direct from President Mbeki), but probably no other outcome was possible because a) Mbeki was so obsessive about it and b) the government as a whole mistrusted the Bureau of Heraldry as a group of white people with “colonialist” attitudes.
The Bureau is now headed by a National Herald (this title is not even legislated: the Heraldry Act still refers to a State Herald). Mbeki personally pressed for this man’s appointment solely because he is a black man. His qualifications are in the field of graphic design; prior to his appointment he had absolutely no knowledge of heraldry or its function, and his understanding has not progressed much.
Fortunately, most of the Bureau’s work is in the hands of Marcel van Rossum, the Deputy National Herald.
The National Herald has duties and responsibilities that take him out of the bureau’s sphere, because Mbeki also saw to it that he had a higher position in the administration than any of his predecessors.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of Marcel van Rossum’s work, but I have no good opinion of the National Herald or of the attitudes of the régime that appointed him.
Regards,
Mike
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
[Proverbs 14:27]


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