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The colours on the flag correspond to those on the national coat of arms. The blue represents water (the motto on the national arms is PULA, meaning "let there be rain"). The white-black-white bands depict the racial harmony of the people as well as the pluralist nature of the society. They are inspired by the coat of the zebra, the national animal.
Nick Artimovich, 1 November 1996
The blue colour a symbol of rain, how lovely!
Heather Chalcraft, 27 Apr 2003
I returned today after ten days in Botswana. Flag flying is not very common and is mainly restricted to the government and the larger commercial organisations. Many of the flags which I saw were in a very sorry state of repair - a case of up the pole and forgotten! On further inquiry I learned that there is a law which requires government permission to be granted before the flag of Botswana can be flown. How effectively this is implemented (if at all) is unclear but it might explain the lack of flags. Certainly there were no flags available for purchase.
Bruce Berry, 14 April 1998
The colour shade for the blue used on the national flag is being discussed by the Cabinet. There has been a problem with standardisation and so flags with various shades of blue (from different manufacturers) are seen and the government wants to change this. As soon as I get the confirmed details, I will share them with you.
Bruce Berry, 10 May 2001
I just came across the following account of the origins of the Botswana flag and coat of arms in George Winstanley’s book, Under Two Flags in Africa: Recollections of a British Administrator in the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Botswana 1954 to 1972 (Colchester: Blackwater Books, 2000). George Winstanley arrived in the Bechuanaland Protectorate in1954. After being a District Administrator at several stations, he was transferred to Headquarters in 1962. He was a Clerk to the Legislative and Executive Councils and later Clerk to the Cabinet where he worked closely with Sir Seretse Khama where he helped to organise the first general election in 1965 and the second in 1969. On his retirement in 1972 he was Permanent Secretary for Agriculture.
Regarding the Botswana flag, he states:
"...But I became much involved in selecting a national anthem and in the design of the coat of arms and the flag... It was decided to hold competitions for all three to try and involve the population at large. I issued the necessary notices and received several entries for each category...” (p.235). "The entries received in the flag competition were hopeless so I designed the flag myself. I wanted to make it easy to draw hence the all the straight horizontal lines. The blue background of the flag represents water – vital to the country's agriculture - and the black central strip bordered with two white strips represents racial harmony" (p.236).
Regarding the coat of arms:
"The coat of arms proved more difficult. We received two good entries, one from Lady Fawcus (spouse of Sir Robert Peter Fawcus, HM Commissioner between 1963 and 1965) and one form Lady England (spouse of the then Director of Agriculture). However, the Cabinet decided that neither was suitable as it stood and asked me to arrange for the best in both to be combined. My wife made the sketch as directed and after Cabinet approval this was submitted to the College of Heralds in the UK who made more alterations and produced a final design. The two zebra symbolise the abundant wildlife in the country as well as alluding to black/white co-operation, the ivory tusk also refers to the wildlife, the ox head and the stalk of sorghum refer to agricultural resources, the interlocking cogwheels suggest the mineral potential and the wavy blue lines emphasise the importance of water in an arid country such as Botswana. The supporting word "PULA" - the Setswana word for 'rain' - suggests happiness and optimism" (p.236).
Gerald Noeske, 11 Sept 2004
PART I Blazon of the Arms or Ensigns Armorial of Botswana
Argent three barrulets wavy in fesse azure between in chief three cog-wheels, one above engaged with two below and in base a bull's head caboshed proper, and for the supporters on either side a zebra the dexter supporting an elephant's tusk the sinister a stalk of sorghum proper. Motto "Pula".
PART II Design of the National Flag of Botswana
Five horizontal stripes having colour and width as follows, that is to say taken from the top_
1st Stripe_azure blue having a width equal to 9/24ths of the total depth of the flag.
2nd Stripe_white having a width equal to 1/24th of such depth.
3rd Stripe_black having a width equal to 4/24ths of such depth.
4th Stripe_white having a width equal to 1/24th of such depth.
5th Stripe_azure blue having a width equal to 9/24ths of such depth.
PART III Design of the Standard of the President of Botswana
An azure blue flag with a black circular disk (having a diameter equal to 12/24ths of the depth of the flag) superimposed on the centre of the flag, a white circular disk (having a diameter equal to 10/24ths of the depth of the flag) superimposed on the centre of the black disk and the coat of arms superimposed on the white disk.
Source: Governmental document about Botswana Emblems.
Santiago Tazon, 27 Apr 2001
This agrees with what I posted recently based on Album 2000 information. However, I drew the white disk on presidential flag sized 11/24 (as I had no numbers there).
Željko Heimer, 30 Apr 2001
by Željko Heimer, 18 Mar 2001
The construction sheet is provided along the edges of the figure so (9+1+4+1+9):36. The image at FOTW agrees with this, either Mark Sensen was aware of this data or he had a good artistic feeling.
Source: Album 2000.
Željko Heimer, 18 Mar 2001
I found in "Courrier International" (#524, 16 November 2000) a rather odd story involving the Botswana flag.
The original paper reporting the story is from the Spanish newspaper "El Pais". A colour picture shows the casket of "El Negro de Banyoles" just before the funeral ceremony hold in Gaborone on 5 October 2000.
Who was "El Negro de Banyoles"?
Ca. 1830, two French adventurers-naturalists living in Cape Town, Jules and Edouard Verreaux, unearthed the corpse of a tribal chief shortly after his funeral and stuffed it using taxidermy methods. In 1888, the Catalan veterinarian Francisco Darder, then curator of the zoo of Barcelona, bought the stuffed corpse, known as "the Bechuana", and exhibited it later in the Darder Museum he founded in 1916 in Banyoles (province of Gerona) to display his naturalist's collections. "El Negro" became a source of fascination and legends for the inhabitants of the city.
In 1991, the physician Alphonse Arcelin, of Haitian origin, asked the municipality to remove the corpse from the Museum. The corpse was removed from the Museum during the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games to avoid a risk of boycott by African countries.
In 1996, the Spanish government decided to avoid an international crisis and asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find a solution. Since the warrior had lived in Southern Africa, and even if his real ethnical origin is unknown, the government of Botswana decided to claim and re-bury the corpse. The warrior had probably lived in what is now South Africa, but South Africa was not considered a suitable solution because of its political situation.
In September 2000, the corpse was removed one night from the Museum and sent to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, and buried during an official ceremony in Tsholofelo. Since it was not possible to decide whether the warrior was a Tswana, a Bushman (Khoisan) he was re-buried as an "African".
Ivan Sache, 26 Nov 2000