WTF is the apartheid flag doing at #BlackMonday protests?


Protesters donned black and carried white crosses – and some the old apartheid-era flag – in the #BlackMonday protests. The protest raised questions about Afrikaner nationalism and white supremacy.

On Monday, hundreds of protesters around South Africa blocked highways in support of #BlackMonday. They wanted to raise awareness about the growing prevalence of farm murders. AfriForum claimed that there have been 70 farmers murdered and 341 attacks since January compared to the 339 attacks and 64 murders last year.

Protesters blocked highways and but what stood out was the display of the the old tricolour flag which is symbolic of the apartheid regime.

People on Twitter were puzzled about why the flag was being evoked at these protests.

A woman from Cape Town told News24 she felt protected under the old South African flag, that she was proud of that flag. “This isn’t a black and white issue, it’s about the right to live and the right to protect yourself,” she said.

Social anthropology professor at Wits University David Coplan told eNCA in September that Afrikaners continue to display the flag to show they still have ownership of the country. Coplan was commenting after a pub in Sea Point came under fire for displaying it.

“It memorialises Afrikaans nationalism and white supremacy. It’s not just a matter of history only,” he said. They have this problem in the United States with the old Confederate flag which they say is part of Southern history but is very prejudicial and ethnic oriented and divisive history, he said. “If people in South Africa really want to be South African and pull together as I do, I don’t think we should be displaying that flag.”

Politicians condemned the use of apartheid symbolism. Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa and Midvaal executive mayor Bongani Baloyi came out on Twitter to condemn the use of the flag.

The blatant brandishing of apartheid-era symbolism suggests that at least for a portion of the protesters, Black Monday is more about politics and less about farm murder.

*Editor’s note: A paragraph was amended in this article to reflect that AfriForum has made a claim about the rate of farm murders, rather than a revelation.

Featured image via Twitter


  1. Dear Farmer.
    Today I wore black. You asked us to stand in solidarity with you against farm murders and so I did. I wanted you to know that I see, hear and acknowledge the issues you are facing. I wanted you to know that my heart breaks for the loved ones you lost. I wanted you to know that we need you.

    I reposted images of people coming together standing in unison with you. I posted pictures of people on their knees praying. I posted the good and wholesome that came out of this protest.

    I did this not because I was blind to the fact that their were individuals waving a flag, that represented a government that hurt a nation. To those individuals I would like to say, “Please don’t dismiss the hurt that is associated with that flag. That flag is more than a piece of material. It’s iconic of a land once divided. It’s iconic of one human being showing another human being that they are not valuable. It represents everything that we do not want to be. I want to say that I forgive you for waving that flag, because unless you were oppressed under that flag, you will not understand.”

    Tommorow or the day after there will be another injustice that I will rise up against, but today was your day. We hear you, see you, need you and feel with you. Let us not fight each other, but rather lay this squarely at the foot of the government that has stewardship over this land.

  2. People don’t learn…. we have a chance to raise awareness on a very dire situation in SA. ALL murders are in humane. ALL South Africans are suffering under a corrupt government who allow this state of lawlessness to continue. ALL farmers are under attack. No farmers = No food.
    We want to raise awareness for the thousands of women and children who are being sexually abused/raped/tortured/murdered, we want to raise awareness on the high rate of farm attacks and murders. We do not want to make it racial thing. When people realise this, then the media will not be able to turn such horrible events into a racist rant… why fuel the haters? Do not give them a reason to dismiss our plight! The old flag will always have meaning for our people – our forefathers bled and died for that flag but unfortunately the rest of the world will always see it as the symbol of oppression and apartheid. Think with your minds and not your hearts. If you want international support stop making it about race – keep to the facts and leave colour out of it. Being a minority in a country always means that there will be other races with higher murder rates – it’s simple maths. But this does not mean that our farmers lives are worth less. This just means that we have to raise awareness without giving the media the chance to focus on racial aspects…


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