Independent Homelands

These Independent Homelands were known as the TBVC States.


Transkei Bophuthatswana







Declared independent in 1976

Declared independent in 1977

Declared independent in 1979

Declared independent in 1981

Cape Province (East)



Cape Province (East)

Non-Independent Homelands


















Orange Freestate


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An achievement was granted to the homeland of the people of South Sotho on 8 September 1972. It was:


Arms: On a Basotho shield Vert, in chief a representation of Sentinel Peak, in base dexter a crocodile reversed and sinister a leopard couchant guardant.

Crest: A Basotho hat proper.

Supporters: Behind the shield an assegai and battle-axe in saltire, Or, and two Basotho ponies proper, standing on a blue-green ground.

Motto: kopana ke matla (Unity is Strength).


The crocodile and the leopard are, respectively, the sign of recognition of the two independent tribes, the Bakoena and the Batloka, and symbolize the co-operation between the chiefs and the people. The hat is part of the traditional dress, symbolizing the protection of the two tribes so that unity may abide with authority. The ponies symbolize the firm progress on the road to development of the country. The hat and the ponies are taken from the achievement of Lesotho. [1]





Bophutatswana was granted independence on 6 December 1977. The homeland was abolished on 1 January 1994.

An achievement  was adopted on 8 September 1972:


Arms: A Tswana shield per fess at nombril point Gules and Vert, in chief a mine headgear, in base three ears of wheat dexter, sinister an oxhead caboshed in bend sinister, the shield interlaced palewise of a traditional plumed staff; behind the shield an assegai and a battle-axe in saltire, Or.

Supporters: Two leopards guardant Or standing on a compartment Vert .

Motto: tshwaraganang lo dire pula e ne (If we Stand Together and Work Hard we shall be Blessed).


The shield symbolizes the protection of the people by the authorities; the mineshaft headgear and sorghum, the livelihood of the people in industry and agriculture; the oxhead their cattle breeding. The spear and battleaxe represent the authority of the chieftainship, as do the two leopard supporters - traditionally with the Tswana people, only the chief may wear a leopard skin. [2]




An Achievement for the Homeland of Ciskei was adopted on 8 September 1972. The homeland was abolished on 1 January 1994.


Arms: A Bantu shield per saltire Or and Gules, in chief a bull’s head caboshed proper, in base a tree on an island Vert; behind the shield an assegai and knobkerrie in saltire Sabel.

Crest: Four ivory rings conjoined, standing thereon a blue crane holding in his beak a sprig with nine leaves proper.

Supporters: Two leopards guardant proper standing on a compartment Vert.

Motto: siyakunqandwa ziinkwenkwezi (We will be Stopped by the Stars).


The ox occupies an important place in the life of the people and symbolizes the development in all fields of society. It is the symbol of the Prophet Ntsikane. The milkwood tree, which grows in the Peddie district, symbolizes the people’s will to believe and accept the rule of God and the authority without which a people cannot create a prosperous future. It is particularly important for the Fingo, one of the four tribes of Ciskei. The knobkerrie is the authority which rests with the chiefs. [3]





An Achievement was granted to the homeland of Gazankulu, which means “Lake Gazan”, on 8 september 1972. It was:


Arms: An oval shield per fess wavy, in chief Azure, two spoons in saltire, handles upwards and joined by an embowed chain Or, in base per pale Argent and Sable, dexter two cogwheelds conjoined in pale Sable, sinister a flame Or; over all ten pairs of spear thong apertures in pale Argent.

Crest: On a wreath Argent and Sable a lion passant guardant Gules, holding in the dexter forepaw a horn erect Or.

Supporters: Dexter a buffalo (Syncerus caffer - Bovidć) and sinister a sable antelope (Hippotragus niger - Bovidć) proper, standing on a compartment Vert, semy of succulents proper (alias a yellow steppe-ground with green bunches of grass).

Motto: mintirho ya vulavula. (Deeds Count).


The spoons and chain links, carved out of a log, symbolize the peace and hospitality of the Gazankulu people. The geared wheels represent industrial thought. The lion on the wreath is the symbol of power and rule by the chief and the tribal body. He  holds the horn called Mhalamhala with which is the parliament is convened. [4]


Together with all other homelands Gazankulu was abolished on 1 January 1994.






Kwandebele was granted its independence on the 11th of December 1986. On the 1st of January 1994 the Homeland was abolished.


The Achievement was circular:


Arms: Or, an unfinished wall and a mealie cob per pale proper

Crest: ?

Supporters: A battle axe, a mace and a spear in saltire and a springbok on the dexter and a wildebeest on the sinister standing on a compartment Vert.

Motto: kuvuswa ezivusako (He who helps himself will be helped).


In the early 19th c., the Boers embarked on a long march (the “Grote Trek”), in quest of new lands. They arrived in the Transkei and annihilated the famous King Mzilikazi’s Ndebele army. Some of his people crossed the Limpopo River and took refuge in the ancient kingdom of Monomotapa (Zimbabwe) where eighty percent of the Ndebele live today. The others set up kraals in an area near Pretoria, which became Kwandebele, a Bantustan, in 1981.





Kwazulu is the homeland of the Zulu and here the Inkatha-movement has its origins. An achievement was granted to the homeland on 8 September 1972. It was:


Arms: A Zulu shield Argent charged with a Zulu Royal Sceptre erect proper, between nine pairs of spear thongs in pale and in base pied an oval Sable.

Crest: A headring Sable, thereon an elephant’s head caboshed proper.

Supporters: Dexter a leopard clasping in his sinister claw a spear erect and sinister a lion clasping in his dexter claw a spear erect proper, standing on a compartment Vert.

Motto: sonqoba simunye (Together we shall Surmount).


The white cow-hide shield with the single black spot, is the traditional shield of the Royal Regiment and symbolizes the security of the nation. The short spear in the centre of the shield is the Royal Sceptre and symbolizes Zulu Royalty. The black ring at the top of the shield is the traditional headring worn by men of senior rank and symbolizes maturity. The elephant’s head symbolizes strength and courage. The protection of the people lies in the traditional spears of King Chaka held by the leopard and the lion. [5]


In the early 19th c. Shaka was the chief of a small Zulu clan of little significance among the other Bantu peoples. Convinced that the survival of the Zulu people depended on the subjugation of other clans, Shaka put the Natal region to the torch and wreaked bloody havoc. Between 1815 and 1828, he annihilated every ethnic group that opposed him. This period of turmoil, known as the Mfecane (great upheaval, terror), was accompanied by famine and the exodus of a large proportion of the Bantu peoples. Shaka’s halfbrothers assasinated him in September 1828, but the Mfecane that he had unleashed continued until about 1835.


Kings of the Zulu [6]


The achievement of the Royal House of Zululand is:


Arms: Argent, the sceptre of the King of Kwazulu per pale, between four huts. In base over the sceptre a representation of the Royal Hut, proper. In chief and in base two pairs of spear thongs Sable.

Supporters: Two lions Or, langued and unguled Sable and behind the shield two clubs, two spears and a mace in saltire, standing on a compartment Sable.

Motto: ilembe leqa amanye ngoku khalipha (Together we shall surmount).[7]

















British annexation of Zululand


Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu (*1948) Paramount chief 1968. 8th king


Flag of King Goodwill Zwelithini





The achievement granted to the Lebowa Legislative Council was published in the Government Gazette n° 1110 of 23 June 1972. It was:


Arms: Quarterly: 1 & 4: Azure, gutty d’eau a chief nebuly Argent; 2: Or, an oxhead caboshed proper; 3: Or, a mealiehead leaved erect proper.

Crest: On a wreath Argent and Azure, a flame proper.

Supporters: Two leopards proper standing on a mount Vert between two flowered aloe plants, the sinister in autumn shades, proper.

Motto: mphiri o tee ga o lle (A single bangle cannot produce a sound).


The ox’s head and mealie cob represent their economic importance to the people. The flame symbolizes the spiritual power of the national culture. Aloes are a sign of the flora of the country. [8]


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The achievement granted tot the homeland of Ka Ngwane is:


Arms: Quarterly Or and Gules, in the first three primitive coins proper,  in the second a bull’s head Or, in the third a torch Or and in the fourth the ears of sorghum proper

Crest: A mace Argent supported by two lions rampant Gules.

Supporters: Behind the shield a club and a spear in saltire and two elephants proper standing on a compartment Vert charged with a sun issuant radiant Or.

Motto: siyinyandza (We are a bundle of wood bound together).


            The shield of the Achievement granted to the homeland of Swazi is a traditional Swazi one. In the first quarter are three pimitive coins indicating the connection of the country with the outside world and the financial stability which is its aim. The ox head (described as a cow’s head) points to the importance of cattle breeding in the country’s economy. It is also a symbol of the important place cattle occupies in the country’s culture.

            The torch symbolizes the spiritual power of the combined cultures of the various tribes; it is also a symbol of light and progress. The mabčle (soghum) is an important source of food and at the same time symbolizes the agriculture on which the future of the country depends.

            The two lions in the crest are a symbol of the highest authority in the land and the heraldic wreath has been given a special meaning by comparing it with the head ring of the chiefs.

            The two elephants supporting the arms of Swazi are an emblem of the power of the people to protect that what is their own against the attacks from inside and outside the country. The ground on which the supporters stand symbolizes the fertility of the Swazi earth, and the rising sun announces the new day which has dawned for the country and the people. [9]






Transkei, the land of the Xhosa, was the first independent Homeland. The Declaration of Independence was signed 26 October 1976.


An achievement was adopted 15 January 1971.


Arms: Parted per chevron dovetailed Argent, in chief Chocolate dexter a mealiehead and sinister a cogwheel both Argent; in base Vert a bull’s head caboshed Argent.

Crest: On a wreath of the colours a wicker basket between two aloes all proper.

Supporters: Two natural leopards rampant standing on a grassy ground proper .

Motto: imbumba yamanyama (Unity is Strenght).


The bull’s head symbolizes the important role of cattle farming in the economy. It also takes a prominent place in the traditional ritual and religious life.[10])


Also: Transkei


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Venda is the Homeland of the Vhavenda. Before its independence a Achievement for the Venda Legislative Assembly was adopted on 8 September 1972. It was:


Venda Legislative Assembly


Arms: Vert, an elephant statant within a bordure Or.

Crest: On a wreath of the colours a traditional drum proper.

Motto: shumela venda (Always Aspire for Vendaland) [11])


When independence was granted on 13 September 1979 two elephants respecting proper placed on an island Vert were added as supporters. The achievement may be blazoned:


Arms: Vert, an elephant's head caboshed or, tusked Argent, the whole within a bordure or.

Crest: A Venda tribal drum proper.

Supporters: Two elephants proper.



đ See illustration in the beginning of this section


Since the earliest times the shield was used as protection against attacks. In this case it means that the authority safeguards the people.

            The forward pressing head of the elephant is a symbol of the will and determina-tion of the people not to be stopped in their attempt to venture into the future in pursuance of their set ideals. It recalls King Thohoyandou who founded a powerful state in the XVIIIth century. His name means: Head of an Elephant

            The head ring symbolizes the authority and power of the chief. The drum, known as Ngoma, symbolizes the unity of the people; it is used by the chief when summoning the people of his tribe when an important message has to be conveyed.

            The two elephants watching over the coat of arms are a symbol of the power and stability exercised by the ruling authority. [12]


Also: Venda Geocities



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© Hubert de Vries 2009.03.04. Updated 2020-02-03




[1]  The Star, Friday June 20, 1975. Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Her. Soc. of Southern Africa, p. 540.

[2]  The Star. Friday June 20, 1975. Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Heraldry Society of Southern Africa, p. 540.

[3]  The Star, Friday June 20 1975. Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Heraldry Society of Southern Africa. P. 540.

[4]  The Star, Friday June 20, 1975. Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Her. Soc. of Southern Africa, p. 540.

[5]  Goverment Gazette, 23 June 1972. The Star, June 20, 1972. Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Her. Soc. of  Southern Africa, p. 540 & 581.

[6]  Morby p. 237.

[7]  Burke’s Royal Families of the World. Vol. II. Africa and the Middle East. London, Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1980.

[8]  The Star, June 20, 1975. Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Her. Soc. of Southern Africa, pp. 540 & 607.

[9]  Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Her. Soc. of Southern Africa, pp. 1025 e.v.

[10]   The Star, Friday june 20 1975.

[11]  Government Gazette n° 1110, June 23rd 1972.

[12]  Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Her. Soc. of South Africa. Pp. 540, 606 & 1025.