Nieuwe Republiek







The Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama reached the bay of today’s Durban on Christmas Day 1497. He named it “Rio de Natal”, Christmas River. From that time on, the bay was a frequent port-of-call for sailors and merchants, but not until 1823 did a real settlement start to develop. In 1835, Port Natal was renamed Durban after the then Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Benjamin Durban. Life in the small harbour town was very precarious. The Zulus regarded Natal as their own territory and merely tolerated the white settlers, because the port was useful to them as a trading post.

When the Voortrekkers came to Natal in 1836, and fierce battles with the Zulus were on the daily agenda, Durban was also frequently threatened by attacks. After the defeat of the Zulus in the Battle of Blood River, there was peace for a while, but soon the British and the Voortrekkers started to fight for supremacy over Natal. Ultimately, the bitter conflicts were decided in favour of the British. In 1844, Natal became a Crown Colony and the Voortrekkers retreated.


In 1845 Natal became a separate district of the Cape Colony, but in 1870 it was made a separate colony. In 1994 the then Province of Natal was renamed Kwazulu-Natal.




The  Natal Lieutenant-Governor Robert Keate was on 14 September 1869, requested by the secretary of State that ÿou will, with the advice of your legislative Council, cause to be prepared the sketch of such a badge as it may be proposed to adopt for this  purpose in the colony under your Government”.

In August 1870 the legislative council of Natal adopted a badge showing two black wildebeest  (Connochaetus gnou - Bovidæ) in full course running to the sinister  in front of mountains, surrounded by a frame which is topped by the Royal Arms. Around the frame was the legend: VICTORIA DEI GRATIA BRITTANIAR. REG. F.D. COLONY OF NATAL.

This arrangement was the idea of Captain Hine who had designed a flag of the Governor of the Colony of Natal in 1869 on which this device, surrounded by a garland, was placed in the middle of the Union Jack. [1]



The badge adopted in August 1870.

(Photo Natal Archives)



As this badge was too complicated,  it was simplified on 23 August 1875 by leaving out the frame with the Royal Arms and the legend. Instead the imperial state crown was added. On the merchant flag the ancient badge was maintained until 1910. [2]


The badge of  23 August 1875 [3]







After British and Boer mercenaries had helped Dinuzulu defeat his rival Usibepu for succession of the Zulu throne, land and farming rights were granted to them along the banks of the Mfolozi River. On August 5, 1884 the mercenaries formed the Nieuwe Republiek (New Republic) with Vryheid as its capital. In 1888 it was incorporated into the South African Republic, but in 1903, at the end of the Second Boer War the town and its surrounding area was absorbed into Natal. Vryheid is located along the Spoornet Coaline.



The arms shows a quarterly with a base: In the first a wagon, in the second a tent, in the third a buffalo, in the fourth a sailing ship and in the fifth a Jefferson plow. In nombril point is an anchor per pale. [4]

The seal shows this coat of arms within an ornamental frame with a motto below and a torch as a crest. As supporters two national flags, being of three horizontal stripes red, white and green and a blue stripe along the mast, in saltire.






The arms of Natal granted in 1907


The two black wildebeesten of the badge of 1875 were later incorporated in a coat of arms which was granted by Royal Warrant of 16 May 1907. On this occasion the direction of the running wildebeesten was changed into running to the dexter which is the normal course in heraldry as running to the sinister means that they were running away.

The Royal Warrant was published by Government Notice No. 470 of 9 August (1907). The arms are described as:

“Azure in front of Mountains and on a plain two Black Wildebeesten in full course at random, all proper.”




The seal of King Edward VII (1901-’10) for Natal.


This shows the crowned arms with the title of the colony on a ribbon, surrounded by the legend: EDWARDVS VII D: G: BRITT. ET TERRARVM TRANSMAR: QVÆ IN DIT: SVNT BRIT: REX  F:D: CD: IMP:




The arms of Natal adopted in 1954.


The arms of 1907 were officially adopted by the province in 1954, but with the addition of a crown as crest and a scroll bearing the word NATAL like on the Royal Seal of King Edward VII. [5]




During the first ten years of its existence, KwaZulu-Natal used the arms of both Natal and KwaZulu, in alliance, to represent the province. In this alliance the achievement of Natal was on the dexter, and the one of KwaZulu on the sinister.


KwaZulu-Natal adopted a new coat of arms only after a full decade of its existence. The English version of the official blazon appears below. The blazon has been prepared in both English and isiZulu – the first time any coat of arms has been officially blazoned in South Africa in any language besides English and Afrikaans. The blazon reads:


Arms: Argent, a fess dancetty Vert, in base, within a bordure dovetailed of the last, a Strelitzia flower proper, on a chief dancetty Azure, filleted of the first, a mullet Argent. The shield is ensigned of a headring Or, thereupon a Zulu hut proper. Behind the shield a spear and knobkierie in saltire proper.

Supporters: On a compartment vert, the lower edge Or, dexter a lion and sinister a black wildebeest proper.

Motto: MASISIKUME SAKHE (Let us Stand up and Build)


ð see illustration in the head of this essay




The shield has the shape of a Nguni shield formerly also common in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Amazulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi. This consisted of cowhide  pierced by a wooden pole. With its large height of 1,25 to 2 metres it covered almost all of the warrior. [6]

The Strelitzia reginæ  flower, commonly known as the crane flower or bird-of-paradise flower is indigenous in the warm valleys of Zululand near the sea.

The fess,  represents the Drakensberg range

Green is the overall colour of the landscape in KwaZulu-Natal.

The assegai and the  knobkierie are the traditional symbols of chiefly authority.

The crest is a beehive hut, the traditional structure used in erecting the homes of the abeNguni.

The natural lion (Leo leo), represents the authority of the Zulu king.

The black wildebeest or gnu (Connochætes gnou- Bovidæ), is taken from the arms of Natal.



More detailed information about the arms of Kwazulu Natal



© Hubert de Vries 2009.03.11

[1]  Leverton, B.J.: The origin of the Natal coat of arms. In: Lantern, v. 12, n° 1, Sept. 1962, pp. 77-81. Pama, C.: Lions and Virgins. Heraldic state symbols, coats of arms, flags, seals and other symbols of authority in South Africa, 1487-1962. Cape Town, 1965. Pp. 53-54.

[2]  See: Roberto Bresci who also gives a colored reconstruction.

[3]  This version from: Drawings of the Flags in use at the Present Time by Various Nations. Admiralty, 1915.

[4]  Neubecker, Ottfried & W. Rentzmann: Wappen Bilder Lexicon. München, 1974, p. 368

[5]  Brownell, F.G.: National and Provincial Symbols and flora and fauna emblems of the Republic of South Africa. Johannesburg, 1993. Ch. 9. Picture n° 9.6. 

[6]  Shields, Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania. Munich, 2000.  p. 124 ill.