What Do the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of Botswana Mean?

By Vic Lang'at Junior on April 28 2018 in World Facts

The flag of Botswana.

Botswana's national flag features light blue, black, and white horizontal bands of varying thicknesses. Thick light blue bands are featured at the top and bottom of the flag, followed by thin white bands, and a black bank in the center. Botswana gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, and adopted the new flag that year as a replacement for the Union Jack that had been imposed in order to demonstrate British colonial rule. Botswana is among a limited number of countries that did not include red, green, and yellow on its flag, which are the colors of the Pan-African movement that tried to unite the people of the Africa.


Botswana was named Bechuanaland prior to its independence in 1966. In 1885, Bechuanaland became a British colonial territory. Bechuanaland became colonized after the Tswana people entered into an agreement with the British for protection against the Boers of South Africa, thus becoming a protectorate. The Boers wanted Bechuanaland to join the union of South Africa, which was made up of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and Orange River colonies that had unified although they were formally separate colonies. Despite entering into a contract with the British, the Boers pressured the British for Bechuanaland to join their union. The Boers' demand was opposed by Batswana until Bechuanaland gained independence from Britain in 1966. The flag of Botswana was raised for the first time on September 30, 1966, which is Botswana’s Independence Day.

Design of the Flag of Botswana

Botswana's national flag design contains significant symbolism. The flag was intended to be distinguished from the South African flag, since South Africa was governed by a system of division according to skin color and origin. Hence, the black bars and white borders were included, representing the peace and accord between the blacks and whites residing in Botswana.

Every color chosen on the flag has social, administrative and local significance. The light shade of blue color represents water a vital supply for agriculture to thrive, as the people of Botswana depend on farming. The water is obtained from rain, although Botswana experiences a frequent lack of rainfall due to its dry and arid climatic conditions influenced by the Kalahari Desert. The blue color also hints at the guiding principle depicted on Botswana's coat of arms. The coat of arms was called pula in Setswana which means "Let there be rain.” Blue also represents life, which depends on water.

The black and white colors symbolize accord and collaboration amongst the people of diverse races and cultures living in Botswana. Secondly, black and white symbolize the stripes of a zebra, which is considered a symbol of natural abundance and is Botswana's national animal.

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