National Coat of Arms

A focal point of the coat of arms is the indigenous secretary bird with its uplifted wings, crowned with an image of the rising sun. The sun symbolises a life-giving force, and represents the flight of darkness and the triumph of discovery, knowledge and understanding of things that have been hidden. It also illuminates the new life that is coming into being. An indigenous South African flower, the protea, is placed below the bird. It represents beauty, the aesthetic harmony of the different cultures, and South Africa flowering as a nation. The ears of wheat symbolise the fertility of the land, while the tusks of the African elephant, depicted in pairs to represent men and women, also represent wisdom, steadfastness and strength.

The shield, placed in the centre, signifies the protection of South Africans from one generation to the next. The spear and a knobkierie above it are representative of the defence of peace rather than the pursuit of war. This shield of peace, which also brings to mind an African drum, conveys the message of a people imbued with a love of culture. Its upper part is a shield imaginatively repre sented by the protea.

Contained within the shield are some of the earliest representations of humanity. Those depicted were the very first inhabitants of the land, namely the Khoisan people. These figures are derived from images on the Linton Stone, a world-famous example of South African rock art. The motto on the coat of arms, !ke e:/xarra//ke, written in the Khoisan language of the /Xam people, means “diverse people unite” or “people who are different joining together”.