Last modified: 2019-08-06 by bruce berry
Keywords: zaire | navy |
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There is a fascinating story about how the naval ensign of
Za´re (now Democratic
Republic of Congo) came to be formalized and then made by a South African
flag manufacturer that was published in SAVA Newsletter SN75/16 (August
The story begins in the late 1980s when South Africa was still very much the pariah state in Africa and did not have diplomatic relations with any black African country, save for Malawi. Trade and diplomatic links which did take place between the apartheid regime and the rest of Africa were clandestine and covert.
In 1988/89 the South African Navy was involved in a secret project to establish a credible naval capability for Za´re and provide the country with the ability to protect its waters as well as conduct rescue missions.
Involved in the project was SAVA member Arne Soderlund, who also decided that the Za´re Navy needed a Ĺproperĺ ensign as the ones he had seen appeared to be hand-made and lacking in consistency. He did some drawings with specifications and had about twenty manufactured by National Flag in South Africa, which was sworn to secrecy. These were based on illustrations used on the Zaire Navy letterheads, the national flag and from the personal observation of the handmade versions seen on the local vessels.
The South African manufactured ensigns were sent to Za´re on board the SAS Drakensberg on 01 September 1990. Each vessel and the Chief of the Navy were presented with one and the rest went to their naval stores.
The design appears to be based on the naval ensign of Belgium in that it had a green saltire on a white field. In the centre of the saltire is the national emblem of Za´re as found on the national flag. In the upper quadrant are two cannons in black in saltire and in the bottom quadrant is a stylised anchor, also in black.
Bruce Berry, 05 Jan 2018