Not many people know this, but former British protectorate, Botswana adopted its current flag in 1966 to replace the Union Jack. Formerly known as Bechuanaland under the protection of Britain, Botswana had no distinct national symbols of its own before gaining its independence from Britain.
Botswana adopted the current flag on the 30th September 1966, the day of its independence. Unlike many African countries whose leading party colours are incorporated into the country flag, the Botswana flag doesn’t follow this trend. The colours of the Botswana flag carry both cultural and political meanings.
Light blue – signifies water, in particular rainwater. This is because water is a precious and scarce commodity in Botswana. Botswana has a sizeable agricultural sector (or historically used to, before the long spells of drought) and therefore needs as much water as possible to keep it going. Botswana being semi-arid, coupled with the effects of climate change, means it doesn’t receive as much water as it needs. That’s one of the reasons for which Botswana values water to this degree.
Blue also carries a wider meaning that conveys the idea that rain is the provider of life. This is carried over to every day life, with the people of Botswana often greeting each other with a shout of Pula! – which literally means rain. Pula can be used as a greeting, to welcome people, to bid people farewell, or as a blessing, among others.
So valuable and important is rain to Botswana that the currency is called the Pula (bank notes). The importance of water, or more specifically rain, to Botswana can never be overstated. Rain is also represented in the Botswana coat of arms. It appears as a single word, denoting rain and hope for the future.
The Black and White Stripes – Signify the racial diversity that exists in Botswana as well as the harmonious cooperation that exists between people of different races who live in Botswana. Additionally, the black and white stripes also stand for the stripes on the national animal of Botswana, the Zebra.