Close this search box.

South Africa Coat of Arms – Symbols and Meanings

south africa coat of arms symbols and meanings
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more information.

Perhaps you have seen the South Africa Coat of Arms but you’re not sure what it means. Here’s a complete rundown of its symbols and meanings.

The Motto

The South Africa Coat of Arms motto is: !ke e: /xarra //ke.

The motto was written in the Khoisan language of the /Xam people. It literally means: diverse people unite.

The motto addresses the effort to harness the unity between thought and action. It calls for a national sense of belonging, pride and for the nation to unite – Unity in Diversity.

Symbols and Meanings

South Africa’s coat of arms was introduced on 27 April 2000 – Freedom Day. It replaced the previous coat of arms, which was used since 1932 (and during the Apartheid era). Here are the symbols and the meaning of each:

The Rising Sun

The rising sun represents splendor,  brightness, natural energy, the promise of rebirth, knowledge, good judgment, reflection, and willpower. It symbolizes light, the source of life, and the ultimate wholeness of humanity.

The Secretary Bird

The secretary bird symbolizes flight, the natural consequence of growth and speed, and the protection of the nation against its enemies. The bird is gold,  clearly symbolizing its association with the sun and the highest power.

The uplifted wings of the secretary bird are an emblem of:

  • the ascendance of the South African nation, 
  • the protection of the nation.

The Protea

The protea is South Africa’s national flower. The King protea symbolizes the beauty of South Africa and the flowering of its potential as a nation.

The King protea represents the holistic integration of forces that grow from our earth and nurtured from above.

The colors of the protea are important – it represents South Africa’s national colors: green, gold, red, and black.

The Spear and Knobkierie

They are symbols of defense and authority. Because they are lying down, they also symbolize peace.

The Shield

The shield has a dual function: it represents the identity of the country and spiritual defense. 

The Human Figures

The figures represent the Khoisan, the oldest known inhabitants of South Africa. This symbolizes humanity and South Africa’s heritage.

The figures are greeting, symbolizing unity. This is also representative of a person’s transformation into a greater sense of belonging to the nation and humanity, (ubuntu).

The Ears of Wheat

The meaning of the ears of wheat is twofold. They symbolize:

  • fertility, germination, growth, and the development of potential.
  • nourishment of the people and the agricultural aspects of the Earth.

Elephant Tusks

The elephants symbolize strength, wisdom,  eternity, and moderation.

south africa coat of arms symbols and meanings

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About The Author

Hi! We’re the Cheltens’. We visit South Africa 1-2 times per year. We want to share our experiences with you so that you may make educated decisions when you plan your next trip to the rainbow nation.

Recommended Reads
Want to have your business or product featured?

We’re always looking for awesome places, products, travel accessories, or anything else that promotes the rich and colorful culture of South Africa.
Contact Us

Culture Categories