Frederick Brownell passed away on Friday, 10 May, at a time when South Africa was undergoing its sixth transitional phase.
The news of his unfortunate passing came just two days after the country had gone to the polls to elect a new leader.
The 79-year-old was very much a part of our historic transition from apartheid to a more inclusive and democratic system in 1994.
His contribution to it, with the creation of the modern South African flag, immortalised him as one who will always be remembered for envisaging the convergence and unity that was birthed from the ashes of tyranny.
It was in May, 37 years ago, when Brownell was promoted to State Herald at the South African Bureau of Heraldry. Prior to that, he had been an assistant State Herald for five years.
His duty was to design coats of arms, badges and flags. He is even credited as the designer of the flag of Namibia.
But none was more important, both in his career and in the country’s history, than the creation of the modern South African flag.
Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, in his reaction to the news of Brownell’s passing, recalled the time when the late 79-year-old delivered the designs of the flag just in time for its proclamation on 20 April 1994.
“After 3 years of failed attempts, on the night of 25 August 1993 Fred Brownell doodled an idea on the back of a congress program based on the idea of the convergence of South Africa’s peoples into one nation. This idea is what was to become the 1st flag of democratic South Africa,” Mthethwa tweeted.