THE HAGUE – On Wednesday, December 7, 2022, members of the South African Legion (Europe Branch) raised a brand new South African flag to inaugurate a new seven-metre flagpole, presented to the South African Embassy in The Hague, the Netherlands. The new flagpole was accepted by H.E. SA Ambassador Vusi Madonsela, at a moving ceremony also attended by Counsellor Political Olitha Lebelo, and Embassy and Consular staff.
The inauguration is the culmination of a project that was hatched in 2020, when several South Africans in the Netherlands pointed out that the existing flagpole at the SA Embassy in The Hague had ‘seen better days’. The Ambassador acknowledged at the time that the flagpole was beyond its ‘best before’ date, but that considering all kinds of priorities within SA, budgets for foreign missions are understandably tight.
So the veterans of the SA Legion put their heads together – soldiers don’t deal in problems, we deal in solutions. After all, the SA Embassy is our primary ‘flag station’ in the Netherlands, at an Embassy that plays an important role in international relations, due to the prominence of The Hague in relation to e.g. international relations, justice, and trade.
After some delays due to the Covid lockdowns, and a few Plan-Bs and Plan-Cs, the Legionnaires soon raised sufficient funds to have a new flagpole professionally installed, complete with a ‘boiler plate’ for posterity.
On the morning of December 7, the small gathering was welcomed by Third Secretary Jaymion Hendricks, who served as the key liaison with the SA Legion on the project. He began by quoting Nelson Mandela:
“Where people of goodwill get together and transcend their differences for the common good, peaceful and just solutions can be found even for those problems which seem most intractable.”
After a minute’s reflection, Lgr. Henry van Vuuren ceremoniously raised a brand new SA flag to the top of a mast that is sure to stand tall for many years to come.
SA Legion Europe Chair, Lgr Andrew Bergman, officially presented the flagpole to H.E. Ambassador Vusi Madonsela, as well as a presentation case for two marine-grade heavy duty flags (standard and storm size), proudly made in South Africa. He also presented the Ambassador with a Certificate of Appreciation “in grateful recognition of many years of cordial cooperation and support, especially with regard to commemorating the South African Fallen who lie buried or commemorated in the Netherlands”.
Accepting the new flagpole, Ambassador Madonsela pointed out the international significance of the elegant Embassy in The Hague, which has been witness to so many changes in South African history. He also welcomed the gesture by the SA Legion as a symbol of engagement by the expat community [est. 31,000 ed], and that it signifies the first step in a programme of renovations and renewal planned for the Embassy over the coming years.