In March 1984 the City of Grahamstown adopted a flag, one of six designs prepared by heraldic expert Prof. Hugh Smith, of Rhodes University. Ten years later it was registered and was gazetted on the same day (in 1994) together with the coat of arms. It is described as: "A rectangular flag in the proportion 2:3, per saltire red and black, charged with a saltire between above and below an annulet, all yellow, and in the hoist and the fly a white escallop".
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The town's name change from Grahamstown to Makhanda was officially gazetted on 29 June 2018. The town was officially renamed to Makhanda in memory of Xhosa warrior and prophet Makhanda ka Nxele.