Cultural Facts on South Africa

The Republic of South Africa is a diverse country made up of nine provinces. Located at the southern tip of the African continent, South Africa’s citizens come from all over the world and speak a multitude of languages, including the country’s recognized 11 official tongues. The country has been the site of major cultural tensions over the years, some of which have ended up in extreme violence; much of this dates back to the country’s conflict with colonialism.


Almost 80 percent of South Africa’s residents identify themselves as black, but there are numerous cultural heritages in this group. The other 20 percent is Caucasian and mostly of European descent: Many of the country’s white residents are a product of the colonialism of the 1800s. Dutch settlers fended off the British settlers and established their own colonies. The country was largely segregated by the apartheid laws until the early 1990s. About 80 percent of the country’s citizens identify themselves as Christian; Islam and Hinduism come in a very distant second and third, respectively.


South Africa’s 11 official languages, recognized since 1997, are English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Zulu, Venda and Xhosa. Of these, Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans have been reported in South African census data to be the most widely spoken in South African homes. Because of the country’s history with colonialism, visitors also will find that many groups also speak European languages like Portuguese, German, Greek and French. English is the language spoken in the corporate and political worlds, but is spoken by only about 9 percent of private households.


South Africa is home to some of the oldest artwork ever found: Small snail shells with holes drilled into them that functioned as beads for a necklace were found in a cave and have been dated to 75,000 years ago. The ancient rock paintings of the San people are another archaeological, artistic wonder. During the apartheid era that began at the end of World War II, between 1948 and 1994, art became very diverse, reflecting both old tribal forms and modern European tendencies.


South African music has been affected by the slave trade, missionaries, old African instruments and European sensibilities. Many black South African musicians switched back from Afrikaans or English to their native languages to protest apartheid, and continue to create music in this style; they see utilizing old tribal languages in a new style called kwaito as a way of fighting back against the colonialist project. Kwaito remains one of the country’s most popular forms. Noteworthy artists with worldwide acclaim who hail from South Africa include Ladysmith Black Mombazo and the Soweto String Quartet.

Source – traveltips


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