South Africa

"Unity In Diversity"
11 Official Languages: Afrikaans, Nbebele, North and Southern Sotho and Tswana, Swazi, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
49.3 million (2009 estimate)

South AfricaSouth Africa

Brief history: 

South Africa is located on the southern tip of Africa on the Indian and Pacific Oceans. South Africa is known for a diversity in cultures, languages, and religious beliefs. There are eleven official languages with English spoken primarily for administration. The people of South Africa are a multicultural blend that reflect their complex history.

When Europeans came to South Africa in 4th to 5th century two major indigeneous groups lived there the Xhosa and Zulu peoples. Today about 79.5% of the South African population is of black African ancestry. South Africa also contains the largest European, Indian, and racially-mixed communities in Africa.

South Africa became a republic in 1961. The government continued its legislated racial segregation policy of apartheid policy from 1948 until it was finally dismantled in 1990.

Main cities:

  • Pretoria (executive capital)
  • Bloemfontein (judicial capital)
  • Cape Town aka Mother City(legislative capital)
  • Johannesburg aka Joburg, eGoli or City of Gold(largest city)
  • Durban aka Sun City (third largest city)

Geographically the country is as diverse as its people. South Africa has 3000 km of coastline (diving is one of the most popular pastimes), boasts vast mountains like Table Top and the magestic Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal region, and diverse wild life. South Africa also hosts eight World Heritage sites.

A popular word for South Africa is 'Mzansi' means 'the South'.

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part HarmonyAmandla! A Revolution in Four-Part HarmonyAmandla! A Revolution in Four- Part Harmony A 2002 documentary film gives a chronological history about the struggles of apartheid.

Watch the film on Youtube here

World Music: 

There is great diversity in music from South Africa. Many black musicians who sang in Afrikaans or English during apartheid have since begun to sing in traditional African languages, and have developed a unique style called Kwaito (house music with African sounds). Musicians to know:

  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo
  • Brenda Fassie famous for her song "Weekend Special"
  • World-famous jazz musicians, notably Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Abdullah Ibrahim, Miriam Makeba, Jonathan Butler, Chris McGregor, and Sathima Bea Benjamin
  • Traditional classics Soweto String Quartet
  • Afrikaans music by Steve Hofmeyr and the punk rock band Fokofpolisiekar.
  • Verity (internationally recognized for innovation in the music industry)
  • Johnny Clegg and his bands Juluka and Savuka


Braai is an outdoor barbecue

Influential People: 

African Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu
Famous South African soccer players - Steve 'Kalamazoo' Mokone, Lucas Radebe, Jomo Sono, Benni McCarthy, Doctor Khumalo