Ethnic / Cultural Diversity, Johannesburg
The selection and performance of national anthems must be one of the most emotive of cultural issues.
To my mind, national anthems are meant to be rousing and inspirational pieces of music that reflect a nation's sense of self image: however, it's all too easy for them to descend into the realms of worthy-but-dreary dirges burdened with politically correct lyrics. And when you're dealing with a country such as ours which has experienced such political turbulence and transition in recent years, you very quickly get onto really tricky ground.
Prior to the transition to democracy in 1994, the South African anthem was a 'blood and guts', barnstorming call to arms called 'Die Stem van Suid Afrika' ('The Call of South Africa'). In fact, Die Stem was a 'co anthem' between 1936 and 1957 - at which time 'God Save the King/Queen' was also the national anthem, prior to South Africa cutting loose from the Commonwealth and becoming a Republic. Confused??? Well, hold on to your hat, because it's about to get even more confusing ...
The Afrikaans version of 'Die Stem' contained reference to 'groan of ox wagon' and mention of being 'dedicated and true as Afrikaaners', and was the clarion call of an Afrikaaner nation that felt itself under siege during the apartheid era. It doesn't take much imagination to realise that once South Africa had become a multiracial democracy, 'Die Stem' was clearly an unsuitable national anthem. The salomonic - but somewhat clumsy - solution that South Africa arrived at on in 1996 was to develop a 'hybrid' anthem, comprising a section of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (with verses sung in Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho), followed by two verses from the former anthem, Die Stem, with one each being sung in Afrikaans and English.
The hymn 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika' ('God Bless Africa') is a gorgeous piece of music, and with the beautiful harmonies that African choirs impart to its performance, it is often regarded as a typical piece of African music. It therefore comes as something of a shock to realise that the melody was written by a Welshman, Joseph Parry, in 1887 and was originally titled' 'Aberystwyth'!
'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika''s lyrics were written by a Methodist missionary, Enoch Sontonga, in 1897, and the hymn was first recorded by the African National Congress (ANC)'s first secretary general, Sol Plaatje in 1923 (more about this fascinating man on my Kimberley page). The ANC formally adopted 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika' as its anthem in 1925, and since then, it has become almost the 'default' anthem for sub Saharan African countries on achieving independence. Confusingly, at one point in time, it was the national anthem of five different African nations, and is still the anthem of three - Zambia, Tanzania and part of the South African 'hybrid' anthem - Zimbabwe and Namibia having since made other arrangements!
Unlikely though it might seem for a developing country, South Africa's advertising is world class and regularly wins international awards.
It's interesting to speculate on the reasons why this might be the case. My personal take is that our advertisers have to be particularly creative because we have such a varied demographic in terms of language (we have 11 official ones), culture and education level. Unusually for a developing nation, we also have a pretty liberal press (although the current ANC government is controversially trying to curb press freedom, much to the protest of the local and international media and civil society). Also the South African sense of humour (if one can generalise on such a scale) is generally heavy on irony, satire and self-deprocation, which probably reflects the British colonial influence.
A company which provides an excellent example of outstanding advertising is the low cost airline Kulula. Their brand is satirical and quirky, as evidenced by these two examples: having suffered indignities one too many times at the hands of airport security, the ad about "Boarding massage. You can feel the stress fall away" cracked me up, and I almost drove off the road the first time I saw it! Similarly, the "Tourists. Awesome to teach Afrikaans swear words to" ad just sums up the playfulness of South African humour.
Kulula's in flight commentary is equally amusing and flippant, and certainly is way more entertaining than their competitors - if you are considering flight options and all other things are equal, this is as good a deciding factor as any! However, safety is the one topic that I don't think airlines should joke about, and when briefing us on emergency procedures I was not best amused to be informed that "if you are travelling with more than one child, decide which one you love most ..." (following a spirited series of exchanges with various levels of management in Kulula, this part of their repertoire was subsequently dropped ...)
Another brand known for their entertaining advertising is the Portuguese-style fast food chicken chain Nando's (which specialises in political satire, and owes more than a little of its inspiration to Spitting Image). Follow this link for their brilliant 'Last Dictator Standing' commercial - just be warned that this is not for the Politically Correct: Last Dictator Standing
If the topic of advertising is of interest, also see my travel tip on Chapman's Peak Drive in Cape Town, which inadvertently provided the venue for one of the most famous comparative advertising campaigns ever (which is still used as a case study in management schools worldwide).
For a long time after I moved to South Africa, I couldn't work out why so many Afrikaaners' forenames (Christian names) didn't match their initials, which was really confusing in a business context ...
And then I twigged ... unlike English diminutives, which shorten the name based on the first part of the word, Afrikaans diminutives tend to focus on the latter. Sounds complicated? Well, not really once you have a few examples to consider.
Take my name, 'Catherine/Katherine'. The English abbreviated versions all focus on the first parts of the name - hence 'Cathy', 'Cath', 'Kate', 'Cate', 'Katie', 'Katy' and the like. Whereas in Afrikaans, the equivalent - Katerina - would be shortened to 'Rina'.
Some other examples from Afrikaans (all of which fail to match with the 'official initial)' are as follows:
'Albertus' becomes 'Bertus'
'Martinus' becomes 'Tinus'
'Bastiaan' becomes 'Tiaan'
'Petronella' becomes 'Ronel'
'Amanda' becomes 'Manda'
'Johannes' becomes 'Hannes'
Get the hang of it? Simple when you have it explained, and utterly confusing when you have to figure it out for yourself!
The Xhosa people live in the Republic of South Africa. They have traditionally been known as cattle herders living in beehive shaped huts.
Many of them move to JNB , hoping to find work. Attached is a picture of a typical Xhosa Women.
The early pioneers who settled on the almost treeless (a few thornbushes notwithstanding) gold bearing reef in the Highveld in 1886 experienced a fuel and timber shortage which compelled them to start planting trees, initially fast growing exotic ones, but later indigenous ones. Johannesburg had its first Arbor Day on 1 February 1890, a day which is now celebrated on 1 September each year. By June 1893 it was estimated that some 25 to 30 million trees had been planted.Soon the bleak, inhospitible veld became a planted forest and is now possibly the largest planted forest in the world, together with the abundant birdlife of any other forest.
The biggest afforestation scheme was that of Herman Eckstein & Co, who bought the farm Braamfontein, imported a German forester, Genth, and planted 300 ha of pine and eucalyptus trees in an area named Sachsenwald (today's Saxonwold). Part of this area, the Zoo Lake and the Zoo were officially established as a park in 1904, and handed over as the Herman Eckstein Park, to be used as a 'park for all people, for all time'.
The summer vista over almost any part of Johannesburg shows the abundance of trees, and in late spring, early summer the beautiful Jacarandas give Pretoria, the Jacaranda City, a good run for its money. Jacaranda trees are exotic and people are discouraged from planting them now.
South Africa'a artworld suffered greatly under Apartheid.
Artwork and song lyrics were flooded with anti-apartheid themes, and were forced underground.
To listen to one of these songs, or to own one of these paintings was evidence enough that you were a traitor and you could be thrown into prison!
The bulldozing of both District Six, a vibrant multicultural area in Cape Town, and Johannesburg’s Sophiatown, where internationally famous musicians learned their craft in an area once described as ’a skeleton with a permanent grin’ are two important examples of this... where communities were literally 'wiped out'.
Groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Soweto String Quartet, Tree63, Johnny Clegg and Mango Groove have managed to bring South African sound to a worldwide (and appreciative!) audiance.
The Afrikaners have a very distinct culture of their own, from their dress to their art.
Today's rural communities are still quite conservative in most ways.
The majority of European (white) South Africans are of British extraction (like me and my husband!).
There is also a large and influential Jewish population and Indian minority.
The 'coloured' community has a very unique and 'colourful' culture all of their own :)
The Ndebele are a related group, who live in the Northern Transvaal in strikingly painted houses.
They have very traditional beliefs and culture, especially in the rural areas of South Africa.
In the cities they have become more westernised, as their culture has intermingled with others.
One of the most exciting elements in South Africa is that it is in the continual process of reinventing itself, it's outlook and understanding of eachother.
Peoples’ attitudes have changed across the colour barrier and people have hope.
A new South African culture is being created, sans colour or one culture's tradition standing in the way and impeding positive development.
We still have a long way to go, but the progress that's been made since 1994 has been hugely significant! :)
Hey guys , I just wanna show you the various traditional wear. I was walking in the parking lot of a park and I just had to take a photo of this lady.
There is various tribes amongst the black people of South Africa and I don`t know which tribe this lady belongs to.
Anyway just wanted to give you an idea of the traditional dress wear
He guys before I forget , the Heia Safari Ranch has this Zulu Village and you get can get a glimpse of the culture and customs of the Zulu people. You will see the village when you do the game drive.
Its quiet nice to see , especially if you tourist. You can also buy tradition Zulu soveniors at the shop they have there. After we had lunch there was these Zulu Dancers doing some Zulu dance , quiet interesting to see.
Zulu tribe is famous in South Africa, very interesting. Women dress with short skirts, and bare-breast, men wear short pants and children may go naked sometimes.
You can interact with them in their natural settings in Kwa-Zulu Natal province or at cultural villages for tourists.
Next to johannesburg there are two cities,first the cosmopolitan sun city,with its own luxury casino,right photos 1 and 2. second the poor BIGEST BLACK city OF THE WORLD name SOVETO left photos number one sobeto,photo no 2 in to soveto NELSONS MANDELA house.
as a returning SA diasporian, we want to see the familiar landmarks, travel the familiar routes of ones youth
I was struck by the contrasts developing in Soweto. Many neighbors like the one in the picture could be mistaken for a middle class neighbor anywhere in the world.