South Africa Local Customs

  • The Minstrel Festival, Jan 2014
    The Minstrel Festival, Jan 2014
    by MM212
  • Church of the good shepherd, Robben island.
    Church of the good shepherd, Robben...
    by Pod
  • Church sign. Robben island.
    Church sign. Robben island.
    by Pod

South Africa Local Customs

  • Ethnic / Cultural Diversity

    Johannesburg Local Customs

    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...

  • Food & Drink

    Johannesburg Local Customs

    if your'e into wines , as so many are or you want to be seen or you want to meet the Cape's best winemakers. or you want to taste the top wines of the year or Platter's 5 * star wines or just have a cheap evening out WITH FRIENDS or oenophiles then every year last week of October at the Sandton Convention centre 5 -9pm daily the RMB Winex is...

  • Is it Fanagalo ???

    useful lingua franca : Local slang for foreign visitorsAikôna - no, amazementBra, bru - brother/Dof - stupidDonner - batterEina - ouchEish - sympathetic exclamationG-string - BMW 3 seriesHau - expression of astonishmentHowzit - hulloHola - greetingsJislaaik - you don't sayJol - partyJust now/now now - laterKak - not so goodKif - niceLekker -...

  • Townships

    I did not get to visit a township until my second visit to South Africa. It was something I had long wanted to do. I came away with a mix of emotions. I loved the children and was amazed at how happy they were and they seemed to have so little. I was saddened by the very obvious poverty. The inhabitants lived in the most humble of shacks which were...

  • Zola Budd, athlete or taxi?

    Zola Budd epitomises much of the best of South African culture.There is no doubt in the minds of South Africans that sport is one of the strongest elements which contributes to the delicate and important process of nation building. There are few South African athletes who have made such a startling contribution to the South African sporting culture...

  • Code Switching

    South Africa has eleven official languages. It is also a cultural "melting pot" to use an overused idiom, and one will hear most other African and world languages here on any given day. Our own people tend to mix English into most of their conversation, so you are likely to understand part of the conversation. Even when they speak English there is...

  • "Now", "now now" and "just now"

    Visitors to South Africa may be somewhat bewildered by the locals' loose use of the seemingly simple word "now" - which comes in three main forms ("now", "now now" and "just now").The beginners guide to South African nows is as follows:* "Now" means pretty well what it would mean anywhere else in the world - but doesn't imply much of a sense of...

  • A delicacy - biltong

    Biltong is basically dried meat. It is typically South African, although one finds it in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe as well. While the meat of any animal can be used to make biltong, you are most likely to run into beef or ostrich biltong. My favourite, although very difficult to get, and very expensive even if one can get it, is eland biltong....

  • Goggas - local terminology

    A "gogga" is any insect or arachnid - a "creepy crawly" (but "Creepy Crawlies" here are pool filtration systems). The word is derived from the KhoiSan languages. The "g" is pronounced like the "ch" in the Scottish "loch". It is doubled when it is repeated, giving the word a very gutteral sound. One of our most feared "goggas" is the "Parktown...

  • Gifts giving and receiving

    Gift giving in any culture can be fraught with cultural dangers. In South Africa it takes the following forms.Gifts are opened immediately in the presence of the gift giver. Special note for dealing with black people. It is considered polite to use two hands when giving and receiving anything and even the exchange of money for everyday business...


    South Africa uses 230 V 50 Hz for its domestic supply and a 3 round pin plug. This consists of 2 circular metal pins with a large circular grounding pin (pictured). Bizarrely some electrical appliances like fans use a simple 2 small pin European plug. Look at that picture again! You may need 2 adapters – not just one!

  • South Africa's biggest church

    The biggest religious denomination in South Africa is the Zion Christian Church (or ZCC). It is an African Initiated Church, (an African indigenous church, also known as African Independent Churches because they are not under white control) and has an estimated 10 to 15 million members. This is approximately one in four or five South Africans, and...

  • Gumboot Dancing

    Gumboot Dance goes back to the times when the workers at the gold and diamond mines in South Africa were not allowed to talk with each other. Instead the people invented a new language by stomping on the ground with their gumboots and clapping on the shafts. This has later developed into a dance culture of its own.The pictures and the video were...

  • Greeting

    It is customary to greet people by shaking hands. If you meet a black person, it is a tripple shaking ritual which you will easily learn. Europeans use a single hand shake. Family members and close friends do greet with a kiss.Hello, Hi, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good night, Bey, Cheers - are all commonly used

  • Biltong

    Biltong is a favourite delicacy in South Africa. It is dried meat which is quite spicy. Biltong made from beef is most probably the most common, but do try Springbok, Kudu and Ostrich biltong.You will find biltong in most supermarkets.

  • Braai

    You will most probably hear this word when you visit SA. It is the local word used for a barbeque - and is VERY popular in SA. Usually a braai would include meat (lamb, beef, pork) chicken, sosaties (kebabs), boerewors (local spicy sausage) and salads. Depending on the area of the country, you might also have roosterkoek (it is bread made on the...

  • South African English

    English is spoken by most South Africans, although it might not be their first language. Most South Africans can speak more than one language. We have 11 official languages! The business language is English.You might here words used which sound unfamiliar.Once you have been in SA, you will recognize the SA accent very easily!Words from Afrikaans...

  • Afrikaans

    A lot of South Africans speak english, however it is interweaven with afrikaans as well. Here are some words and sentences you might encounter:Goeiemorre - Good morningHoe gaan dit - How are youGoed - GoodJa - YesNee - NoAsseblief - Please(Baaie) dankie - Thank you (very much)Braai - Barbeque (you'll have to attend one, it is awesome)Lekker -...

  • Greeting etiquette

    It is never good to make a bad impression on people when you first meet them - even if it is only because of cultural differences.Our friends luckily pointed out to us, how a proper greeting etiquette works in South Africa - and boy, was I glad to know that!!! Before you start any conversation, you should greet the person in a way like this:"Good...

  • Getting to know South Africa

    South Africa has such an amazing history and getting to know this history will really increase your enjoyment of this country. Here are a few good books I've read (more to come):The Callings of Katie Makanya - This is a biography of an amazing life of Katie who was born in 1873.Soweto portrait of a city.


    This is a screen from an ATM. Yes, that is 8 languages listed for you to choose from! There are 11 official languages in South Africa. They are:Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. English is almost universally understood.


    The amazingly vibrant flag of the New South Africa is the only national flag with 6 colours in it without using a seal of some description. It was officially adopted on April 27, 1994 following the first elections after the end of apartheid. The flag has 2 horizontal bands of red (on the top) and blue (bottom) of equal width separated by a central...

  • ROBOTS !

    The first time it happened I was driving and my local friend Johannes was giving me directions. Suddenly I heard him say “Look out for the Robot”. I thought he was crazy. Suddenly I saw red traffic lights and had to apply the brakes quickly. We came to an almost violent stop and Johannes was looking at me like I was crazy now. Now he says “I told...

  • Uniquely South Africa Liquor - Amarula

    Amazing cream liquor made from the fruit of the Marula tree. I'd describe it as a Baileys Irish Cream with a caramel like flavor and a bit of a bite. Excellent This tree only grows in subequatorial AfricaThe trees cannot be cultivated, and so the fruit must be harvested in the wild. As the fruit ripens the skin becomes a light yellow, with white...

  • Bishop Desmond Tutu

    Since 1994 South Africa has gone through a tremendous reconciliation process with the official end of apartheid. Tutu, a Bishop from Cape Town has been instrumental in bringing about reconciliation by forming a Truth and Reconciliation Committee.This committee was set up as a specific place where people who had done criminal things for political...

  • Youth Day ~ 16 June

    On this date, in 1976, Soweto students protested against the official introduction of studying Afrikaans as a set curriculum subject. They would have no choice whether to study it or not...This language was seen as the language of the apartheid era as the leaders at the time were Afrikaans, and so there was a very anti-Afrikaans feeling within the...


    If you do stay with a family in most of South Africa, you will probably find that the toilet is outside. I would suggest you take a torch (flash light) with you on your travels. Proper etiquette is to whistle loudly as you approach or sing so that anyone inside can warn you of their presence. Not all of them have locks on the door!

  • Some facts about SA expats living in...

    · South Africans living abroad are generally optimistic about South Africa, and aim to return one day!· Nearly 80% have some form of investment in the country still· Over 30% own a home there · Nearly 70% have a current bank account· Nearly 30% have kept their retirement plans going (which says a lot!)· Over 60% believe the country will go from...

  • South African expats

    As a South African, living in another country currently, I thought I might write about this, so you hear first-hand our thoughts on our land, and not what the telly and propoganda relish on you.I think my writings on my homepage and throughout my South Africa tips, show how much I love and admire my country of birth.She has so much going for it, so...

  • Day of Reconciliation 16 December ~

    This is a day that was once celebrated in the Old South Africa for an entirely different reason!Pre-democracy, this day was a celebration primarily celebrated by white Afrikaners - as the Day of the Vow, which marked the victory of the Voortrekkers (Afrikaners of Dutch heritage), over Zulu warriors at the Battle of Blood River.With the new...

  • Heritage Day 24 September ~

    This is the day in the year that we celebrate the Rainbow Nation, the New South Africa!On 24 September we remember what we used to be as a nation, when so many were shackled by laws and suppression of some kind or another, and how we as a nation have risen above that, together, and how a Rainbow Nation has been formed.The term ‘rainbow’ refers to...

  • National Womens Day 9 August ~

    In apartheid times, black men and women had to carry passes with them at all times...They could be stopped, any time of the day or night, and had to produce their pass. There was a night curfew and if they breached this they were in serious trouble.In August 1956, 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the law of...

  • Freedom Day 27 April ~

    On this day, in the year 1994, millions of black South Africans, previously denied the right to vote, voted for the first time. It was a poignant moment in the nations history and one which I personally will never forget. It was the first year I could legally vote too, and the queues stretched for miles, and we queued for 7 hours in the searing...

  • Human Rights Day 21 March ~

    This public holiday reminds every South African, no matter their culture or colour, of their human rights as a South African. It is in memory of 69 people that were shot and killed by police in 1960 in Sharpeville, who were protesting against pass laws of the land at the time.

  • Days celebrated by South Africans ~

    In South Africa there are various public holidays, which celebrate pivotal times within the country. In the UK these days are called bank holidays...They are mostly political in motivation and reason, and they are quite new too, brought in by the now-democratic government within the country.In the apartheid regime they had other days they...

  • South African slang is lekker :)

    South Africa has eleven official languages, English is one of these languages as is Afrikaans, the remaining nine are indigenous and these are: Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Sepedi, Ndebele, Tswana, Swati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. Practically everyone speaks some English (albeit it being their second/third language), so there is no need to worry about the...

  • HIV and Aids :(

    High crime and HIV/AIDS infection rates deter investment in South Africa, but this aside, South Africa's economy has grown from strength to strength in the last few years. The unemployment rate is still high although there are huge efforts being made by government and the man on the ground to change this.Having said this it is quite ironic that a...

  • Urban area vs rural area traditonal...

    There are a wide variety of cultures in South Africa, and then even within the same culture there are significant differences in tradition, depending on where they live.Traditional black culture is still strong in the rural areas, but in urban areas old cultures are fading and new cultural combinations are emerging as people mingle and meet, and...

  • New South African culture

    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 now. A new South African culture is being created, sans colour or tradition standing in the way. We still have a...

  • Suppression of culture

    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...

  • Mohandas 'Mahatma' Gandhi

    Mahatma Gandhi came to South Africa in May 1893 to simply assist an Indian merchant in a civil law suit. He had a strong sense of duty, loved truth and had an insatiable urge to serve humanity, and had nothing (at that time) to do with politics. What he experienced in South Africa changed his life forever. He felt compelled to help those who...

  • Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela ~ Our hero :)

    (taken from my South Africa intro)As the world's most famous prisoner (held in captivity for 27 years) and, then becoming South Africa's president, Nelson Mandela exemplifies a moral integrity that shines far beyond South Africa. In the revolution led by Mandela to transform a country based on apartheid laws and dirision, into an open democracy, he...

  • The Feta is better

    Many dishes in South Africa include feta cheese. However, the feta used in SA is Danish Feta as opposed to Greek Feta. Danish feta cheese is less salty then Greek and is more moist. More like a goat cheese- yummy!

  • Eat a Pepperdew

    Pepperdews are piquanté peppers that are grown and marketed (trademarked) in South Africa. This fruit was only recently discovered (1994) and is grown exclusively in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces of South Africa. The peppers have a unique taste - - a mixture of peppery (but not too hot) and sweet. We thought they were more tart then spicy....

  • Festivals in South Africa

    SA has many festivals, Origin Festival Prickly Pear Festival Cape Town Jazz FestivalLambert's Bay KreeffeesOppikoppi Easter FestivalTonteldoos Peach Festival and more....I include a web page with info


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South Africa Local Customs

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