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The culture of South Africa is
known for its ethnic and
cultural diversity. The South
African majority still has a
substantial number of rural
inhabitants who lead largely
impoverished lives. It is
among these people,
however, that cultural
traditions survive most
strongly; as South Africans
have become increasingly
urbanized and Westernised,
aspects of traditional culture
have declined. Urban South
Africans usually speak English
or Afrikaans in addition to
their native language. There
are smaller but still significant
groups of speakers of Khoisan
languages, not included in the
eleven official languages, but
are one of the eight other
officially recognised
languages. There are small
groups of speakers of
endangered languages, most
of which are from the Khoisan
family, that receive no official
status; however, some groups
within South Africa are
attempting to promote their
use and revival.
Members of middle class, who
are predominantly white but
whose ranks include growing
numbers of people of colour,
have lifestyles similar in many
respects to that of people
found in Western Europe,
North America and Australia.
Indian South Africans
preserve their cultural
heritage, languages and
religious beliefs, being either
Christian, Hindu or Muslim and
speaking English, with Indian
languages like Hindi, Telugu,
Tamil or Gujarati being
spoken less frequently as
second languages. A post-
apartheid wave of South Asian
(including Pakistani)
immigration has also
influenced South African
Indian culture.
Main article: Art of South
Eland, rock painting,
Drakensberg, South Africa
The oldest art objects in the
world were discovered in a
South African cave. Dating
from 75,000 years ago, these
small drilled snail shells could
have no other function than
to have been strung on a
string as a necklace. South
Africa was one of the cradles
of the human species. One of
the defining characteristics of
our species is the making of
art (from Latin 'ars' meaning
worked or formed from basic
The scattered tribes of
Khoisan peoples moving into
South Africa from around
10,000 BC had their own
fluent art styles seen today in
a multitude of cave paintings.
They were superseded by
Bantu and Nguni peoples with
their own vocabularies of art
forms. In the 20th century,
traditional tribal forms of art
were scattered and re-melded
by the divisive policies of
New forms of art evolved in
the mines and townships: a
dynamic art using everything
from plastic strips to bicycle
spokes. The Dutch-influenced
folk art of the Afrikaner
Trekboer and the urban white
artists earnestly following
changing European traditions
from the 1850s onwards also
contributed to this eclectic
mix, which continues to
evolve today.
Contemporary South Africa
has a stellar art scene, with
artists receiving international
recognition. The recent
'Figures and Fictions'
exhibition of South African
photography at the Victoria
and Albert Museum in London
included the work of Mikhael
Subotzky, Zanele Muholi, David
Goldblatt, Zwelethu Mthethwa
and Guy Tillim. Contemporary
South African artists whose
work has been met with
international acclaim include
Marlene Dumas and William
Art Market
According to the data
compiles by Global Africa Art
Market Report ,South Africa is
the leading marketplace for
modern & contemporary
african art inside the
The architecture of South
Africa mirrors the vast ethnic
and cultural diversity of the
country and its historical
colonial period. In addition,
influences from other distant
countries have contributed to
the variety of the South
African architectural
Herbert Baker, among the
country's most influential
architects, designed the Union
Buildings in Pretoria. Other
buildings of note include the
Rhodes memorial and St
George's Cathedral in Cape
Town, and St John's College in
Cape Dutch architecture was
prominent in the early days
(17th century) of the Cape
Colony, and the name derives
from the fact that the initial
settlers of the Cape were
primarily Dutch. The style has
roots in medieval Holland,
Germany, France and
Indonesia. Houses in this style
have a distinctive and
recognizable design, with a
prominent feature being the
grand, ornately rounded
gables, reminiscent of
features in townhouses of
Amsterdam built in the Dutch
The rural landscape of South
Africa is populated with
traditional and European-
influenced African
Main article: Literature of
South Africa
Olive Schreiner, the author of
The Story of an African Farm
There are 11 national
languages in South Africa.
South Africa's unique social
and political history has
generated a rich variety of
literatures, with themes
spanning pre-colonial life, the
days of apartheid, and the
lives of people in the "new
South Africa".
Many of the first black South
African print authors were
missionary-educated, and
many thus wrote in either
English or Afrikaans. One of
the first well known novels
written by a black author in
an African language was
Solomon Thekiso Plaatje's
Mhudi, written in 1930.
Notable white English-
language South African
authors include Nadine
Gordimer who was, in Seamus
Heaney's words, one of "the
guerrillas of the imagination",
and who became the first
South African and the seventh
woman to be awarded the
Nobel Prize for Literature in
1991. Her novel, July's People,
was released in 1981,
depicting the collapse of
white-minority rule.
Athol Fugard, whose plays
have been regularly premiered
in fringe theatres in South
Africa, London (The Royal
Court Theatre), and New York
City. Olive Schreiner's The Story
of an African Farm (1883) was
a revelation in Victorian
literature: it is heralded by
many as introducing feminism
into the novel form.
Alan Paton published the
acclaimed novel Cry, the
Beloved Country in 1948. He
told the tale of a black priest
who comes to Johannesburg
to find his son, which became
an international best-seller.
During the 1950s, Drum
magazine became a hotbed of
political satire, fiction, and
essays, giving a voice to urban
black culture.
Afrikaans-language writers
also began to write
controversial material. Breyten
Breytenbach was jailed for his
involvement with the guerrilla
movement against apartheid.
Andre Brink was the first
Afrikaner writer to be banned
by the government after he
released the novel A Dry White
Season about a white South
African who discovers the
truth about a black friend
who dies in police custody.
John Maxwell (JM) Coetzee was
also first published in the
1970s, and became
internationally recognize in
1983 with his Booker Prize-
winning novel Life & Times of
Michael K. His 1999 novel
Disgrace won him his second
Booker Prize as well as the
2000 Commonwealth Writers'
Prize. He is also the recipient
of the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 2003.
English writer J. R. R. Tolkien,
author of The Hobbit, The
Lord of the Rings and The
Silmarillion, was born in
Bloemfontein in 1892.
Main article: South African
South Africa has a rich
tradition of oral poetry.
Several influential African
poets became prominent in
the 1970s such as Mongane
Wally Serote, whose most
famous work, No Baby Must
Weep, gave insight into the
everyday lives of black South
Africans under apartheid.
Another famous black novelist,
Zakes Mda, transitioned from
poetry and plays to becoming
a novelist in the same time
period. His novel, The Heart of
Redness won the 2001
Commonwealth Writers Prize
and was made a part of the
school curriculum across
South Africa.
Main article: Cinema of
South Africa
While many foreign films have
been produced about South
Africa (usually involving race
relations), few local
productions are known
outside South Africa itself. One
exception was the film The
Gods Must Be Crazy in 1980,
set in the Kalahari. This is
about how life in a traditional
community of San (Bushmen)
is changed when a Coke
bottle, thrown out of a plane,
suddenly lands from the sky.
The late Jamie Uys, who wrote
and directed The Gods Must
Be Crazy, also had success
overseas in the 1970s with
his films Funny People and
Funny People II, similar to the
TV series Candid Camera in the
US. Leon Schuster's You Must
Be Joking! films are in the
same genre, and hugely
popular among South
Arguably, the most high-
profile film portraying South
Africa in recent years was
" District 9". Directed by Neill
Blomkamp, a native South
African, and produced by
Peter Jackson, the action/
science-fiction film depicts a
sub-class of alien refugees
forced to live in the slums of
Johannesburg in what many
saw as a creative allegory for
apartheid. The film was a
critical and commercial
success worldwide, and was
nominated for Best Picture at
the 82nd Academy Awards.
Other notable exceptions are
the film Tsotsi, which won the
Academy Award for Foreign
Language Film at the 78th
Academy Awards in 2006 as
well as U-Carmen e-
Khayelitsha, which won the
Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin
International Film Festival.
Main article: Music of South
Enoch Sontonga
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. Of note is
Brenda Fassie, who launched
to fame with her song
"Weekend Special", which was
sung in English. More famous
traditional musicians include
Ladysmith Black Mambazo,
while the Soweto String
Quartet performs classic
music with an African flavour.
White and Coloured South
African singers are historically
influenced by European
musical styles.
South Africa has produced
world-famous jazz musicians,
notably Hugh Masekela, Jonas
Gwangwa, Abdullah Ibrahim,
Miriam Makeba, Jonathan
Butler, Chris McGregor, and
Sathima Bea Benjamin.
Afrikaans music covers
multiple genres, such as the
contemporary Steve Hofmeyr
and the punk rock band
Fokofpolisiekar. Crossover
artists such as Verity
(internationally recognised for
innovation in the music
industry) and Johnny Clegg
and his bands Juluka and
Savuka have enjoyed various
success underground,
publicly, and abroad.
The South African music scene
includes Kwaito, a new music
genre that had developed in
the mid-1980s and has since
developed to become the
most popular socio-economic
form of representation among
the populace. Some[who?]
may argue that the political
aspects of Kwaito have
diminished after Apartheid,
and the relative interest in
politics has become a minor
aspect of daily life.
Others[who?] argue that in a
sense, Kwaito is in fact a
political force that shows
activism in its apolitical
Today, major corporations like
Sony, BMG, and EMI have
appeared on the South African
scene to produce and
distribute Kwaito music. Due
to its overwhelming
popularity, as well as the
general influence of DJs, who
are among the top 5 most
influential types of people
within the country, Kwaito has
taken over radio, television,
and magazines.[1]
South African rock music is a
very popular subculture,
especially within the
Johannesburg region. The
alternative rock band Seether
gained international
popularity in the early 2000s,
with four of their albums
achieving Gold or Platinum
certification in the United
States.[2] Two other
alternative bands, KONGOS and
Civil Twilight, also achieved
success abroad in the late
Main article: South African
An array of traditional South
African cuisine
Meat on a traditional South
African braai
The cuisine of South Africa is
heavily meat-based and has
spawned the distinctively
South African social gathering
known as a braai. A variation
of the barbecue, braais often
feature boerewors or spicy
sausages, and mielies (maize)
or Mielie-meal, often as a
porridge, or pearl millet, a
staple food of black South
Africans. Pastries such like
koeksisters and desserts like
melktert (milk tart) are also
universally popular.
Indian food like curry is also
popular, especially in Durban
with its large Indian
population. Another local
Indian Durban speciality is the
'bunny' or bunny chow, which
consists of a hollowed-out
loaf of white bread filled with
The Portuguese community
has also made its mark, with
spicy peri-peri chicken being a
favourite. The South African
restaurant chain Nando's now
has restaurants in the United
Kingdom, United States,
Canada, Australia, Ireland, New
Zealand, Malaysia, Kenya and
the United Arab Emirates.
Main article: South African
South Africa has developed
into a major wine producer,
with some of the best
vineyards lying in valleys
around Stellenbosch,
Franschhoek, Paarl and
Barrydale. South African wine
has a history dating back to
1659, and at one time
Constantia was considered
one of the greatest wines in
the world. Access to
international markets has
unleashed a burst of new
energy and new investment.
Production is concentrated
around Cape Town, with
major vineyard and
production centres at Paarl,
Stellenbosch and Worcester.
There are about 60
appellations within the Wine
of Origin (WO) system, which
was implemented in 1973
with a hierarchy of
designated production
regions, districts and wards.
WO wines must be made
100% from grapes from the
designated area. "Single
vineyard" wines must come
from a defined area of less
than 5 hectares. An "Estate
Wine" can come from adjacent
farms, as long as they are
farmed together and wine is
produced on site. A ward is an
area with a distinctive soil
type and/or climate, and is
roughly equivalent to a
European appellation.[3]
Main article: Education in
South Africa
The heart of the Rhodes
University campus
Learners have twelve years of
formal schooling, from grade
1 to 12. Grade R is a pre-
primary foundation year.
There are also rewarded
pupils with posistions
notebally The Top Ten one
notetable student is Hayley
Pearce b.2001 of High School
Otto Du Plessis.Primary
schools span the first seven
years of schooling.[4] High
School education spans a
further five years. The Senior
Certificate examination takes
place at the end of grade 12
and is necessary for tertiary
studies at a South African
university.[5]See: Matriculation
in South Africa; High school in
South Africa
Public universities in South
Africa are divided into three
types: traditional universities,
which offer theoretically
oriented university degrees;
universities of technology
(formerly called "Technikons"),
which offer vocational
oriented diplomas and
degrees; and comprehensive
universities, which offer both
types of qualification. Public
institutions are usually English
medium, although instruction
may take place in Afrikaans as
well. There are also a large
number of other educational
institutions in South Africa –
some are local campuses of
foreign universities, some
conduct classes for students
who write their exams at the
distance-education University
of South Africa and some offer
unaccredited or non-
accredited diplomas. See: List
of universities in South Africa;
List of post secondary
institutions in South Africa;
Category:Higher education in
South Africa

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