South African Culture
South Africa has been famously referred to as the rainbow nation because it is made up of so many diverse cultures and religions. Contained within South Africa’s borders are Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Tswana, Ndebele, Khoisan, Hindu, Muslim, and Afrikaner people to name but a few. All of these people are united by calling South Africa home, and therefore their lives all contribute to forming a part of the country’s heritage, identity and culture. The values and behaviors of the population differ strongly among the cultural groups to which people belong. To understand them, one must first look at these populations individually. It should be noted that some take offense at referring to people by their race or ethnicity (particularly the term ‘black’) and prefer to label everyone as simply ‘South African’ or by their tribal affiliation. This is acknowledged. Yet, South Africa is making steady progress in erasing some of these historic disparities and their consequences. Daily life is better for most of its people, and culture and the arts, which sometimes were forced into exile, are flourishing in the free climate of the post apartheid era.
The great mixture of cultures makes for a wide variety of food choices in the country, from the traditional food of various cultures to the cosmopolitan cuisine that is available in many large cities throughout the world. African food is centered around vegetables, with maize (corn) as an important staple, often in the form of a porridge known as mealie pap.