The people of South Africa


The south of Africa is a colourful, cosmopolitan land where vibrant people live in nine provinces and speak a combination of 11 different languages. The main tribes or ethnic groups – classified as “Black Africans” in the annual census - include the Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho, Bapedi, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi and Ndebele.

The “Whites” – English and Afrikaans speaking groups - are descendents of the Dutch, Flemish, Portuguese, German, French Huguenot, English, Irish, Scottish, Italian and Welsh cultures.
“Coloureds” are those people of mixed race who originally descended from the slaves brought in from Central and East Africa, the Khoisan who lived in the Cape at the time, black tribes, whites and even some eastern peoples (Javanese, Malay, Indian and Burmese).

Indians and Asians were shipped in as workers for the sugar plantations of Natal in the nineteenth century and today they form a strong community and contribute extensively to the national economy. Many Chinese are also making South Africa their home. Cultures and religions therefore create a melting pot of beliefs in an interesting geographical landscape! 

How does it all work in reality post apartheid?

Things are slowly changing in South Africa - too slowly for some. As in all other countries there is a hierarchy based on wealth. Poor people still live in shacks, the wealthy in luxury properties and the masses in between. The wealthy still tend to be white and the poor black although this is gradually changing. As in every other nation in the world, education and good jobs is one of the best routes out of poverty and social mobility. There is hope for South Africa if people follow the advice of Mandela and it continues to be a beautiful place to live and visit.

True integration will be evident with mixed marriages and an increasing trend towards a majority with permanent sun tans.