South Africa means diversity, history and perseverance. It is an impressive, captivating, multiracial and multicultural country that will surprise you. Every part of this rainbow nation will offer something new in terms of the culture, languages and environment.
Before packing your bags for your safari tour in South Africa, l would like to leave you with a few mysteries about this beautiful country.
The rainbow nation
The country is a melting pot of people of all colours and backgrounds. Descendants of the Dutch, French Heguenots , Indians, Malay, Nguni and others all call it home. This means you will be spoiled in terms of culture and languages during your trip.
South Africa is one of the very few countries in the world with more than one capital city. They have a whopping three!
- Capetown (legislative)
- Bloemfontein (Judiciary)
- Pretoria (Administrative)
Here is a catch. Johannesburg is the largest and richest city in South Africa but it is nowhere near the above list.
In addition, there are nine provinces with their own provincial governments: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
South Africa has more official languages than any other country on earth. Twelve languages are official in South Africa, although English is widely used in business and education. The most spoken languages are IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans and English. Xitsonga, Tshivhenda, Isindebele, Sepedi, Setswana, Siswati, Sesotho and Xitsonga make the remaining list of the official languages in South Africa.
This word is tied to South African history. Apartheid mean “separateness” in English. It was a political system that separated people of different races in all the facets of life in South Africa. It was started in 1948 by the government DF Malan and ended in 1991 with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison after twenty seven years. The system favoured people of European descent over the native black populations of South Africa. Protests, sabotage, international pressure and the failing economy resulted in a negotiated settlement that ushered democracy in 1994.
FLORA AND FAUNA
South Africa is one of the with a large variety of flora and fauna. From the rolling green hills of the Eastern Cape, to the dry desert like landscape of the Northern Cape, there are millions of animal species. The country has numerous national parks , protected conservancies , private game parks and amazing forests. Up north, the Krudger national park is one of the most famous national parks and a world renowned collection of ecosystems. In the south, the garden route separates the dry north from the wet temperate south. If we focus on the wild animals we can find in South Africa, the facts are impressive. We can find about 300
species of mammals, 850 species of birds and 450 species of reptiles and alligators. Unfortunately some of these animals are in the danger of extinction.
South Africa may be mostly known for its wild animals, however it has an impressive flora side too. From the rich and succulent grazing areas of the south, the grey savannah forests with its characteristic thorny trees, the giant baobab trees and the mediterranean like style forests in the south east.
First Heart Transplant
The first heart transplant in the world was performed by a team of surgeons led by Dr Christian Barnard at Groote Schuur hospital in the Western Cape. The patient Louis Washkansky went on to live for 18 days before dying from pneumonia because of the immunosuppressive drugs he was taking. Despite this setback, the operation itself was a huge success and a pioneer to modern heart transplants.
Two Nobel Peace Prize Winner lived in the same street
South Africa is the only country to have two Nobel Peace prize winners who used to live in the same street. This is true for Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They won the nobel prize in 1993 and 1984 respectively. They used to live in Soweto a black suburb of Johannesburg. Another catch is by origin they were both from the Eastern Cape
Variety of Cuisines
Just like you will expect for a rainbow nation, the food is a rainbow too. You can find the Afrikaans inspired Biltong, the mopane tree worms (Mashonza) and some indian inspired curries.
For those of you who have sweet teeth, the koeksister, milk tart and rusks beckon.
Minerals and Precious Stones
South Africa is well known for its precious stones. It has some of the most important mines in the world. Names like De Beer are associated with the diamond market and South Africa as a country. The emergency of Johannesburg as a fabulous city it is today was built on the existence of these precious stones.
The discovery of the largest diamond in the world in 1905 in South Africa, the Cullinan, a 3016.75 carats stone influenced the diamond industry greatly. Some of the most important mining companies like Venetia, Finsch and Kimeberly are located in South Africa.
The gold mining industry is also very admirable. South Africa is home to the deepest gold mine cast in the world, TauTona and one of the biggest , Mponeng.
South Africa has a rich culture that was influenced by migrations within and from outside the region. This is manifested in the colourful dressing portrayed by the tribes like the Tsongas, Vendas, Ndebeles and Xhosas. On heritage day, 24 September of each year , South Africa turns into a real rainbow of clothes. Everyone celebrates their roots through their dressing. The Zulu warriors (amabutho in Isizulu), Tsonga dancers (Xibhelani-clothing) are some of the highlights of a rich cultural heritage.
With all these points l was trying to give a glimpse of what South Africa is, it is much more than this. Why not visit to discover more?