For many of us, when we think Africa, it is the great African landscapes, the wildlife and the safaris that first run through our minds. But what also makes the greatness of Africa is its people and their culture.

Too often forgotten, these people and African cultures are fascinating. After all, dance, music, the art of storytelling, everything comes from Africa. And no offense to the extremes that thrive around the world, we are all African.

In this 38th edition of our Newsletter, we offer you a journey back to the roots, to (re)discover what we have forgotten.

Christian the African
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Indian Community of Durban

Most people of Indian origin in Africa are descended from the first batch of Indians whom the British brought to South Africa as indentured labourers in the 1860’s.

Many other Indian South Africans are descended from Indian traders who migrated from areas around Gujarat (Western province of India). Apart from restrictions on their movements, Indians were at the receiving end of racial discrimination in other matters such as education and employment. Indians played a significant role in the anti-apartheid struggle and some of them contested and won the elections which were held in 1994.

The new generation uses English as their first language. Indian languages like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Urdu are spoken at home. The majority of South African Indians are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians and Buddhists. The Indian culture can be traced through their temples and mosques which are well known for their architecture and rich heritage. In Durban, in the traditional Indian markets called “bazaars”, the aroma of herbs, spices and curries assails visitors particularly in the Indian district and around Grey Street. About 14 miles from Durban, is the South Africa Heritage’s Phoenix Settlement where Gandhi developed his philosophy of passive resistance.

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The Zulu People

If there is a people that has marked the history of southern Africa, it is definitely the Zulus.

This nation, originally from Tanzania, settled on the east coast, near to what is now Durban. A minor clan, this warlike people managed to impose its name and culture on the entire region. Zulu supremacy began in 1816 with the accession of King Shaka. The Zulus were the only nation in the history of colonization to have defeated a colonial power, namely the English, at the Battle of Isandhlwana.

These proud people with strong African traditions can be found in KwaZulu-Natal. Discover their dances and songs as well as their famous “Sangoma” sorcerers and healers. A number of lodges such as “Isandhlawna Lodge” or “Fugitives’ Drift Lodge” can offer you the unique experience of living the turbulent history of this region all over again. Visit Zulu villages like Shakaland or Dumazulu. These villages have been rebuilt but they embody true Zulu tradition with its art, songs and dances.

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The Xhosa People

The Xhosas are part of the Nguni migration which slowly moved south from the Great Lakes.

Around the mid-17th century the Xhosa people were well established. In the years that followed 1812 many Xhosa clans were pushed west because of expansion by the Zulus. Today the Xhosas make up 18% of the South African population. Traditional Xhosa culture includes diviners, a job mostly taken by women, as well as herbalists, prophets and healers for the community. Traditional crafts include beadwork, weaving, woodwork and pottery.

  • The most famous one...

The Xhosa language famously has fifteen click sounds, originally borrowed from now extinct Khoisan languages of the region. The Xhosa's traditional diet consists of beef, mutton, goat meat, sorghum, fermented milk (known as "amasi"), pumpkins, beans and vegetables.

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The Afrikaner People

The Afrikaners are descendants of Europeans colonists who came to the Cape between 1652 and 1689 from the Netherlands, Germany and France.

This group includes both Cape Dutch and Boers, who were initially semi-nomadic farmers. In 1652, Jan Van Riebeeck led the first Dutch colonists to the Cape. The Dutch East India Company wanted to establish a secure base camp where passing ships sailing the spice route could shelter, and where sailors could stock up on fresh supplies of meat, fruit and vegetables.

  • Jan Van Riebeek
  • Maybe the best farmers on the planet
  • Proud Rugby fans
  • A passion for Braai (barbercue)
  • The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria

Afrikaans is a language that originated from Dutch dialects and has numerous words supplied by other French, German, Portuguese, Malay, Khoikhoi and English immigrants. The Afrikaans Language Monument and Museum in Paarl offers a unique experience of Afrikaans culture in South Africa, as well as the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. It is the only monument of its kind which commemorates the Pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaners. It is the most visited Afrikaner heritage site in Gauteng and one of the top ten cultural historical visitor attractions in the country.

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The Ndebele People

The Ndebele are a people known for their love for richly coloured huts and clothing.

The women adorn their arms and legs with beaded rings and their necks with stacked rings. All of these adornments symbolize their status in the Ndebele society. The mesmerizing hand-painted geometric and colourful designs on their huts are done freehand by the woman of the household, who do not map out a design first.

  • Ndebele People
  • Ndebele art
  • Inspiring fashion
  • Ndebele patterns

There is a fervent belief in the spirit and ancestral world in their culture. A traditional healer (also known as a “sangoma”) acts as the link between these two worlds and is greatly respected. The Ndebele have been divided into the North and South Ndebele (due to a quarrel between the King’s two sons) with the majority of the South Ndebele living in KwaNdebele (“place of the Ndebele”), approximately 120 km north-east of Pretoria.

Botshabelo Historical Village situated here, offers a traditional South-Ndebele open-air museum and is well worth a visit. These colourful, artistic people speak Nguni or IsiNdebele as it is officially known. IsiNdebele is spoken by more than 700,000 people in South Africa as their home language. It is very common to hear “Sawubona” (Hello) said around the country.

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The Bushmen People

Before the Bantus from the North, and the Europeans from the South, invaded Southern Africa, this region was inhabited by Khoi and San : the famous Bosjesmans (or Bushmen).

The Bushmen still adapt to nature and live in harmony with it today. They are the real ecologists of our time. Estimated to number around 100 000 to date, the bushmen are only found in the arid regions of the Kalahari, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

  • Bushmen People
  • Bushmen People of the Kalahari Desert
  • Typical Kalahari Desert Landscape

Evidence of their former existence can be discovered in their rock paintings in the Cape region, in the Cederberg mountains. “Bushmanskloof Lodge” offers you a chance to see these paintings. Visiting the villages is more difficult. For an authentic experience of the life of the Bushmen there is “Graceland” (Footstep) or else “Jack's Camp” (Uncharted Africa Safari Company). An experience like no other. A return to one’s roots in the true sense of the term. After all, every one of us originated in Africa.

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The Tswana People

"Dumela", is a word you may have heard in southern Africa. It means 'hello' in Setswana, spoken by 4.5 million South Africans, and is the official language of the Tswana people.

The Tswana are hunters, herders and cultivators and have been in Southern Africa since the 14th century. Closely related to the Sotho, the majority reside in South Africa as opposed to Botswana, their namesake country.

  • Tswana Dancers
  • Traditional Village
  • Tswana Girls

Wealth and status among the Tswana are measured by the amount of cattle owned. Cattle are a very treasured commodity, used most interestingly for the payment of a bride. The groom will give the bride's family cattle as a sign of respect and to prove his wealth. This "bride price" is also known as "lobola". Lobola is widely practised in many African cultures.

The Tswana are known for their "diviners", who have incredible healing powers and are able to foresee illness and misfortune by the throwing of bones. The spiritual world to the Tswana is a very important one. There are many rituals and ceremonies dedicated to the ancestral spirits or "badimo" of the Tswana people, to encourage health, wealth and cleansing. At Gaabo Motho Cultural Village one can have an authentic Tswana experience. This multicultural village is situated 5km outside Pretoria.

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The Himba People

The Himba are actually descendants of a group of Herero herders who fled into the remote north-west after been displaced by the Nama.

The Himba have clung to their traditions and the beautiful Himba women are noted for their intricate hairstyles and traditional jewellery.

As Himba men and woman wear few clothes apart from a loin cloth or goat skinned mini-skirt, they rub their bodies with red ochre and fat to protect themselves from the sun which also gives a rich red colour to their appearance. The Himba jewellery is made from iron or shell, and due to the intricate designs have become very popular amongst western tourists. Himba homesteads are cone-shaped structures made from palm leaves, mud and cattle dung.

During the course of a year the family will move from one home to another in search of grazing for the animals. For this reason it is important not to take anything from a Himba hut even if it appears abandoned. The traditional village at Puros or the Epupa Lodge are both good places to visit if you want to learn more about the Himba way of life.

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The Cape Malay People

The Cape Malay community is essentially based in Cape Town. Their ancestors were the slaves brought from Indonesia and Malaysia by the VOC (the Dutch East India Company) from 1667 onwards.

The particularity of the Cape Malay community is that they managed to maintain their religion and culture throughout their slavery, which is an exception in slave history. They speak mainly Afrikaans and English.

  • The Famous Bo Kaap District
  • The Cape Minstrels
  • The Cape Minstrels
  • Samoosas
  • The Famous Bo Kaap District
  • Mince & Pea Cape Malay Curry

In Cape Town, discover Cape culture while walking in the narrow streets of BoKaap with its colourful houses and taste the spicy traditional cuisine which is now common in many South African homes. In the Cape Malay cuisine you will find condiments such as ATJAR, a confyt of fruits with salt and oil, BLATJANG, a cross between fruit chutney and jam. Rice is usually served with main dishes such as BREDIE (a lamb stew), SOSATIES (skewered chunks of lamb meat marinated in spices), BOBOTIE made with mince and an egg-based topping, BIRYANI (mutton and saffron stew), CURRY and SAMOOSAS.

The Cape Malays also developed a musical culture comprising Cape Minstrels : brass bands in colourful outfits seen each year on the 2nd of January during the Cape Town Minstrels Carnival walking all day up and down Cape Town's streets..!

Your idea of ultimate luxury?

To have time, to love and be loved and being able to travel when I want...

What calms your stress?

A Thai Massage

If you win the roulette 9 times in a row, do you carry on because luck is on your side or do you stop playing because statistically you should now be losing?

How do you play roulette again?

Is there a superstition that makes you change your behaviour?

No, but I don't walk under a ladder and I play to the Lotery on Friday 13th...

If you were sent to a deserted island what book, disc or movie would you take with?

A book, probably a survival guide!

A small pleasure that you consider huge?

Listening to my IPod in my car

Your way to kill time?

Why do you want to kill time?

What are you totally incompetent in?

Should I tell you?

To what are you addicted?

Good Food & Good Wine

Your new year’s resolutions?

To start smoking, to drink more, to sleep less and to stop gyming... It’s a joke, I don’t smoke!

What have you not done yet, but that you will certainly do one day?

So many things, long list! Trying to make it shorter everyday...

To which other part of the world would you move to without any hesitation?

I already moved to Cape Town without any hesitation!

A word or a phrase that you hate?

Impossible

If you were to reincarnate into someone from real life who would it be?

A Zen master

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