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South African Culture: an Overview

Bare breasted dancing girls, traditional assegais and other weaponry, beaded costumes, these are some of the images that come up when you think of African culture but this isn’t always the case. Go visit in the townships, homesteads or even Afrikaner homes and you will see that South Africa is as diverse in its culture as it is in its scenery.

Is culture only a word that describes how people in a society live or is it something deeper, something that involves how people think, talk, act and work, does it involve their moral and ethical views and in this way their behavior towards other people.

This isn’t a political article that tries to explain why South Africans act the way they do but more of an inquiry into trying to understand why such diversity in thinking, acting and behaving can live together in mostly harmonious conditions.

I am a white South African Writer with an Afrikaner background who was bought up during and after the apartheid days. When I was younger I went to a school where the soccer field had a line down the middle with the black children allowed to play on the one side of the field and the white children on the other and god help us if we tried to commingle. Then one year we came to school and the line was gone, there were no more physical boundaries to separate skin colour and the only boundaries were those of the mental kind but we slowly started to commingle and play together but still did not go to the point of visiting each other at the other ones houses. After School I went and lived overseas for 2 years. The same attitude exhisted when I left but after just 2 years I came home and imagine my delight when I saw black, white and coloured living in the same neighbourhoods being good friends, visiting each others homes and so forth. I asked myself what happened, how this wonderful thing came about and the best answer I could come up with was that people had learned to accept and respect each others culture and by dropping this boundary had started to live together harmoniously. Now some of my best friends are black and I’ve seen that everybody has similar problems and everybody helps each other out in similar ways.

Now although a nice story this doesn’t quite explain what South African culture is, or does it? It highlights the fact that South African white, black and coloured cultures have started to mix and become a culture that is uniquely it’s own, a South African culture. Yes we all have our own idiosyncrasies and ways of living but we live together, experiencing those living styles and idiosyncrasies together and being a truly rainbow nation.

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Source by Justin Pretorius

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