South Africa the Rainbow Nation


The South African population is a huge melting pot of people and cultures of great diversity.  They have come from all corners of the globe, blending into a society of age-old customs and modern ways with a new identity.  Only the Khoi and San people are truly indigenous in South Africa.  There are only a few of these people remaining in the Northern Cape, but their rich heritage lives on through their ancient rock art.  They remain a proud part of the South Africa’s Rainbow Nation.  When the pastoral Khoi appeared 2 000 years ago they brought with them farming.  Unlike the San, who did not live in a hierarchical society, the Khoi had a complex social structure.  The name Khoisan is an integration of the two names of the first inhabitants of southern Africa.  The Black inhabitants originally migrated to South Africa from central Africa, especially from the Great Lakes and Congo regions, during the Great Southern Migration period in its history. They settled mainly in the northern and eastern parts of present-day South Africa and where they came into contact with the Khoisan, they pushed them west into the drier regions of the Northern Cape.  The Europeans in their search for freedom, adventure and wealth, sailed to this “new land” from as early as the 15th century.  During the past decade South Africa has emerged as a modern-day miracle, embracing its people of all races and colours.


The Republic of South Africa is located at the southern tip of the African continent, bordering the countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. Lesotho is an independent nation, entirely surrounded by South African territory. South Africa has the largest population of people of European descent in Africa, the largest Indian population outside of Asia, as well as the largest Colored (of mixed European and African descent) community in Africa, making it one of the most ethnically diverse countries on the continent.


Rainbow Nation is a term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa, after South Africa’s first fully democratic election in 1994.  The phrase was elaborated upon by President Nelson Mandela in his first month of office, when he proclaimed: “Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world”.  The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d’état, and regular free and fair elections have been held since 1994, making it a regional power and among the most stable and liberal democracies in Africa.  The economy of South Africa is the largest and most well-developed of the entire African continent, with modern infrastructure common throughout the country.


South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Ndebe, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Tswana, and Venda.  The country also recognizes eight non-official languages: Fanagalo, Lobedu, Northern Ndbele, Phuti, South African Sign Language, Khoe, Nama and San. English is the most commonly spoken language in official and commercial public life – but only the sixth most spoken home language.  Most South Africans are multilingual, able to speak more than one language.  English- and Afrikaans-speaking people tend not to have much ability in indigenous languages, but are fairly fluent in each other’s language.  Most South Africans speak English, which is fairly ubiquitous in official and commercial public life.  The country’s other lingua franca is isiZulu. IsiZulu, isiXhosa, siSwati and isiNdebele are collectively referred to as the Nguni languages, and have many similarities in syntax and grammar. The Sotho languages – Setswana, Sesotho sa Leboa and Sesotho – also have much in common.  Many of South Africa’s linguistic groups share a common ancestry.  But as groupings and clans broke up in search of autonomy and greener pastures for their livestock, variations of the common languages evolved.  The languages you will hear most frequently spoken in South Africa depend on where in the country you are.  IsiXhosa, for instance, is spoken by more than 80% of South Africans in the Eastern Cape, while 80.9% of people in KwaZulu-Natal speak isiZulu.  IsiZulu is also the most frequently spoken home language in Gauteng, but at a much smaller percentage.  The Western and Northern Cape provinces, Afrikaans comes into its own.


When apartheid ended in 1994, the South African government had to integrate the formerly independent and semi-independent Bantusans into the political structure of South Africa.  To this end, it abolished the four former provinces of South Africa (Cape Province, Natal, Orange Free State, and Transvaal) and replaced them with nine fully integrated neutrally named provinces.  The new provinces are much smaller than the former provinces, in order to give local governments more resources to distribute over smaller areas.  The provinces are: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Kwa Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape.
South Africa is a kaleidoscope of colors, cultures and traditions, a land of great deserts, thundering oceans and golden bushveld with a myriad of plant and animal species. Allow Road Travel to assist you in creating a Rainbow Nation Tour of a Lifetime. Visits could include Pretoria, Panorama Route, God’s Window, Kruger National Park, Swaziland, St Lucia, Hluhluwe/Umfolozi National Park, Durban, Drakensberg, Sani Pass, Lesotho, Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast, the Hole in the Wall, Zuurberg Pass, Addo Elephant National Park, Knysna, Featherbed Nature Reserve, Oudtshoorn, Cango Caves, Swartberg Pass, Matjiesfontein, Stellenbosch, and finally Cape Town with Table Mountain, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch and the beautiful Cape Peninsula.

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