South African Culture

© Dr Peter Magubane

A person’s culture is an integral part of their fabric as a being, shaping many facets of their life and informing their understanding of the world. South Africa is home to a wide array of vibrant, rich cultures, each with their own deep history.

South Africa Online ® tells the stories of these cultures. Through the works of established academics and writers we delve into history, customs and the blending of different ways of life in a cultural landscape that is uniquely South African.

Cultural Overview of South Africa

With a dynamic fusion of African, European and Asian influences, South Africa is a unique experience of culture, food, language, music, art ...more

Homesteads of South Africa

Many rural communities in South Africa continue to build their homesteads from mud bricks and readily available materials like wood, stone a...more

Dress and Adornment of Rural South Africa

This includes not only the age of the wearer and a woman's status as the mother of an initiate who has just undergone circumcision, but also...more

Ceremonies of South Africa

From birth to death, these rites of passage regulate and give expression to meaningful changes in people's lives...more

Arts and Crafts in Rural South Africa

Using indigenous materials such as clay, wood and grass, they make beautiful, often richly decorated artefacts for ritual and household purp...more

San Rock Art of South Africa

Rock Art can be described as the overlooked heritage on our doorsteps and South Africa has been called “the richest storehouse of prehisto...more

The San

The San are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa, where they have lived for at least 20 000 years....more

The Xhosa

The name Xhosa is a general term, used for an assortment of noble clans of Nguni descent, the Pondo, Bomvana, Thembu and the Xhosa tribe its...more

The Zulu

Shaka, who became the chief of the tiny Zulu group in 1818, laid the foundations of the Zulu nation and built the mightiest empire in southe...more

The Tswana

The Tswana are part of the Sotho, with three broad divisions — Basotho (Southern Sotho), Pedi (Northern Sotho), and Tswana (Western Sotho)...more

The Venda

Many Venda see themselves as traditionalists, but their culture has been very dynamic and adaptable....more

The Ndebele

The Ndebele are well known for their outstanding craftsmanship, their decorative homes, and their distinctive and highly colourful mode of d...more

The Tsonga

The Tsonga are not a homogeneous ethnic group. Their forefathers came from present-day Mozambique to settle in South Africa in the 19th cent...more

The Pedi

Pedi was previously used to describe Sotho-speakers of Mpumalanga and Northern Province in South Africa. More recently, these groups have be...more

The Basotho

The Basotho have been identified as part of a larger Sotho cohort, comprising three broad divisions: Basotho (Southern Sotho), Pedi (Norther...more

The Ntwana

Although classified as Northern Sotho, the Ntwana are believed to be of Tswana (Western Sotho) origin. They can be traced to the Bakwena-Bam...more