South Africa was settled by the Dutch in 1652 as an ending point for ships on their way to the East Indies. The Dutch first settled the area that was to be Cape Town and with time expanded across the entire tip of southern Africa. Fruit and vegetables were grown here to battle the problem of scurvy aboard passing ships.
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South Africa changed hands and became a British colony, after the Napoleonic wars in 1815. Most of the Dutch went north to escape from the English. Here they developed tribe- a well known community, and over the period of time they migrated South from Central Africa. Overt there a war resulted between the Dutch Boers and the Zulus, a powerful tribe led by Shaka. The Boers won and created an Afrikaner state in the north. In 1899 there were the Boer Wars as a result of the English trying to capture this Afrikaner state. In 1910 South Africa became a union which is a coalition between the English and Afrikaner states. In 1960 South Africa became independence from British rule and became a republic. During the 90’s, with the release of Nelson Mandela- president, South Africa went through an amazing transformation.
South Africa (Africa’s southernmost nation) is also Africa’s largest and most developed economy. Today South Africa produces high-tech equipment and is a world leader in the output of gold and diamonds. Johannesburg and its satellite cities are home to more than 8 million people and generate 9 percent of all economic activity in Africa.
In the 21st century, South Africa is a democratic country representing all its diverse people-often called the rainbow nation. Today South Africa is making up for decades of social disruption and lost education, but high unemployment and the AIDS epidemic threaten economic progress.
NELSON MENDELA’S CONTRIBUTION
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 and served aspresident of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first ever to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. South Africa was a troubled nation for a long time and things are not perfect yet, but he fought hard for victory. Years after he started his journey, he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
Nelson Mandela’s political path started from 1944 when he and 5 comrades organized the African National Congress Youth League. He was appointed league president and in 1952 he was elected as national volunteer-in-chief of the ANC’s Defiance Campaign, a civil disobedience campaign against discriminatory legislation. And this was the start of his resistance against apartheid aws. The following years were marked with Mandela’s arrestment, banned and imprisoned accompanied with contributions to the freedom struggle.
In the year 1959 Mandela and 155 members of the ANC were arrested. Mandela went underground leading his army to bring freedom and peace back to all South Africans. After 17 months he was arrested and sent to Robin Island which is the most notorious prison in South Africa, on a life sentence.
Nelson Mandela established ‘teaching community’ at Robben Island even when he was in prison and he never gave up his struggle. Finally the rest of the world began to see the sheer wrongness. The government was left with no choice but it had to freed Mandela and other people.
Nelson then formed the first multi-racial government in South Africa and due to this he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and became President. After this he changed the country and freed a nation.
Between 1960 and 1994 as a president, Mandela organized the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights and to keep an eye on political violations committed by both supporters and opponents of apartheid. He introduced large number of social and economic programs to improve the standard of living of black people of South Africa. In 1996 Mandela presided over the enactment of a new South African constitution, which established a strong central government based on majority rule. Through this it was made possible to prohibit discrimination against minorities, including whites.
In the year 1998, it was his 80th birthday and Mandela wed the politician and humanitarian Graca Machel who was the widow of the former president of Mozambique. The next year, Nelson finally retired from politics at the end of his first term as president. Nelson Mandela will be remembered always for his humility, empathy, leadership power and strong efforts towards South African liberation.
CULTURE OF SOUTH AFRICA
The South Africa culture is known for its ethnic and cultural diversity. Culture in South Africa is about as diverse as it can come. The black South African still has a large number of rural inhabitants who lead largely poor lives. Though cultural traditions survive most strongly among black South African, aspects of traditional culture have declined as the black South African have become increasingly urbanised and westernised. Urban black South Africans, generally, speak English or Afrikaans in addition to their native languages. Some smaller but significant groups of blacks also speak Khoisan languages. Some of them are speakers of the endangered languages most of whom belong to the KhoiSan family, that receive no official status.
The life style of members of middle class, who are predominantly white, is very similar in many respects to that of people found in Western Europe, North America and Australasia. Some of them often study and work abroad for a great experience to the world market.
Indian South Africans are very particular about their heritage, languages and religious beliefs, being Christian, Hindu or Muslim and speaking English, with Indian languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil or Gujarati.
South Africa is a multi-cultural society and defining distinct subgroups by skin colour. The mixture and joining in South Africa’s urban areas, along with the suppression of traditional cultures during the apartheid years which shows that the old ways of life are vanishing but traditional black cultures is still prevailing across the country.
Marriage customs and taboos differ across the different groups but the majority of the traditions are based on the beliefs in a mannish divinity, inherited spirits, and paranormal forces. Generally, ‘polygamy’ (a marriage which includes more than two partners) is accepted and ‘lobolo’ (dowry) is usually paid.
Zulu is one of the strongest surviving black cultures and massed Zulu singing at Inkatha Freedom Party demonstrations is a powerful expression of this ancient culture. The Xhosa also have a strong presence; they are known as the red people because of the red-dyed clothing worn by most adults. The Ndebele are a related group, who live in the north-western corner of what is now Mpumalanga in strikingly painted houses.
The distinct culture of the Afrikaners has developed in a deliberate isolation, which saw them wandering around with cows and the Bible while 19th-century Europe experimented with democracy and liberalism. Till today, rural communities are revolving around the conservative Dutch Reformed Churches, however ‘Afrikaner redneck’ is extremely far from a tautology.
Apart from the Afrikaners, most of the European South Africans are of British extraction. The British generally tend to have the dominance over the business and financial sectors. There is also a large and prominent Jewish population and a significant Indian population.
Though South Africa is a home to a great diversity of cultures, most were suppressed during the apartheid years when day-to-day practice of traditional and contemporary cultures was ignored, and destroyed. In the society, one can be jailed for owning a politically incorrect painting, serious art was forced underground and blandness ruled in the galleries and theatres.
Classes and Castes
Foundation of Cape Town was done in 1652. There were various indicators of racial unfairness. Slaves were of mixed parentage, they rated high than Africans. Since three centuries the system of racism slowly attained a legal status in society. In that process, class and economic status of darker people confined as lower. Despite of racism these people obtained a formal education and a European-style middle class cultural and economic identity as merchants, farmers, colonial civil servants, clerks, teachers, and clergy also many prominent leaders were born including Nelson Mandela.
Symbols of Social Stratification
Before colonialism, the aristocratic chiefs symbolized their authority by wearing special animal-skin clothing, ornaments, and the power of military equipments, by functioning of chiefly courts and assemblies and they were also entitled by custom to display, mobilize, and increase their wealth by acquisition of many wives and large herds of cattle. Inkhatha march served as a status symbol, with fine horses, pioneer wagons, and horse-drawn carts giving way to imported luxury automobiles.
African communities were based on the hereditary period of rule, in which the senior son of the highest or “great wife” of a chief succeeded his father. Whereas succession was not straightforward, and brothers, older sons of other wives, and widows all competes for power.
A decade later, Afrikaner emigrants from the Cape ( voortrekkers ), established the independent republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, ruled by an elected president and a popular assembly called a volksraad .
Leadership and Political Officials
Democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela was one of the most admired political figures in the world. There are nine provinces, each with a premier selected by the local ruling party and provincial ministerial executives.
Social Problems and Control
Legacy problems amount to a social crisis. Unrepresentative government and repressive racial regulations created mistrust of the law among the black majority. Unemployment is rapidly increasing since 1994 which leads to highest crime rates. The education and health care facilities are failing. The established black townships are tapped under unemployment, crime, and insecurity, including drug dealings, alcoholism, rape, domestic violence, and child abuse.
The South African Defense Force was notorious for its unstable intervention in the civil war in Angola in the mid-1970s. After 1994, the army has renamed by South African National Defense Force (SANDF). It achieved progress toward racial integration under the command of recently promoted black officers drawn from the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe, and the military budget experienced reductions that have limits ability of the SANDF to respond military emergencies. Major military venture since 1994 leads of an invasion force to save Lesotho’s elected government which was poorly planned and executed. Peacekeeping missions were doubted by high rates of HIV infection.
SOCIAL WELFARE AND CHANGE PROGRAMS
Land restitution and reform, judicial reform, pro-employee labor regulations, welfare grants, free primary schooling, pre-natal and natal medical care, tough penalties for crimes and child abuse, and high taxes and social spending are all part of the ruling party’s efforts to address the social crisis.
These problems have been difficult to deal with because only 30% of the population contributes to national revenue and because poverty is widespread and deeply rooted. This effort has been made more difficult by restrictions on the level of deficit spending the government can afford without deterring local and foreign investment. An extreme level of social spending, however, has eased social tension and unrest and helped stabilize the democratic transformation.
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Baby care is traditionally the sphere of mothers, grandmothers, and older sisters in all communities. Among the social problems affecting these communities prevalence of early teenage pregnancy. Many white middle-class families have part/full-time servants who assist with child care, including the care of infants. The employment of servants to rear children exposes children to adult caregivers of other cultures and allows unskilled women to support their own absent children.
Child Rearing and Education
Primary context of family is for the socialization of the young. The African extended family system provides a range of adult caregivers and role models for children within the kinship network. African families have shown elasticity as a socializing agency, but repression and poverty have damaged family structure among the poor. Middle-class families of all races socialize their children in the manner of suburban Europeans.
Today a unified system of formal Western schooling includes the entire population, but the damage done by the previous educational structure has been difficult to overcome. Schools in black areas have few resources, and educational privilege still exists in the wealthier formerly white suburbs. Expensive private academies and schools maintained by the relatively wealthy Jewish community are among the country’s best. Rates of functional illiteracy remain high.
There are more than twenty universities and numerous technical training institutes which are of varying quality and many of them are nominated as black ethnic universities under apartheid have continued to experience political disturbances and financial crises. Now racially mixed universities are also experiencing financial difficulties in the face of a declining pool of qualified entrants as well as slow rate of economic growth.
South Africa is a deeply religious country with high rates of participation in religious life. The population is tremendously Christian with only very small Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu minorities. Other important denominations include Roman Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Anglicans. Indigenous Black African religion centered on veneration of and guidance from the ancestors, belief in various minor spirits, spiritual modes of healing, and seasonal agricultural rites. The drinking of cereal beer and the ritual slaughter of livestock accompanied the many occasions for family and communal ritual feasting such as births, initiation, marriage, and funerals.
Indigenous African religious practitioners included herbalists and diviners who attended to the spiritual needs and maladies of both individuals and communities. In some cases their clairvoyant powers were employed by chiefs for advice and prophesy. Historically, Christian missionaries and traditional diviners have been enemies, but this has not prevented the dramatic growth of hybrid Afro-Christian churches, religious movements, prophetism, and spiritual healing alongside mainstream Christianity. Other important religions include Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. For the Afrikaners, the Dutch Reformed Church has provided a spiritual and organizational foundation for their nationalist cultural politics and ideology.
Rituals and Holy Places
All religions and ethnic sub national groups have founded shrines to their tradition where momentous events have occurred, their leaders are buried, or miracles are believed to have happened. The grave of Sheikh Omar, for example, a seventeenth-century leader of resistance to Dutch rule in the East Indies who was transported to the Cape and became an early leader of the “Malay” community, is sacred to Cape Muslims.
Afrikaners regard the site of the Battle of Blood River (Ncome) in 1838 as sacred because their leader Andries Pretorius made a covenant with their God promising perpetual devotion if victory over the vastly more numerous Zulu army were achieved. The long intergroup conflict over the land itself has led to the sacralization of many sites that are well remembered and frequently visited by a great many South Africans of all backgrounds.
Death and the Afterlife
In addition to the beliefs in the soul and afterlife of the varying world religions in South Africa, continued belief in and consultation with family ancestors remains strong among Black Africans.
People at a Zulu market
Zulu is the largest South African language group, with about nine million speakers, but it does not represent a dominant ethnic grouping.
Formal communal graveyards, not a feature of pre-colonial African culture, have since become a focus of ancestral veneration and rootedness in the land. Disused graves and ancestral shrines have most recently figured in the land restitution claims of expropriated African communities lacking formal deeds of title to their former homes.
THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN INDIA AND SOUTH AFRICA
India and South Africa share history and festivals which reminds of the heritage.
They both are richly diverse countries.
The people in India and South Africa are majority of dark skin.
Indian’s and South Africans like spicy food.
The Poverty rate of South Africa and India is almost the same.
Animal life also similar in both the countries, where elephant and monkey are the two most common animas among India and South Africa.
Jungles are also there in both the countries with the similar landscape.
Indian weather and South African weather is hot.
Both Indians and Africans were slave by the outsiders.
India and South Africa both are rich by their culture.
Both India and South Africa are still developing.
India and South Africa has geniuses who know every thing in their field.
India has a national holiday on 2nd October for celebrating the great man’s birthday is also a significant day in South Africa.
Both India and South Africa are seen as the backward places by some of the countries.
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