South Africa Society

South Africa Society

South Africa Society

South Africa Society

Proportion of literate adults: 87% (according to UNESCO 2018)

Major religions: Christianity 75.5%, Hinduism 1.4%, Islam 1.4%

Urban population: 66.4% (2018)

Life expectancy (female / male): 67.3 (women) / 61.1 years (men) (2018)

Gender Inequality Index (GII): Rank 97 of 162 (2018)

Number of births per woman: 2.4 (2018)

Infant mortality: 36.4 per 1000 live births (2018)

Social structure

Eleven national languages

Language distribution in South Africa

Language distribution in South Africa

There are eleven official national languages (in order of frequency): Zulu, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, sePedi, English, seTswana, seSotho, xiTsonga, siSwati, tshiVenda, isiNdebele.

During apartheid (1948-1994) Afrikaans was the national language. The two most common mother tongues are isiZulu (approx. 11 million speakers) and isiXhosa (approx. 9 million speakers). With reference to the linguistic diversity, numerous new place names were introduced after 1994, which can irritate travelers and those unfamiliar with the country, at least in the first weeks of their stay.

Since the colonial division into ethnic groups, the most important groups in South Africa are: Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Tswana, Shangaan / Tsonga, Swasi and Ndebele.

Social structure

As a major country in African continent according to clothingexpress, South Africa is a country that is divided several times in terms of property, education and occupation, ethnicities, skin colors, languages, religions, urban-rural differences, age and gender. Today racism is a violation of equality and anti-discrimination laws. The government has signed the international anti-discrimination treaties and is submitting the necessary reports to the South African Commission on Human Rights and civil society initiatives such as the anti-discrimination forum. Despite the legal changes and state and civil society anti-racism programs, the long-term effects of the racial divisions of the apartheid regime have not been overcome. The apartheid laws split the population into four groups: dominant whites (numerical minority), Asians / Indians (mostly English speaking), colored (Afrikaans speaking), blacks (majority of the population). The social hierarchy was based on this division: During the apartheid state and its forerunners since the 1930’s, the whites – especially poor, uneducated whites- Provided with a comprehensive system of privileges and preferred only because of their skin color, Indians and Coloreds were given some educational and work opportunities, but at the same time were given access to property, businesses and in many areas of life, for example in institutions and companies, in the economy Living space and political participation. These hierarchies are still a source of controversy today. Because the black majority of the population was particularly discriminated against in all contexts.

The racist allocation determined the place of residence and the infrastructure of a settlement or a house (with / without water connection, sanitary facilities, electricity), access to the education and health system, professional opportunities and limitations, income, marriage and family life, political participation or exclusion and the legal status of a person. The apartheid laws passed from 1948 onwards regulated everyday life and criminalized the smallest offenses as criminal offenses, in particular so-called passport offenses, e.g. when a homeland resident visited her husband to clarify important family matters in the city. There she was considered illegal and could be arrested, which during the 40-year apartheid period over 17 million women and men concerned. Customers and young people suffered in many ways from repression, the humiliation of their parents, the destruction of families and the violence of state security forces and their henchmen.

Migrant workers' dormitory in Soweto

Migrant workers’ dormitory in Soweto

White House in Grahamstown

White House in Grahamstown

Consequences of Apartheid – Inequalities and Inherited Ethnicity

Both in public life and in private white households, where black people worked as servants, adult men were referred to as “boys” and adult women for centuries, not only during apartheid, as “maids” and treated like underage children. Many white women, who were responsible for housekeeping according to the division of roles, were involved – some to this day. In this way they set up a pecking order in the private sphere, which contributed to the preservation of the racist regime in public. The relationship with domestic workers and disputes about their (wrong) behavior are still the subject of discussion at private meetings. Working people from Europe are often called upon to position. The labor rights and wages of domestic workers with South African citizenship are now regulated by law. The situation is problematic for domestic workers from crisis-ridden Zimbabwe, who have been competing with South African women for several years.

The state and civil society are still asked to overcome the differences between people of different skin color and origins in institutions, organizations and companies, in everyday behavior and in thinking. The vision of a rainbow nation of the former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela’s policy of reconciliation, and anti-discrimination laws and anti-racism programs are milestones in overcoming the historical burden. It is still disputed to what extent the dazzling interaction of social groups has become a reality like a rainbow. Because inequalities in many areas of life are still among the structural problems that burden politics, economy and society.

Problems with group assignments

Social anthropological and sociological studies deal in more detail with the genesis of ethnicity invented or constructed in the colonial context and its instrumentalization by the apartheid regime. The English term ” Coloreds ” is difficult to translate, it is a term that names Afrikaans-speaking people of different origins, cultural and political orientations. A sub-group are the so-called Cape Malays, the apartheid regime stipulated that they had to live and work mainly in the greater Cape Town area. As poorly paid workers, they also worked on farms in what is now the Western Cape and Northern Cape. “Mixed race” is still seen as discriminatory.

Zulu nationalism

Zulu nationalism has a long continuity in politics and played a major role in the bloody battles between the ANC and the UDF and the Zulu party Inkatha in KwaZulu-Natal during the apartheid period. Since President Jacob Zuma took office in 2009, who served until February 2018, conservative Zulu nationalism has experienced a renaissance in South African politics. Zuma attached great importance to his Zulu identity and sought to close ranks with influential chiefs in disputes with Thabo Mbeki about the ANC leadership and the presidential issue. Zuma likes to cover up indiscretions and wrong political decisions with an emphasis on Zulu traditions. Political observers and political scientists like William Gumede see the danger that ethnicity and tribalism harm society and democracy.

In addition, Zulu nationalism – since the migrant labor of men during apartheid – is often associated with an overemphasis on martial masculinity and possessive sexual behavior. This was exemplified by the rape trial against Jacob Zuma in 2006. Not only in KwaZulu-Natal, a province with very high rape and HIV rates, do such behavioral expectations, especially among young men, not contribute to family well-being and the development of society.

Young men in South Africa

Young men in South Africa