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PEOPLE OF SOUTH AFRICA

  • About 56 million people of diverse origins, cultures, languages & religions live in South Africa. In the last census (2011) the people are described in terms of five racial population groups: Black African at 80.2%, White at 8.4%, Coloured at 8.8%, Indian /Asian at 2.5%, and Other/Unspecified at 0.5%. 45% of the population is under 25 years of age and only 12% is over 55 years...what are the implications of this very young population?

  • The white population has experienced a sharp decline over time, due to emigration and much lower fertility rates.There are also an estimated five million undocumented foreigners living in South Africa.

  • There is an enduring crisis of illiteracy in South Africa. 774 million adults (15 years and older) still cannot read or write – two thirds of them are women.

  • Housing is one of the greatest challenges facing the government. By 2011, the census showed that the number of shacks and informal dwellings had increased to about 1.9 million. However, there are many wealthy and middle income people who live in modern luxurious homes, townhouses and apartments. Some of the rural people still live in rondavels (huts) made from mud bricks and thatched roofs or corrugated roofing sheets.

  • The culture of South Africa is varied and manifold, consisting of a mixture of tribes that each has their own unique characteristics. South Africa is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation,” a term which was coined by former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and neatly describes the country’s multicultural diversity. Black African culture is known for its art, dance and music.Today songs reflect different styles such as gospel, jazz and rock, but often have a strong local flavor such as Kwaito (house music) mbube Zulu and kwela (jazzy street music).

  • South Africans generally wear contemporary modern clothing. Some people living in rural communities still wear tribal clothing which consists of animal skins, feather and beadwork. But traditional clothing varies from tribe to tribe.The clothing is usually colourful. Unmarried women wear bands around their waists, ankles, necks and elbows called “izincu”. Married women wear hats and shawls to symbolize marital status.