True Rainbow Nation

southafricaflagHaving different guests is a very exciting perk to owning a quaint bed & breakfast. New experiences are shared, facts are learned and the love of culture and languages discovered. It has always been a proud fact that South Africa recognizes 11 languages officially in its constitution. This means that there is mutual respect between the various cultures. Most South Africans can speak two or more languages; some are learned in school while others are learned through informal social networks.

Language in South Africa are interrelated, even English is sprinkled with words from Afrikaans, Zulu and others. Most of the time, when a South African talks they would use 2-3 major languages at a time.

Afrikaans is one of the known languages in South Africa but it is only the third most commonly used in the country. Most of the language origin is from the Dutch and it was formerly known as Cape Dutch as those living in the Cape spoke it. Now, Afrikaans is mostly spoken in those living in the Northern Cape.

English is the language of government, business and trade but it is only the fourth most commonly used. Schools also use English as the medium of instruction along with another language used in that province. English used in South Africa, though, have its own accent with influences from the British, Afrikaans and Dutch.

The second largest spoken language is isiXhosa, spoken by approximately 8 million people or 16% of the country’s population. It is a tonal language, which means that the way they speak or the tone of their speech affects the meaning of the words or the whole sentence. It belongs to the Nguni language of South Africa. Other languages that belong to this group are the isiNdebele, isiZulu and siSwati.

Aside from these languages, South Africa also speaks Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Setswana, Sesotho and Sesotho sa Leboa. Different regions and provinces would also have various accents and pidgins. Though this would create confusion for a first-time visitor, South Africa is a very friendly place and there is no shortage of people that would try to accommodate or answer your questions. Truly, South Africa deserves to be called the Rainbow Nation.

South Africa: Heaven for Archeologists

southafricaSouth Africa is truly a heaven for many enthusiasts, it boasts of being a multilingual, multi-ethnical country as evidenced by its recognition of 11 languages. Thought it belongs to continent that mostly has third world countries, South Africa is considered to be upper-middle income economy and is a newly industrialized country. Aside from this, it is also known for its biodiversity in animals, plants and fungi.  And for archeologists out there, some of the most noteworthy and oldest archeological sites in the world are found in South Africa.

Gauteng province, located northwest of its capital, has the Sterkfontein, roughly translates to Strong Spring. It was declared a World Heritage Site and branded as the “cradle of human life”. It was in this site that the students of the University of the Witwatersrand found the first adult Australopithecine. In 1997, another significant excavation was done when they found another specie of Australopithecus with almost a complete skeleton. This site is the richest site for early hominids, counting 500 hominids found in the area.

Another site rich in hominid remains is the Swartkrans. This site is only 20 miles outside of Johannesburg and also near to Sterkfontein. Found here are extremely old deposits that are measured to be about 1.8 million years old. Evidence of the usage of fire by humans was also found here and paleontologist Robert Broom found that they were not hunters rather they were the ones hunted by large cats.

A paleocave system is found near Gauteng province, another sight to see for archeologists. However, this site is a privately owned area and was a part of a mining industry thus it was vastly disturbed and only one active cave remains. Despite these, excavators and scientists were able to identify more than 95,000 individual specimens. Through this they were able to provide an analysis of the South African Pleistocene assemblage as well as the more fragile and valuable neonatal remains.

There are more sites in South Africa that would satisfy your archeological palate. These sites serve not only as evidence to humankind’s history but also remind us of how fragile a community is and how easy it can be destroyed by predators may it be natural or man-made.

Charm of South Africa

southafricaskylineOf all the countries, one country still amazes and keeps me rooted and that is South Africa. It amazes me how modern the place is but I still can see some of the customs handed down either from their African origins or European descent. South Africa can offer adventures and a plethora of activities whether you want to rough it up with nature or go on a luxury trip

The world’s most luxurious train can be found in South Africa. With USD 1500, a person can now embark on a short journey with this beauty. However, a reservation would have to be done at least 2 months before the journey because of the number of passengers who want to be on this train. Minimum requirement for men and women during dinner is jacket with tie and cocktail dress. It also does not have activities for children so it is not recommended for those travelling with children for a long time. Interestingly, the train does not have radios or television sets inside as it is consistent with its theme of the bygone era. Mobile phones are only to be used inside the private suites as not to disturb other passengers.

South Africa also boasts of the R62 wine route, the longest wine route in the world. A wine connoisseur would surely enjoy this route with various kinds of wineries along the route. It also appeals to those who know a little about wine simple with its breath taking beauty.

Being in South Africa also requires a person to know its quirks and native slangs. So here are some that I have learned through the years. If you want to say the food is very good, you can say “shop-shop” while gesturing two thumbs up, surely the chef would be ecstatic to see that. Traffic lights also have another name; they call it “robots” pronounced as “ro-boats”. It’s also a way of measuring their distance so do not be surprised if someone says “the next ATM will be on the right of the next robot”. And for people who are photography enthusiasts, you will not have a shortage of subjects in here as people would shout “Shoot me! Shoot me!” once they see you armed with a camera.

Visiting South Africa is a once in a lifetime experience, unless you come here twice or thrice, but it is assured that every visit will leave you with a different and lasting experience.