If anyone were to ask me about South African traditions before my trip, I would not have much to tell them. I think I would have said that they have many traditions similar to us in Sweden, since about 80% of the South African population are Christians, and practically all our Swedish traditions originates from Christianity.


As I guessed South Africa and Sweden have many similar holidays, for example Christmas and Easter, but they also have many other traditions which I first experienced during my first week here in South Africa. And during that week my host family was celebrating Heritage Day (September 24th). It is a holiday where you celebrate the diversity in South Africa, since there are many people with different ethnicities here. From my point of view this seems like a perfect tradition for South Africa, I mean, South Africa has eleven official languages! And that says a whole lot about the cultural diversity here.


My “host-mom” told me that Nelson Mandela, and his congress, created seven new holidays when they came to power after apartheid in 1994. One of them was Heritage Day, others were Human Rights Day, Freedom Day and Workers Day. Many of these holidays are in memory of the horrific things that happened during apartheid.


I think South Africa has many good traditions, because many of their holidays and traditions are much more modern than ours. They also help to bring the country together and reminds everyone that something like apartheid never should happen again. They celebrate human rights, something we often forget, or take for granted in the western world. Maybe we should learn from South Africa and focus on days like Women’s- and Children’s Rights Day.


My host family took me to a local Arts Festival to show me some of South Africa’s cultural life, and I experienced that it was a big mixture, just like the rest of South Africa. What I also found out was how hard it was to be a cultural worker here, since there is just not enough money. South Africa’s four biggest symphony orchestras are dissolved or are about to be dissolved. So, even though the local stage is large here, it is hard to get any further than that.


I am not saying that Sweden is the cultural centre of the world, but I do hope that South Africa’s cultural life will grow to be at least as big as Sweden’s, because I think South Africa can show the world how you can mix different music styles, art techniques, cultures, yes whole cultures, and make it so much better.


That’s all folks!




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