South African Religion and Culture

South Africa is made up of many people from many races, all with their own traditions and cultures. When you visit this country, you will see a mixture of celebrations and religions as well as holidays for all the people. The diversity of the South African people is jointly celebrated on the 21st March as Heritage Day.

Religion in South Africa

With Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, and many African tribal religions, you will find that certain aspects of each religion are socially accepted more so than in other countries.

For example, Muslims are allowed to cover their heads at school, whereas before they were forced to remove them. In everyday society people are used to celebrating their unique identities and the new found freedom they have been given.

The most intimate place where the difference in cultures is seen is for a traditional wedding ceremony. In the African tribes they have what is known as Lobola which is basically when the man asking for a girl’s hand in marriage gives cattle to her father as a payment. This symbolizes his wealth and the ability to take care of this woman.

Many other African cultures are also realized, some of which however are not very popular. The Sangoma or witch doctor is an ancient tribal doctor who can supposedly heal the sick and predict the future to a certain degree. In the African culture people are called to be Sangomas by their ancestors in heaven, just as Christians are called to be priests by God. The dispute over what a true Sangoma is has affected many lives in the villages as well as in the urban settlements. There have been some infamous tales of Sangomas sacrificing children and using people’s body parts for moetie (medicine).

Many of the true Sangomas are horrified that people are committing these horrible deeds and calling themselves Sangomas.

Various parts of South Africa are still mainly rural with education not playing a big part in everyday life here. This has also led many to believe the false stories behind how HIV/AIDS is contracted and how to cure it. With HIV and AIDS coming to the fore of many conversations in South Africa, the rural communities have now started various programs to promote safe sex and contraception. Contraception however, is not accepted by many cultures including certain African ones and even many Christians.

The many religious beliefs of people in South Africa allow the heritage of the nation as a whole to shine and on Heritage Day you can witness the mix of vibrant cultures and traditional costumes of the African nation including colorful, beaded outfits, Zulu skins, Indian saris, Muslim cloths and other European outfits to represent the Dutch and British elements.

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