Marzo 2024 | The peoples of South Africa

Prosegue il viaggio nel Commonwealth con Shenker! Scopri le storie delle persone del Sudafrica e lasciati ispirare dalla loro ricca eredità culturale.
The peoples of South Africa

The peoples of South Africa

Of all the people living in South Africa, about 80% of the population are Black South Africans. The remaining population consists of Africa’s largest communities of European (White South Africans), Asian (Indian South Africans and Chinese South Africans), and multi-racial (Colored South Africans) ancestry. South Africa is a multi-ethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions.

Its pluralistic make-up is reflected in the constitution’s recognition of 12 official languages, the fourth-highest number in the world. Some of the most famous are: Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, and English, as well as South African Sign Language, which was recognized as an official language in 2023. While all the languages are formally equal, some languages are spoken more than others. According to the 2022 census, the three most spoken first languages are Zulu (24.4%), Xhosa (16.6%), and Afrikaans (10.6%). Although English is recognized as the language of commerce and science, it is only the fifth most common home language.

As far as religions are concerned, Christians accounted for 79.8% of the population, with a majority of them being members of various Protestant denominations and a minority of Roman Catholics and other Christians. There is a substantial Jewish population, descended from European Jews who arrived as a minority among other European settlers. This population has now emigrated, mostly back to Israel. Even so, these numbers make the Jewish community in South Africa the twelfth largest in the world.

It was believed that many of the people who claimed no affiliation with any organized religion adhered to a traditional African religion. There are large numbers of traditional healers, and up to 60% of South Africans consult these healers, generally called sangoma (diviner) or inyanga (herbalist). These healers use a combination of ancestral spiritual beliefs and a belief in the spiritual and medicinal properties of local animals, vegetation and mushrooms commonly known as muti (medicine), to facilitate healing in clients.

It could be said that one of the most famous people in South Africa is Nelson Mandela. He was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician who served as the first president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the far left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. Globally regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often described as the “Father of the Nation”.



the peoples: le popolazioni;

an ancestry: una stirpe, una discendenza, un lignaggio;

to encompass: abbracciare includere;

the makeup: la costituzione;

formally: ufficialmente;

the home language: la lingua che si parla in famiglia;

to account for: giustificare, rappresentare;

a denomination: una confessione o denominazione religiosa (in questo contesto);

a minority: una minoranza;

a settler: un colono.

an affiliation: l’adesione, l’appartenenza:

to adhere to: il diventare membro, appartenere a un gruppo;

a healer: un guaritore; viene dal verbo inglese “to heal” che vuol dire guarire, risanare, curare;

a fully representative democratic election: un’elezione democratica pienamente rappresentativa;

to deem: sostenere, considerare;

eager: volenteroso, molto ben disposto;

acclaim: consenso, plauso, fama.


Discover South Africa: a Tale of Two Cities


altre notizie


Black Friday 2023

Da ormai diversi anni si è affermata anche in Italia la “ricorrenza” tutta americana del Black Friday: a testimoniarlo sono non solo le file fuori


Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Il 24 Novembre negli USA si festegga il Thanksgiving Day, il giorno del Ringaziamento. Si tratta di una festa cristiana celebrata il quarto o ultimo giovedì di novembre (in Canada invece si festegga il secondo lunedì di ottobre) per ringraziare Dio dei doni ricevuti durante l’anno trascorso.



Ricevi maggiori informazioni sui corsi di inglese Shenker