South Africa has a rich and varied cultural life where the country’s political history, the struggle against the apartheid system and issues of heritage and identity have long played, and still play, a prominent role.
Dance, music and theater were important ingredients in the resistance against apartheid. In the country’s black township areas, what we in Swedish call shantytowns, a number of different styles were developed, such as the protest dance toyi-toyi and the instrumental driving tradition isicathamiya, with roots in the Zulu culture and common among miners. Jazz music of various kinds has always been strongly rooted among black South Africans and was an important part of the protest movement during apartheid. Marabi, kwela and mbqanga are different specializations of shantytown jazz. Even among colored South Africans, jazz plays an important role, not least in Cape Town where cape jazz, a kind of parade jazz, is still a strong tradition.
Today’s music life is characterized partly by modern music from Europe and the USA, and partly by African folk music. New styles that mix African music with influences from different parts of the world have also emerged. Among Africans (see Population and language ), a form of dance-friendly folk music is popular. Stylistically, it has features of American country music and Swedish dance band music and both the music and the dance are called langarm or sokkie.
The strongest common musical denominator between the ethnic groups is choral music. Many black South Africans have embraced Western liturgical choral music, and Western choirs have embraced the folk music of African cultures. The choir tradition is strong and South Africa has several internationally renowned choirs.
Among the most famous South African artists over the years are the singers Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie, the jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, the trumpeter Hugh Masekela, the folk pop musician Johnny Clegg and the male choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo. A more modern addition to internationally acclaimed artists is, for example, the pop group Freshleyground.
During the politically turbulent 1970s and 1980s, a protest theater with banned plays was developed in hidden basements. The plays were entertaining and at the same time conveyed information about the living conditions of black South Africans during the repression. Known is, for example, Market Theater from Johannesburg, which has collaborated with Stockholm City Theater.
Like music and theater, South African literature is marked by the country’s political history. Criticism of racial politics during the 20th century played an important role and among the foremost authors are Nadine Gordimer (Nobel Prize 1991), André Brink and Breyten Breytenbach. Among the more famous black writers of the 20th century are the so-called Soweto poets, such as Mongane Wally Serote, Oswald Mtshali and Sipho Sepamla. The abolition of apartheid and the introduction of democracy in the early 1990s meant a major change for many socially critical writers.
The country’s other modern authors include JM Coetzee (Nobel Prize 2003), Pamela Jooste, Sindiwe Magona, Peter Abrahams and Fred Khumalo. Detective author Deon Meyer has received a great deal of international attention in recent years, as has author Marlene van Niekerk.
South African film has had several successes. The Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival went to U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha in 2005, a film adaptation of Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen on Xhosa directed by Mark Dornford-May. Drum by Zola Maseko won the 2005 Oagadougou Film Festival. In 2006, Gavin Hood won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Tsotsi.
South Africa also has a strong entertainment tradition rooted in political satire. The actor Pieter-Dirk Uys with his alter ego Evita Bezuidenhout is one of the most famous, as is the satirist Jonathan Shapiro (active under the signature Zapiro). Modern stand-up comedians in the same spirit include Trevor Noah and Nik Rabinowitz.
The closure is partly illegal
A court ruled that parts of the strict shutdown in South Africa violate the Constitution. In the ruling, Judge Norman Davis addresses certain rules that violate citizens’ freedoms and rights without any evidence of how the restrictions prevent the spread of infection. The government will appeal the verdict. The following day, the business organization Sakeliga wins another legal battle with the government for relief of the coronary restrictions. The opposition party DA has also drawn the government before the court to try the coronary restrictions.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of South Africa, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
The coronary restriction is softened
According to Abbreviationfinder, South Africa is easing the rules that apply in the efforts to limit the coronas center in the country. Among other things, public transport can start rolling, millions return to their jobs and it is now allowed to buy alcohol between Mondays and Thursdays, causing long queues outside the shops. Schools will open next week. The shutdown that started at the end of March has been described as among the toughest in the world and around 250,000 people have been arrested or fined for breaking the rules. Tobacco and alcohol smuggling has gone up but the crimes of violence have gone down under the harsh corona rules. The closure is said to have cost the country’s economy many billions, and as estimated by the Tax Agency, as many as 1.8 million jobs may have been lost. Liberal opposition party The Democratic Alliance wants the restrictions to be lifted completely while the opposition party on the left side EFF criticizes the easing and warns of increased spread of infection. To date, 705 people of South Africa’s nearly 60 million residents have died in the suites of covid-19.
The opposition questions measures against the corona
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is dragging the government to court to have some of the restrictions imposed in the fight against corona tested. South Africa’s strict rules eased slightly on May 1, but the DA is questioning the time limit for when on the day South Africans may train and the curfew after 8 pm. The DA also urges the government to completely abolish the closure due to the high cost of society. South Africa is the hardest-hit country in the region and has mobilized health and medical personnel to carry out mass tests of the population. The goal is to test 10,000 people daily, but the laboratories are unable to cope with the increased workload, test equipment begins to press and the criticism of mass testing increases. The number of infected people in the country continues to rise, the worst affected is the Western Cape Province.
Prisoners are released to prevent the spread of infection
In order to prevent the spread of covid-19 in the country’s prisons, 19,000 prisoners are released on condition. Only “low risk prisoners” are covered by the release. A few days later, it is found that the number of coronas infected in South Africa exceeds 10,000 and just under 200 people have died as a result of the viral disease. The country is the hardest hit in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the restrictions were eased slightly on May 1, companies in the manufacturing and mining industries have been able to start again. Restaurants are allowed to deliver food for take-out and three hours each morning the South Africans get to exercise outdoors. The sale of tobacco and alcohol is still prohibited. South Africa has launched an experiment with TBC vaccine to reduce the risk of being infected by covid-19 or to alleviate the symptoms of infected.
Massive rescue packages should help the vulnerable
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announces that the state will invest the equivalent of $ 26 billion on a social and economic rescue package to mitigate the effects of the country’s shutdown. Among other things, the money will go to increased social grants, food packages and support to the unemployed. The health budget is also being expanded to improve the capacity of healthcare during the pandemic. Another 73,000 soldiers will begin patrolling the country’s streets to ensure compliance with the corona rules. So far, nearly 130 public servants have been arrested for violating the restrictions, the majority of whom are police and many of them have sold confiscated alcohol to the public.
Food upset and hunger crisis
The unrest in the poor housing areas is growing. Across the country, violent protests against the country’s shutdown have taken place. Police meet protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets. Several grocery stores have been looted and anger rises as the promised food packages from the state do not reach the needy. The government has earmarked the equivalent of 2.2 million US dollars for food for the poor. A few days later, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his weekly speech, expressed his disgust at the suspicions that sailed that public servants in several provinces seized the emergency broadcasts and then sold food packages or distributed them to his family and relatives.
The shutdown is extended
In an effort to reduce the rate of infection spread by covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa extends the shutdown of the country by two weeks. The day before, Ramaphosa punished the Minister of Communications and IT, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, for breaking the national restrictions and lunching with friends. Ndabeni-Abrahams is suspended for two months. It is the other minister who is blamed for not following the new rules. In another disciplinary case, a few days later, four police officers are arrested who are suspected of violating the alcohol ban that applies during the shutdown.
Asylum seekers and migrants were intercepted
Police storm a church in central Cape Town, evicting hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers. Most of the migrants come from Congo-Kinshasa and Burundi and have occupied the church since February when they were forced out of the camp they had set up outside the UN Refugee Agency. The migrants are taken to temporary housing outside the city where the authorities have prepared a place for the city’s homeless in accordance with the new coronary restrictions.
Violence in the tracks of the coronas
A police officer and a security guard are arrested on suspicion of shooting a man who violated the new coronary restrictions. In total, three people are believed to have been killed for failing to obey the rules that apply during the country’s shutdown (see March 26, 2020). Several film clips on social media show how police and police forces are guilty of assault and violations. In order to keep queuing to keep the distance between each other, police have shot with rubber bullets and used whips. Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula condemns the abuse.
Curfew in the fight against corona
At midnight, South Africa begins a three-week shutdown to fight the corona virus. In the past, schools have been closed and strict travel restrictions have been introduced for travelers to and from high-risk countries. Now the bans are tightened and military is deployed to assist the police with surveillance. According to the new rules, no one is allowed to move outside their home except to visit a doctor, go to the bank or buy food and other essentials. Healthcare professionals, police and those working in social functions are exempt from the restrictions. All alcohol and cigarette sales are prohibited. All bars, cafes, restaurants and most shops are closed. Anyone who violates the rules risks imprisonment or fines.
Court cleans Ramaphosa
The Pretoria court that examined the Ombudsman’s report on President Cyril Ramaphosa cleans the president of all suspicions. In a review, the Ombudsman has accused Ramaphosa of darkening a donation to his campaign to win the role of ANC leader (see Aug. 12, 2019). In his report, the Ombudsman also highlighted suspicions of money laundering in connection with the donation. Following today’s ruling, criticism against the Ombudsman is increasing and her position is increasingly being questioned.
The first corona case is found
South Africa’s first case of coronavirus is discovered when a man who has been to Italy returns home and is tested positive for covid-19. Ten days later, domestic dispersal is observed in the country.
Uncertain electricity generation beds for the recession
For the second time in two years, South Africa is experiencing a recession. The debt is mainly attributable to the state-owned company Eskom’s inability to meet the country’s electricity needs. The scheduled power cuts that Eskom introduced to avoid a total failure are estimated to have cost hundreds of millions in 2019. In addition, South Africa has a large government debt, very high unemployment, low growth and several economic sectors that are going cancerous.
Court orders that former President Zuma be arrested
The trial of ex-president Jacob Zuma is postponed. Zuma’s lawyers refer to the president’s health condition, but the court does not accept the medical certificate presented by the lawyers. Instead, the court issues an order for Zuma to be arrested. The order will not take effect until May 6, when the trial will resume. Among other things, Zuma is suspected of having received bribes in connection with the large arms deal in 1999 between South Africa and several European countries, including Sweden. The case has been going on for over a decade and the ex-president has used every conceivable opportunity to delay the trial. In November, Zuma lost yet another attempt to appeal the prosecution. At the same time, investigations into corruption crimes are ongoing during Zuma’s time as President 2009–2018 (see July 15, 2019).
Convicting verdict for racist slurs
A man who, while traveling in Greece, filmed himself using his cellphone when he pledged that there was “not a single kaffir in sight” is sentenced to two years of probation or a fine of $ 3,200. The man has pleaded guilty. The word “kaffir” is a racist belligerent that whites used extensively against the country’s black majority under the apartheid system (see Modern History). In 2018, a real estate agent was sentenced to three years in prison, one of which is conditional, for repeatedly calling a policeman for “kaffir”. It was the first judgment of its kind. In a similar case in 2016, a woman was sentenced to fines for racially speaking out against blacks.
Chaos at Parliament’s opening
The opposition party on the left, EFF, objects to the participation of the apartheid regime’s last president, FW de Klerk, in the opening of parliament. The party’s representatives call De Klerk “killer” and demand that he remove himself. The protests also target the Minister of State-owned companies, Pravin Gordhan, who the EFF believes has run the companies at the bottom. The President decides to temporarily close the session and the EFF leaves the Chamber. In a delayed speech to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa promises fewer restrictions on independent electricity producers, a simpler procedure for starting new businesses and investments in the railway network, cheap housing and student housing. The speech highlights a number of challenges such as the country’s high youth unemployment, poor growth and high government debt.
Illegal miners are killed by rivals
Nine miners from South Africa’s neighbor Lesotho are stoned to death. The nine worked illegally in the country. The perpetrators suspected to be behind the act are also the illegal miners from Lesotho. According to the South African Human Rights Commission, thousands of people are active in the illegal gold mining that takes place in abandoned mines. Work is associated with great dangers and violence between rival groups is common.