Web Frog: The South African Blog

Froggy Blogging about South AfricaWeb Frog is a home grown, local is lekker South African blog. Here, our aim is to capture the flavour of South African life: that is, the craziness of our roads, the chaos of taxi ranks, the dedication of our sports fans, the feeling invoked by the smell of boerewors sizzling away on an afternoon braai, the diversity of South African cultures, the crime rate, nouveau rich BEE moguls, the blue light brigade, pilanesberg accommodation, Brett Murray and the President’s crown jewels, strike seasons, Cosatu, the ever vocal DA, media censorship, Julius Malema and “bastard” journalists, the rustic beauty of the sleepy Eastern Cape, the quaintness of artistic Grahamstown property, the dramatic landscape of the Western Cape, Cape Town girls, Cape Town boys (although I’d be more interested in the former), Camps Bay, the question of land nationalisation and the security of Bloemfontein property, our blessed and always welcomed public holidays, our hybrid National Anthem…

The list could continue on and on, and indeed, there is so much to distinguish our little tip of the African continent from the rest of the World. In fact, it is an impossible task to dedicate one sight to capturing the national zeitgeist when one of the primary characteristics of the country and its multiplicity of inhabitants is diversity.

Diversity is well worn phrase, and seems to be over played in Rainbow Nation rhetoric. This is unfortunate, however, as the word really does go to describe a contemporary country whose recent history has been shaped by the confluence of many distinct and vastly differing global cultures. South Africa, owing to its geographical location on the Southern Trade Route, became a halfway house for European trade ships sailing to and from the East Indies. Cargo on these ships included everything from Arabian horses (some of which became the ancestors of the much trusted Boer Perd breed of horse) to tea, spices, precious metals and slaves. The Asiatic slaves brought to the Dutch run Cape colony have genetic heirs in our contemporary society in the Cape Coloured communities. The discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 brought an entirely new wave of European prospectors, fortune seekers and Imperialists to South Africa that resulted in an essentially European war being fought on African soil (the Anglo-Boer Wars).

About 1000 years prior to the landing of the Portuguese in Mossel Bay, the Bantu speaking peoples from central and eastern Africa migrated across the Limpopo River and entered into the geographical space that is now South Africa. The migrating Bantu tribes and the European settlers would often come into conflict, increasingly so as we neared the 20th century. The oldest inhabitants of the area, the Khoi Khoi and San peoples were driven from hunting lands by both groups, and have been forced into the dry Kalahari regions over the past few centuries. Today they could be seen as the most marginalised of South Africa’s ethnic groups, and have gone to court with the post-Apartheid government on more than one occasion regarding their right to land.

The optimism and harmony implied by the term “Rainbow” is perhaps not an entirely apt term to describe our current, fractured and often contrary nation. There is no denying, however, that it is certainly colourful: yes, in terms of ethnicity, but what we’d like to focus on is our colourfulness in terms of the characters that inhabit the media landscape, the colourfulness of our beautiful, dramatic physical landscape, the colourfulness of our world standard music industry, the colourfulness of Muizenberg Bay on a quiet, warm summer morning, the colourfulness of our vast and delicious cuisine, the colourfulness of our languages, and the colourfulness and creativity inherent in so many solutions that South Africans find in response to difficult socio-economic conditions.

And then, lest we forget, there’s the vuvuzela…