South African traditions are as diverse as the people itself. The beginnings as colourful as the land. Their traditions articulated through dance, music, sculpture, beadwork and art. South Africans have managed to keep and pass down their traditions for a long time. Keeping it almost pure. Insuring the next generation knows and treasures their cultural practices.
The original people living in South Africa were the KhoiKhoi and San. They were hunters and trackers and also early artists. This is evidenced by rock art in South Africa. These “Bushmen” have passed on their tracking skills and are still somewhat in use against poachers. This is a dying culture, though. There is an endeavor to preserve their language and culture.
Shield bearing warrior men is how you would envision South Africa a couple of decades ago. You would be referring to the Zulu people. They are also known for their grass huts, beadwork, and basketry. It is common to practice ancestor worship. They make sacrifices and offerings as they believe their ancestors can mediate on their behalf.
You want rings? The Ndebele nation’s colourful tradition includes the Dzilla. Married females wear brass ‘dzilla’ or copper rings around their necks. This is a sign of wealth and status. These metal rings can also be worn on other parts of the body. Their colourful tradition can be seen on their beadwork and houses. These houses are painted by the womenfolk and the craft is passed down from generation to generation. First thought to be an expression of cultural resistance in a defeat from Dutch-speaking settlers, this lived on to be an unmistakable part of their identity.
Traditional South African food are a combination of styles from indigenous people and the colonisers influence from French, German, British and Dutch with a smattering of Indonesian flavour. Droewors (drywors) and biltong, which are now available in a grocery store, is a 400-year old traditional South African snack made from cured beef or game. It is cured in a mix of salt, sugar, vinegar, pepper and coriander and air dried to last longer. Braii (burn the meat) is another experience to be tasted. It is grilled meat shared with the community. Such gatherings include music and a laid back atmosphere to enjoy your food.
Traditional African masks have been used in rituals and ceremonies for centuries. Used for communicating with spirits as they represent spirits of ancestors. In a way it transforms the wearer and can only be worn by a dancer becoming a medium, an intermediary.
Such colourful traditions, not all can be mentioned as it is centuries old worth of stories, struggle and identity.