So before stepping foot in such a remarkably diverse country, here are a few local hints to help you discover how lekker biltong is, how to use your vuvuzela and what to do if you’re invited to the veld to brai some Boerewors by an oke who pulls up at the robot in his bakkie saying howzit and to bring your bru and will see you now now.
‘Eish what a language
Just like Australia, South Africa has its own unique, unusual and somewhat entertaining slang. Derived from a melting pot of 11 official languages, ‘South Africanism’ mixes it up with a seductive menu of words and phrases drawn from the various languages.
Ag – (Pronounced like the ach in German) – can preceded any sentence for various effects
Bakkie – (Pronounced ‘buck-key’) – a utility / pick-up truck or Tupperware container
Baie dankie – thanks a lot; thank you very much
Biltong – dried, seasoned meat, similar to jerky
Boer – Afrikaans word for farmer
Boerewors (boerie) – spicy South African farmers’ sausage
Boetie (Pronounced ‘Boet – tea’) – South African Afrikaans for little brother; this can also be used as a nickname.
Bokkie – a small buck, or affectionate name for a female (my bokkie)
Bra – Afrikaans word for male friend – “dude” in English
Bru – male friend
Braai – a BBQ
Droë wors (Pronounce ‘oë’ as an ‘ooa’) – dried sausage, similar to biltong
Eish! (Pronounced ‘aysh’) – a phrase of exclamation eg. Eish! I am so tired
Howzit – how’s it going? How are you?
Just now – interchangeable meanings which could be ‘just now’, ‘tomorrow or perhaps ‘never’
Kombi – a minivan
Lekker – great / tasty
Now now – Meaning in a little bit, a bit later (not to be confused with Just now)
Oke (Pronounced ‘oak’) – a guy / bloke
Robot – traffic light
Shabeen – A local drinking establishment ( Wandi’s Shabeen is most famous in Soweto township)
Shame – A response for just about anything, and is normally added to the sentence ‘Ag shame man’
Veld – bush / grassland
Vuvuzela (Pronounced ‘Voo’ – ‘voo’ – ‘ze’ – ‘la’ ) – Setswana for a stadium horn, used by football fans during matches in South Africa
Out in the veld
South Africa is home to some of the world’s most popular wildlife, including the famous “big five” and since wildlife safaris are South Africa’s most popular tourist activity, you may find it helpful to know some interesting facts about the animals that call South Africa home.
The big five consist of buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhinoceros and were given this name, not because of their massive sizes, but because of how difficult and dangerous it was to hunt them down. However, the amazing array of wildlife species goes beyond the big five and to sound like a seasoned safari expert, these terms may assist.
Antelope: A herd of antelope
Ant: A colony or An army of ants
Baboons: A troop of baboons
Buffalo: A herd of buffalo
Buck: A brace or clash of bucks
Crocodile: A float of crocodiles
Elephant: A herd of elephants
Giraffe: A tower or journey of giraffes/giraffe
Heron: A hedge of herons
Hippo: A pod or bloat of hippopotamuses /hippopotami
Leopard: A leap (leep) of leopards
Lion: A pride of lions
Monkey: A troop of monkeys
Owls: A parliament of owls
Rhino: A crash or herd of rhinos
Stork: A mustering of storks
Warthog A Sounder of warthog
Zebra: A dazzle of zebras
A kaleidoscope of quirks
More than just the wildlife and landscape, South Africa has some pretty interesting title and interesting facts you may not have known.
- Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world and one of the planet’s 12 main energy centres, radiating magnetic, electric or spiritual energy.
- The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the world’s six floral kingdoms – and the only one which is wholly contained within a single country.
- South Africa is now the only country in the world to have hosted the Soccer, Cricket and Rugby World Cup!
- Some countries have deserts; some have subtropical forests, right? South Africa has: deserts, wetlands, grasslands, bush, subtropical forests, mountains and escarpments.
- South Africa’s Cape Winelands have around 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers. Included in the Cape Winelands region is Route 62, considered the longest wine route in the world. That alone is good reason to visit South Africa if you haven’t yet been!
- Not a wine fan? What about beer? South African brewery SABMiller ranks – by volume – as the largest brewing company in the world. Saffers love their beer…but the real reason the brewery is so big? SABMiller also supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.
- And after all that wine and beer, nothing beats a hangover better than water. South Africa’s drinking water is rated 3rd best in the world for being “safe and ready to drink”.
- South Africa is the only country in the entire world that has voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons programme.
- South Africa is extremely rich in mining and minerals and considered the world’s leader with nearly 90% of all the platinum metals on earth and around 41% of the entire world’s Gold!
- The world’s largest themed resort hotel in the world – The Palace of the Lost City – is found in South Africa. Surrounding the Palace is a 25 hectare manmade botanical jungle with almost 2 million plants, trees and shrubs.
- South Africa is home to the oldest meteor scar in the world – the Vredefort Dome in a town called Parys. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The oldest remains of modern humans were found in South Africa and are well over 160,000 years old.
- The Karoo region in the Western Cape is home to some of the best fossils of early dinosaurs. In fact, it is estimated that some 80% of the mammalian fossils found to date were found in the Karoo.
- There are more than 2000 shipwrecks off the South African coast, most dating back at least 500 years.
- South Africa is home to the highest commercial bungi jump in the world at 710 feet.
- General Motors South Africa is the only place outside of the USA to build the Hummer H3!
- Despite the country’s status as a democratic republic, the Province of KwaZulu-Natal has a monarchy, specially provided for by the Constitution. Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu is the King of the Zulu Nation, has 27 kids and 6 wives and lives, literally, like a King!
- SA has three capital cities: Pretoria is the Executive Capital, Cape Town the Legislative Capital and Bloemfontein the judicial Capital.
- South Africa is the only place to have two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street. Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto
- The South African Rovos Rail is considered the most luxurious train in the world.