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  • NRL Makaleng


Welcome back to the new year and our cultural series of what makes South Africa great! Today, we will be speaking about the Afrikaner culture, which is rich with tradition and history. If you are a local to South Africa or have visited before, you will be familiar with the Afrikaans language, which is spoken by the Afrikaner people, so the culture might not be new to you!


During the 17th century, Dutch colonists also known as boers settled in South Africa. Over the next 200 years, French, German and British settlers joined them. They developed a unique cultural identity and language and became known as Afrikaners. Their language, Afrikaans, started as a spoken dialect but became a written language too. ​​Over the next 300 years, the Afrikaners battled native African peoples, established independent republics in the interior and fought the British in two wars known as the Anglo-Boer Wars. All territories were finally united on May 31, 1910, to become the Union of South Africa. But there was a clear division between the Afrikaners who belonged to Afrikaner political parties, who spoke Afrikaans, supported Afrikaner cultural and linguistic endeavors, and British-oriented, English-speaking South Africans.


Afrikaans, the language spoken by Afrikaners, evolved as a dialect of Dutch spoken by settlers on the frontier during the 18th and 19th centuries. As the French, German, and English speakers settled in South Africa, they contributed to the emerging language. Also contributing to the language and culture were slaves brought by the Dutch from their holdings in South-east Asia, especially Malaysians. Settlers also took vocabulary and cultural practices from the native African people. There are also some 13,000 persons of Asian descent in South Africa who speak Afrikaans as their native language.


Religious holidays include Christmas, which is on December 25; Good Friday and the secular Easter Monday, in March or April, and Ascension Day in April or May. Secular or non-religious holidays include New Year's Day and Boxing Day, which is also known as Goodwill Day on December 26. Political holidays include Founder's Day commemorating the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck who was the first governor of the Cape on April 6, 1652; Republic Day commemorating the establishment of the Union of South Africa on May 31, 1910 (and later the Republic of South Africa on May 31, 1960); Kruger Day, commemorating the birthday of Paul Kruger who was a former president from 1825–1904, on October 10; and the Day of the Vow, commemorating the day when Afrikaners resisted an attack by Zulu warriors on December 16, 1838.


The everyday meal of the Afrikaner is characterized by an emphasis on meat, starch, and cooked vegetables; green or fresh salads are rare. Afrikaners learned from the native peoples to make a porridge called stywe pap or putu pap (stiff porridge or putu porridge). It is common to have this porridge for breakfast with milk and sugar, and also to eat it with meat or boerewors, which is boer sausage, made of beef and pork at a braai (barbecue). Venison has always formed part of Afrikaner dishes, as grazing animals could be hunted or culled from national parks.

Sosaties, which is skewered marinated meat similar to shish kebab, is frequently included in a braai . Fish has become popular for those living near the ocean. Two foods from pioneer days are still popular among Afrikaners: beskuit and biltong. Beskuit, or rusks are biscuits that have been oven-dried and they are served with coffee. Biltong are strips of dried meat which is traditionally, beef or venison and more recently, elephant and ostrich. Biltong is seasoned with salt, pepper, and spices prior to drying.

Interested in learning more about the Afrikaner culture up close and personal? Then book a free concierge session with us to learn more about it from a local perspective! Also, you can get a virtual experience from a local and who knows, they might be an Afrikaner themselves!


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