0230 GMT August 18, 2022
South Africa, is that the name of your country? This is a question I have been asked before by people who were not sure if this was the real name of the country. My answer often surprises them. “Yeah, it’s a country with no name except for its geographic location.” For a lot of people, South Africa is seen as a geographic description of where the country is rather than a name of the country. So very true!
South Africa is a country borne out of political struggles of the few for the few and many for the majority. It is a country that has a very rich history and painful past. The few were the British colonialists who united four of their colonies and named/made them one country, the Union of South Africa, which was better known as Republic of South Africa. This name has stuck like glue ever since.
This new apartheid country had three capitals. A reflection of its colonial past: Cape Town, where Parliament still sits, was seen as a parliamentary capital; Bloemfontein, in the Free State, was where the highest court in the land was geographically located, and Pretoria, which was made the administrative capital. This residue or legacy of the apartheid administrative structure is still there, but with less emphasis on three capitals in one country. Pretoria is the capital of South Africa.
The painful part was a result of the racial segregation practiced, first by the English and legitimatized by the Boers after winning the election in 1948. This group of South Africans, commonly known as the Boers or Afrikaners, then introduced what is known as apartheid which sought to racially divide the country into races and tribes, and racially abused the races they didn’t like. This is no different from what the Palestinians are going through in their own land, abused and discriminated against by Israelis. The Afrikaners repressed and oppressed all the other black races and sawed division among them so that they could not collectively rise against white domination. As we now know, this strategy dismally failed.
For South Africa, the apartheid system and the oppression inflicted and suffered by the majority was terminated with the help of the international community and the gallant struggle fought by the liberation forces, the African National Congress (ANC), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) who were exiled but had successfully mobilized and politicized the population to make the country ungovernable.
Leading from the front was Nelson Mandela who became the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa in 1994. The election of former president Mandela was a huge triumph of the African National Congress (ANC). It ushered in a new democratic dispensation. Mandela chose to form a Government of National Unity (GNU) which comprised the National Party, which was the previous ruling white government of former president FW de Klerk.
One of the major milestones was the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission led by Bishop Desmond Tutu whose primary objective was to hear all the wrongs and atrocities committed during the apartheid government. This involved, amongst many other things, the illegal detentions, and killings of political activists. It also called for a national reconciliation between and among the previous warring groups and reconciliations between black and white South Africans. This was the genesis of the birth of a Rainbow Nation, which Nelson Mandela fervently espoused.
The rebirth of South Africa, as a democratic state, has seen the country rise from the ashes to be a successful democracy. Since its liberation from apartheid, South Africa developed a very progressive democratic Constitution that protects human rights and all freedoms as defined in the Constitution. The South African Constitution is universally seen as one of the best.
South Africa is a country with unimaginable natural beauty and bustling metropolises. It is marked by “distinct ecosystems.” The country has a stunning landscape, a wide range of game parks spread throughout the country, awe-inspiring mountain ranges, and a wide diversity of plants. With a coastline of close to 4,000 kilometers, South Africa has stunning beaches that have a plethora of activities and events for group tourists and individual visitors; as well as the not too often mentioned whales, great white sharks and penguins.
For nature and animal lovers, one of the very famous game parks is Kruger National Park. This large game park is situated in the eastern part of the country in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. It also offers a discerning visitor a wide range of things to see, from the Big Five: Lions, African bush elephants, black rhinoceroses, cheetah, and the African buffalo, locally referred to as a wildebeest.
South Africa is said to be one of the most breathtaking places on earth. The beauty of the country is not just packed in one spot. It is spread-out throughout all nine provinces, and it is as diverse as the natural resources and its population. For example, in the Western Cape you will see the famous Table Mountain, in Cape Town. As you travel deeper into this province you will be stunned by the Cape Point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. For wine lovers there are vineyards to sample the various wines of the Western Cape Province. In the Eastern Cape, you will find unbelievable beauty that is exemplified by the Garden Route that stretches for over 200km along the province’s coastline.
For example, in the Northern Cape, you will find the Kimberley diamond mines, one of the oldest diamond mines in the world. In the Northwest there’s the mouthwatering beauty of Sun City, home to the world’s platinum mines. There’s the Zulu Kingdom in Kwa-Zulu Natal where “the earth and ocean meet,” blessed with the towering green Drakensberg Mountain range and the warm Indian Ocean. This is where you will find the city of Durban and battlefields of the 19th century between the indomitable Zulu nation and the colonialist British. It is difficult to sum up the beauty of the country in as short an article as this. Suffice it to say that all provinces, from Kwa-Zulu Natal to Limpopo and from the Northern Cape to the Northwest provinces, it is not difficult to find something that tickles your fancy.
Yes, this is South Africa! Land of unmatched beauty where the Creator seems to have spent six of the seven days of the week creating unbelievable, mesmerizing and startlingly beautiful landscapes and indigenous plants/vegetation.