LOCATION: Republic of South Africa

POPULATION: About 3.3 million

LANGUAGE: Afrikaans

RELIGION: Protestantism


South Africa is located at the southern point of Africa. During the seventeenth century, Dutch colonists from the Netherlands (known as Boers) settled there. Over the next 200 years, British, French, and German settlers joined them. At first, they settled along the coast, but eventually settlers moved inland. These settlers developed a unique cultural identity and language and became known as Afrikaners. Their language, Afrikaans, began as a spoken dialect, but developed into a written language, too.

Over the next 300 years, the Afrikaners battled indigenous (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. (The Republic of South Africa was established fifty years later on May 31, 1960.) In 1910, there was a clear division between the Afrikaners (who belonged to Afrikaner political parties, spoke Afrikaans, supported Afrikaner cultural and linguistic endeavors, and belonged to one of the Dutch Reformed Churches) and British-oriented, English-speaking South Africans. In 1948 the Afrikaner-based National Party came to power. Under a strong religious philosophy and racist social policy, the National Party started to implement the system of apartheid. Apartheid separated the people of South Africa by law along color lines. By the 1980s, there were many Afrikaners who joined the effort to do away with apartheid.


The Afrikaners are concentrated in the Republic of South Africa, located at the southern tip of the African continent. The country consists of four plateaus: the coastal zone, averaging 500 feet (150 meters) above sea level; the Little Karoo, averaging 1,500 feet (450 meters) above sea level; the Great Karoo, averaging 2,500 feet (760 meters) above sea level; and the High Veld, which averages 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level and rises to 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) above sea level in the northeast. South Aftrica's capital, Johannesburg, has an annual mean temperature of 60° F (15.6° C). This temperature range is typical for the entire country. Rainfall (which is so critical for farming and ranching) decreases as one moves from east to west. South Africa's eastern coastal zone has relatively high rainfall, but the western veld (open grassland) tapers into the Kalahari desert. About 75 percent of the country receives less than 25 inches (63.5 centimeters) of rain per year. The country's average rainfall is only 17.5 inches (44.5 centimeters) because so much of the country is extremely dry. The highest rainfall is in the mountain region of the southern region—about 200 inches (508 centimeters) per year.

Of South Africa's 42 million people, about 3.3 million are Afrikaners.


Afrikaans, the language spoken by Afrikaners, evolved as a dialect of Dutch spoken by settlers on the frontier during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As various groups—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 southeast Asia (especially Malaysians). Settlers also took vocabulary and cultural practices from the native Africa people. Afrikaans first appeared in print during the early nineteenth century. Among the unique features of the language is the double negative: Hy wil nie speel nie (literally, "He does not want to play not").

In 1910, the Constitution of the Union of South Africa recognized Afrikaans and English as official languages. Since then, most Afrikaners have been bilingual. In 1991, when apartheid was eliminated, eleven official languages were recognized.

There are also some 13,000 persons of Asian descent in South Africa who speak Afrikaans as their native language.


Early Afrikaner beliefs and traditions come from three major sources: European colonists, native people, and immigrants from Malaysia and India. Heroes and myths from these groups became intertwined as stories were passed down orally.

Much folklore revolved around Oom (Uncle) Paul Kruger (1925–1904, the former president of the Afrikaner republic).


Afrikaner religion comes from Protestant practices of the seventeenth-century Reformed Church of Holland. The British brought English-speaking ministers to South Africa in the early 1800s. Next, French settlers brought the ideas of Swiss reformer John Calvin (1509–1564) to South Africa. Calvin believed the church should influence government policy, and that races should remain pure and separate. This led to the development of a unique brand of Protestantism in South Africa. Government policies on apartheid (separation of the races) were supported by Afrikaners' religious doctrines.


Religious holidays include Christmas (December 25), Good Friday (and the secular Easter Monday, in March or April), and Ascension Day (in April or May). Secular (nonreligious) holidays include New Year's Day and Boxing Day (also known as Goodwill Day, December 26). Political holidays include Founder's Day commemorating the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck (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 (1825–1904, former president) on October 10; and the Day of the Vow, commemorating the day when Afrikaners resisted an attack by Zulu warriors on December 16, 1838.

Traditionally, Afrikaners observed Sunday as a day of rest. Stores and movie theaters were closed, organized sports were not permitted, and very little activity took place. People were expected to attend church services. By the late 1990s, this had changed somewhat, although there is still less activity on Sunday than on other days of the week.


It is the custom for Afrikaner married couples to name their first son after the husband's father and their first daughter after the wife's mother.

Birthdays are celebrated with a party accompanied by the giving of gifts. Almost all infants are baptized. Afrikaner children attend Sunday school where they are required to memorize verses from the Bible. At about age sixteen, young people must take catechism, where they learn the basis of Calvinistic Protestantism. Upon completion of catechism, the young person is confirmed as a church member and takes his or her first communion. In many families, sixteen is also the age when the young person is allowed to begin dating. The twenty-first birthday is a major celebration. The family often presents the son or daughter at age twenty-one with a key that symbolizes adulthood.

Adults celebrate birthdays, frequently with a braai— the equivalent of the American barbecue. Death is marked at the family level by mourning and the wearing of black dresses by women, and black ties or a black arm band by men. At church services on New Year's Eve, the front pew is draped in black or purple to remember those who have died during the year, and their names are read aloud.


It is customary to greet each person, including children, with a handshake. Friends and relatives of both genders greet each other with a kiss on the lips. (This practice does not generally apply to males greeting males.) Taking leave involves the same actions and the expression, Totsiens (Till we see [each other] again). In the past, Afrikaners practiced informal gender separation. After a meal, men would visit with each other, smoking and discussing such topics as national affairs or sports. Women talked about homemaking and the children. By the late 1990s, opportunities for women in education and employment had improved, and this practice of separate social conversation had declined.


When Afrikaners controlled the government, most white people lived in luxury, with the best housing (many with swimming pools), schools, and hospitals available to them. Afrikaners controlled the best civil service and other jobs, earned dependable salaries, owned automobiles, and had electricity and telephones in their homes. After apartheid (separation of the races) ended in 1991, this lifestyle was legally available to everyone, regardless of race.


In rural communities, Afrikaner families were large because children represented wealth. Some Afrikaner politicians advocated a policy of large families to assure the position of whites in South Africa. Today Afrikaner families average two or three children. Dogs and cats are favored as pets. Dogs are also bred to protect home and property.

Traditional Afrikaner dating and marriage practices involved a young man courting his girlfriend, and then formally requesting permission from her parents (especially her father) to become engaged. For three Sundays prior to the wedding, the couples' names were read in church. If there were no objections raised (for example, that one was already married to someone else), the marriage was performed in church, with a reception afterward. This practice had become less formal by the 1990s.


Afrikaners dress in modern Western clothing. On holidays and special occasions, traditional clothing may be seen. Boys and men wear shorts with knee socks. Women wear long dresses and bonnets for formal folk dancing called volkspele . Male folk dancing partners wear shirts with vests and long pants.

12 • FOOD

The everyday meal of the Afrikaner is characterized by an emphasis on meat, starch, and cooked vegetables. Green or fresh salads are rare. Breakfast features some kind of porridge. Away from the coast, Afrikaners learned from the native peoples to make a gruel 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 (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 (skewered marinated meat similar to shish kebab) is frequently included in a braai . A recipe for bobotie , another favorite dish accompanies this article. Fish has become popular for those living near the ocean. Two foods from pioneer days are still popular among Afrikaners: beskuit and biltong . Beskuit (rusks) are biscuits that have been oven-dried. They are served with coffee. Biltong are strips of dried meat (traditionally, beef or venison; more recently, elephant and ostrich). The biltong are treated with salt, pepper, and spices prior to drying.


Children are required to attend school from age six through age sixteen. Each school has its own colors, and girls and boys wear blazers that display the crest of the school. For girls, the uniform is dress or skirt in the color with a white or matching blouse. Boys wear the same color shirt and pants. During most of the year, boys wear shorts with knee socks. Among Afrikaners, almost everyone attends school and is literate (can read and write). Most Afrikaner students who have completed high school (by passing the national examination) continue their education. They go to a university or to a "technicon," an institute that offers technical training.




  • 2 slices of white bread, torn into pieces
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 tart apple, peeled and chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons golden raisins
  • 3 Tablespoons slivered, blanched almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons curry powder
  • 1½ pounds ground lamb
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 egg yolks


  1. Place ground lamb in a frying pan. Cook over medium heat until browned, stirring frequently.
  2. Combine bread and milk; set aside.
  3. Add onions to the lamb and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add apples and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Remove bread pieces from milk and add to frying pan. (Save the milk for use in step 7.) Add lemon juice, raisins, almonds, and curry powder.
  5. Preheat oven to 325° F . Transfer lamb mixture to a baking dish.
  6. Insert bay leaves into mixture, and pat the mixture down in the center. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven but do not turn oven off.
  7. Beat eggs yolks and milk (from step 4) together. Pour milk mixture slowly over meat mixture in casserole. Return to oven and bake 25 minutes more.

Adapted from Hillman, Howard. Great Peasant Dishes of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.


Much of Afrikaners' heritage is derived from European cultural traditions. The performing arts all follow the western European model. Some South African themes have been depicted, especially in visual arts.


Most Afrikaners are employed in fields ranging from civil service and education to mining, industry, and business. Afrikaners are the majority of whites in rural areas. Afrikaners believe in hard, industrious work, and their religion reinforces that value. Children are raised with statements such as "Idleness is Satan's pillow," implying that idleness is where temptation to get into trouble can be found.


Television was not permitted in South Africa until the 1960s, so the emphasis was on participating in, rather than watching, sports. Afrikaner children play organized sports starting at an young age. Boys play rugby, cricket, or athletics (track and field). Girls play netball (basketball), field hockey, and also participate in athletics. It is common to see a group of boys on an open field with a tennis or rubber ball playing informal cricket or tossing a ball in a variation of touch football. Girls are more likely to participate only in school or club sports.

Older adults engage in jukskei, a competition from pioneer days. Carved pieces of wood, resembling the yoke pin used on draft animals, are tossed in an attempt to knock over a stake. This resembles the American game of horseshoes.


In the past, Afrikaner young people entertained themselves in folk dances, church-sponsored youth activities, and the bioscope (movies). By the 1990s, it was common for a group of young people to rent videos, gather at a bar or a dance, or go to a disco. It had also become acceptable to socialize with English-speaking persons and members of other ethnic groups.


There has been a clear division of labor based on gender among Afrikaners that carries over to the present. Women are known for quilting, crocheting, and knitting. A beautiful doily with a circle of shells or beads covers every jug of milk. Men are known for woodworking, delicate leather-working, and the making of chairs with seats of interwoven strips of leather.


After the end of apartheid in 1991, Afrikaners still bore a heavy burden for the actions of their ancestors who developed the philosophy that led to apartheid. Not all Afrikaners agreed with the apartheid policy of their government and not all Afrikaners were racist. Yet, Afrikaners bear the stereotype or label. Their challenge in the late 1990s is to find a role for themselves in the new South Africa, known as the Rainbow Nation.


De Klerk, W. A. The Puritans in Africa: A Story of Afrikanerdom. London, England: R. Collins, 1975.

Drury, Allen. A Very Strange Society: A Journey to the Heart of South Africa. New York: Trident, 1967.

Hillman, Howard. Great Peasant Dishes of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.


Embassy of South Africa, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available , 1998.

Government of South Africa. [Online] , 1998.

Interknowledge Corp. South Africa. [Online] Available , 1998.

Southern African Development Community. South Africa. [Online] Available , 1998.

User Contributions:

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thank you so very much for this site. i has also been searching around the internet for what seemed like a billion hours for this very information on afrikaners culture. :D
Hay. been looking for this info everywhere thanks so much!!! 4 grade 11 tourism project hehe!!!!! thanks agen
Aaah, thank you, this is exactly what I needed for my Modern history apartheid assignment.
thanks so much. i had to take notes for a lesson i have to teach with a partner on afrikaners.
Wow what a wonderful site. Grade 11 Tourism, and I've been struggling since last week.
Great site, everything I need for Grade 11 Tourism.
I love this wesite it really improved my look on the Afrikaaners tradition. This will be the key component to my sucess in my project! I can't wait to share this website with all my friends!!!!!!!!
I loved this website.I got so much info about afrikaners. It really helped with my research i will deffently tell my friends about it
Ek's self 'n Afrikaner, en waardeer so 'n artikel wat 'n ware, gebalanseerde portret van ons nasie gee. Dankie aan die skrywer.

For those of you who don't speak Die Taal: I'm an Afrikaner myself, and I appreciate an accurate, balanced portrait of our nation. Thank you to the writer!
This site has saved my life.. I'm currently working on a research assignment on the Afrikaans culture and i can't believe my luck on this site! it has everything according to the specifications!
Just a small correction, the capital of Soutgh Africa is Pretoria (also called Tshwane) not Johannesburg, which is rather known for being the largest city in South Africa.
Chris (from South Africa)
Thanks so much to whoever created this site. Without it i could never have finished my assignment on their culture, food and origin. By the way, a big HI to everyone across the globe. Looking forward to seeing you guys in America soon. See you
Thank you thank you thankyou! I've been looking for this kind of information for my history heritage project for ever! sooo gald i found this site!
Thanks a lot. i love this site. A huge thank you to the person that created this site. I found everything i needed for my grade 9 project. Nowhere else could i found this info. Great site.
I became so interested in the history and culture of South Africa after seeing the movie "Invictus".
I had to find out more about the people. I love this site. Thank you
hi all, im currently doing a reality show for the sabc about the different cultures in sa, if any one of oyu would like to find out more please email me at, thank you for this site, really helped with some research ... Much love...

Lusanda M
Is there no history with this topic??? I would have loved to see some. especially since I am working on a project requiring that.
This site REALLY helped me to understand and learn more about my own culture. Thank you, it was difficult to find a site that really knows what they are talking about. Often sites concentrate on the apartheid and consider that the afrikaners' culture. Thank you for being different.
This is AWESOME!! This page was so interesting... THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH :) God Bless Everyone!!
amazing im loveing the rugby. thank u guys 100% boer
Afrikaners are really nice people today, very social. Afrikaans (their language) is the most beautiful language, it is really easy to learn and I can now speak it fluently!!
wow this site has all the info i need for grd 9 L.O project...has helped me so much probly gonna get high marks =)
Im getting married to an Afrikaaner and would like to include some of his traditions. Are there any specefic wedding traditions that I can incorprate?
Great Site.
1 problem tho its not boers its boer(1 person) or boere( multiple persons)
Being an Afrikaaner, this description looks a bit like the lifestyle of my great-great grandfather. For heavens sake, we even have internet in this country.
I was also impressed on how accurately an outsider would descride the Afrikaner and THANK YOU for not empasizing and exaggerating on our "rasist natures"..! Also, some truths I am finding funny too but be aware that knee-high socks and safari-suites are really outdated hehe and many of us had never even been on a farm and we cannot make doilies anymore lol! That, an although apartheid might have isolated us a bit in the past, our generation (from 30 to under) was never lacking anything available to our counterparts in first-world countries ;)
this site is great,bt it would be better if it was translated in afrikaans to.
Exactly what I was looking for!! Thanks :D Will definitely be coming here again to look for more information. This page clearly shows what is needed to know about Afrikaners :)Well Done!
Thanks alot hey, I really needed this for my little sister`s assignment, she is in grade 6.
My father-in-law works out in the dorps and on farms and he says it's perfectly normal there to see Afrikaners sitting on the side of the road together with black people, eating pap and vleis, laughing, and talking together as the best of friends.
Living abroad for the past 10 years i am finding that i have a deeper passion for my culture than i thought i had when i left SA. Now i see Afrikaner culture shrinking more and more, locally and abroad as we integrate. Our heritage is important, i know that now. Other minority communities (As we are) understand the importance of preserving the values of their cultures by helping one another no matter where they are. The Jews do it, and just about every other culture take care of their own. Our unique culture must survive, its about time that we too unite and be proud of who we are, no matter where we are.
this site helped me lots I found the info that I was looking for.. thank you very much... love you lots for helping so now I am sure that I will get 100% for it even though I pass everything but thanks...
I am doing a report and my friend said the site and it helped me
Love this site so much working on a project my friend is an Afrikaner so i decided to use this site when i could not get in touch
So, I'm an Afrikaner and I would like to add some much needed info. Temperatures in Johannesburg, where I live, vary from -2 to 40 C's, all depending on the season. 15 is summer morning or winter's afternoon. Aso for folklore, we have countless afrikaans writers with stories of the years before and during Apartheid and oom paul kruger is not really a thing anymore. We also have youth-day and herritage day as holidays, Founders day and Paul Kruger does not feature. Most Afrikaners DID NOT LIVE IN LUXURY.
as i was saying, we did not live in luxury, countless afrikaners were farmers, miners ect, and were barely scraping by even though Apartheid granted them access to nice places, not all could afford to go. we attend school from age 6 to 18. we are legal adults from that age and are then allowed to get a driver's licence and we can buy cigarettes and alcohol/gamble. 21 is just a traditional thing now. and most of us cannot study a higher education because of financial reasons. i am lucky to be able to study because of good grades and my parents can afford it with my bursary. we dont ever wear those bonnets and volkspele stuff.. ever. Netball and basketball is NOT THE SAME THING. and our culteral traditions are purely our own. we are influenced by european/western culture, but we have our own artists/writers/musicians. We dont need to sponge off the world. Our social problems have not ended and probably wont end in my lifetime, but we try break free from stereotypes. PS: I have 2 siblings and none of us are named after relatives. This piece has some of the stuff right but is very outdated. it makes it appear that we did nothing great before the 1990's. gender seperation before 1990's? Stop making me laugh... try toning that back to the 60's or 70's.. only people above the age of 50 have experienced that.. when their parents did it.
Marisna Burger
I am also an Afrikaaner and first of all thank you for this page, as most other afrikaaners have stated it is nice to see info about our culture in truth instead of the stereotype. But I also agree that this piece is a little outdated and with everything Elbi said. I am willing to give you any additional info you need to update this, there are also many gaps that can be filled. Examples of this are... Afrikaaners live in the surrounding countries as well. Pap and braaivlies are also worth mentioning as they are just as traditional as bobotie. Most afrikaaner households braai every weekend either on the friday or the saturday for recreation and most prefer to braai instead of going to discos and rent videos. The social problems are far from over as we are still paying for the crimes of our past. Gender separation has been GONE for more than 5 generations now, while the woman still typically leave their job to raise the kids and the men are still seen as the bread winner. Both have equal say in the household. Most woman also include baking as a hobbie. I agree with Elbi that the "lived in luxury" part should be removed or corrected as this is just as much a stereotype as our racist nature. In actual fact most families were just getting by. Most if their luxuries like furnishings, pools, big houses, etc were build with their own hands. And as Elbi stated only a select few could afford to go the the best schools and hospitals. The majority had to settle for bos skool (small private schools established by the community) and only went to hospital if you were at deaths door, if not the wife or mother would treat you.
Ben Schutte
Hello from another boer. Thanks to Elbi and Marisna for the corrections. Especially the socio economic picture you paint. Pap is probably one of the cheapest meals you can get here and that's why we all love it. Pap and milk would of been considered a luxury back in the day :-) Thanks anyhow. It's nice to read about my people.
Wow i ve been searching to know you guys of who you are realy, thanks to the creater of this site, i feel warmth in my heart to get a bit of you as Afrikaaner, Boer and English people. I feel much love for all of you my language is isiZulu i ve got friends of different race so thank thank you.
Thank you for writing a neutral piece on Afrikaner culture. Even Wikipedia states information that makes it seem as though we are cruel, hateful people. I assure you that we are not all like that. I would just like to add the following information: There are cultural differences even within the Afrikaner "culture". For example: In Pretoria, some Afrikaans people view Afrikaners from Cape Town as "softies", "liberals" and sometimes even as traitors. Cape Afrikaners are often a lot more fluent in English, are educated in English and don't mind that Afrikaans disappears ftom schools, churches or even the National Anthem (ex. Max du Preez). There is also a difference between those Afrikaners who live in rural areas and those who live in the cities, the latter group often being called "stadsjapies" (city folk) and the former often being a lot more traditional. Afrikaners are also very individualistic people today. This makes it very difficult to assign only one culture to the group.
thank you so much it really helped out of all the websites I had to go and search on about the Afrikaans culture
There's only a few questions I want to ask ..
Who was the first boere?
what did they live in?
What did they plant and what did they do to the harvest?
Let me first correct an opinion which was stated as fact in this comments section; Johan, since when are Afrikaners from Cape Town educated in english? I am an afrikaner from Cape Town, and every single afrikaner I know was in an afrikaans or an afrikaans/english school (afrikaans classes for afrikaans speaking people and english classes for english speaking people). Only the colleges and universities are english-only, except for Stellenbosch university. No-one that I know would want afrikaans to be removed from schools, churches or even the national anthem (and yes, we would mind if that happens).
There is also a big mistake in the article itself. It mentions Johannesburg as South Africa's capital. That is incorrect. South Africa has 3 capital cities - Pretoria, which is the administrative capital, Bloemfontein, which is the judicial capital, and Cape Town, which is the legislative capital.
Hey, I just want to ask what is the clothes that Afrikaners wear? Please answer ASAP
Thanks again
I am an Afikaner, and there are so many mistakesnin this, I don't know where to begin.
ok i dont know anything about Afrikaners because im african, but growing up all i was told was that afrikaans people are bad people because of the apartheid stuff. so i grew up having that hatred of Afrikaans people but i swear after reading this article and after doing a little bit more research about the Afrikaners my mindset about Afrikaans people has now changed i love you guys we`ve forgiven you about all the past we are all one now.
The population according to the (Represented Nations of People) of the UN stipulated the Afrikaans european ethnic group is 3 million in total out of 56 million non-Afrikaans people in South Africa. Also not all given information on culture is 100% accurate since the modernization and globalisation aspects influenced the newer generation of Afrikaner people as a whole.
wow really helped with my school project love this website

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