The Sotho people are from Lesotho – a land-locked country in the centre of South Africa. They dress in brightly coloured blankets all year round ‑ even in the heat of summer!
The men’s hats are an enormous source of pride. The conical shape represents the mountain stronghold of the first Basotho King Moshoeshoe.
The Venda people come from the North Eastern corner of South Africa – home to many great baobab trees and known as Land of a Hundred Streams.
The initiation phase of Venda girls includes dancing and singing together most often accompanied by drumming – with the drum a central part of Venda religious belief.
The Swazi tribe comes from Swaziland – an independent state in the South-Eastern part of South Africa.
They live in beehive shaped huts and when married the women often wear their hair in the same beehive shape which symbolises fertility.
The Tswana are from the Gauteng and North West Provinces. They believe in a supreme God Modimoi who is reached through ancestor worship, using witch doctors as mediators.
Their cultural song and dance are highly developed, with lyrics often a social commentary of the past and present. They are also skilled at making intricate metal and leather works as well as
The Shangaan live between the Kruger National Park and the Drakensberg mountains in round huts with distinctively patterned thatched roofs – a specialised skill.
From their close association with the elephants around them they believe if a person dreams of elephants in a good mood it is a sign of good luck.
The Zulu tribe comes from the Kwa-Zulu Natal area.
The women wear woven hats which rise up to form flat disks and which are beaded around the edges.
The women are renowned for their beading and the combinations have meaning. One very famous pattern is the ‘Zulu Love Letter’.
The Herero tribe comes from independent Namibia in the North West.They are proud cattle farmers measuring their wealth thereby, symbolized by the women wearing cow horn shaped head coverings.
In a clash of cultures, the women also wear a traditional garment derived from a Victorian woman’s dress of an enormous crinoline worn over several petticoats
The Ndebele tribe comes from the Mpumalanga province in the North East of South Africa.
They have long been known as the artists of South Africa because of their use of colours and patterns. Their dress and way in which the married women paint their homes and surrounding walls (together a ‘kraal’) in bright geometric patterns carries symbolic meaning.
The Xhosa (Kaw-Sah) are from the Eastern and Western Cape and speak a language with 3 types of click sounds.
The most famous Xhosa is Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first democratically elected President of South Africa.
Beading on dresses and designs sewn on capes and headware is used to indicate status.