Tell us about your culture - sample

Susan Ramsay
Susan Ramsay |

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Here are some guidelines for this summer's culture column. It is just an example. You are free to present your article the way you want. But if you think this structure might work for you, go ahead and use it.

Read more about this summer culture column here

I’m a South African. My ancestors came to Africa from Britain. Fill in at least five of the following sections.


In my culture, religion is not very important. In the past it was based on protestant Christian religion. In fact that is why many people came to my country in the first place – to get away from trouble with the Catholic church. But I went to a Catholic school.

Food (and national dish)

My people were pioneers so much of our national food is stuff that can keep for a long time. One thing that all South Africans eat is called biltong. This is meat that has been salted and dried. It can be made from any sort of red meat or ostrich. Another kind of food is the famous boerewors. Strangely you can buy it from a butchery in Sai Kung. Wors means sausage, and boere means farmer. So this was your farmers’ sausage. Very tasty.


Whites began to colonise Africa when they went looking for a sea route to the east. The first to arrive were the Dutch. They had a settlement on the very tip of Africa to replenish their ships with fresh meat and vegetables. Others settled along the coast.

The British – my ancestors, settled in what is known today as Kwa-Zulu Natal. Kwa means 'home of' as it was the home of the Zulu nation. Natal got its name because it was seen on Christmas day by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1497. All went well until some people in Cape Town became angry at the government and started a large-scale migration inland. These people were known as the Voortrekkers. It is from them we get the word 'trek', meaning a long, hard journey. So yes, we even had an influence on Star trek.

Famous person

The most famous South African has to be Nelson Mandela. But to be honest I can’t claim him as being part of my culture. That’s because of something called Apartheid. When I was growing up, South Africa was ruled by the minority whites. We didn’t mix much with the majority blacks, and our cultures are very different. So I guess one hero that stands out – apart from all of our famous sportsmen – would be Christiaan Barnard, the first man to perform a heart transplant.

'Special place'

The most well-known place in South Africa has to be Table Mountain. This is the mountain that watches over the beautiful city of Cape Town and was a welcome sight for sailors after their long voyages from Europe or the east. South Africa has beautiful landscapes, so it is difficult to pick just one spot.


Rugby is the most prominent sport among my people. It was brought to the country with the Europeans and has been deeply entrenched ever since. Although, the most popular sport in the country is soccer.

Defining characteristic

I think in English it’s called the 'can do' attitude. But for South Africans the term ’n boer maak a plan has a much more focused meaning. Literally translated it means 'a farmer makes a plan'. Generally, though, it means that South Africans think outside the box. If they want something, they will do what is needed to get it, even if it means not following the established route. I think it’s part of what made my ancestors pioneers in the first place.