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The South African nation is made up of people whose ancestors have lived here for thousands of years as well as of people whose ancestors travelled from the other side of the world to create a new future for themselves. Our society is a dynamic blend of age-old customs and modern ways and our identity is the result of a mix of cultures, the crosspollination of ideas, words, customs, art forms as well as of culinary and religious practices.
To incorporate the spirit of reconciliation and mutual respect which characterizes the South African society, the country recognizes eleven official languages. They are, in alphabetical order: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
South Africa is home to the most diverse groups imaginable. City dwellers live their fastpaced Western lifestyle in a world that modern technology has created, and some rural tribe members choose to live very much as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. A large number of the approximately 10 million urban Africans are second and third generation town and city dwellers and hundreds of thousands are migrant workers. As a result, the different cultures have fused together in the cities and a distinctive subculture has developed that includes the traditional and the new.
People of mixed origin
A unique grouping of people of mixed origin constitutes more than 3 million, or approximately 8,7% of the total population of South Africa. This group of people, with their own unique culture and customs and speaking mainly a unique dialect of Afrikaans, resides principally in the Western Cape. This group is sometimes called the Coloured people. Within this group there are more specific cultural groupings such as the Malays and the Griquas.
The Griquas moved away from the Cape of Good Hope at the beginning of the 19th Century and settled in the present Griqualand West. Some, however, moved further east and settled in the Free State Province, Griqualand East in the Eastern Cape Province as well as in other parts of the Western Cape Province.
In 1862, Adam Kok, the local Griqua leader, and his people undertook one of the most harrowing and difficult mountain journeys in the history of South Africa. He led his people through rugged country and over the awesome Drakensberg Mountain Range to their "promised land", an area that would later become known as the independent state of Griqualand East. Here they built their capital city, Kokstad, a reminder to this day of their leader Adam Kok and his endeavours. The Griquas developed a culture of their own and a characteristic language that is a form of Dutch-Afrikaans with its own rich and peculiar forms of expression. They are well known for their prowess as choir singers, their love of sacred songs and their Christian faith.