Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The ethnic groups and languages in South Africa

The Zulu (Zulu: amaZulu) are the largest South African ethnic group of an estimated 10–11 million people who live mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Small numbers also live in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique. Their language, Zulu, is a Bantu language; more specifically, part of the Nguni subgroup.

The Zulu Kingdom played a major role in South Africa history during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Under apartheid, Zulu people were classed as third-class citizens and suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination. They remain today the most numerous ethnic group in South Africa, and now have equal rights along with all other citizens.

The linguists usually count around 7,000 languages, and several thousands dialects can also be added. The table below (which shows about 800 main languages) is only a glimpse of the huge diversity of languages.

The Niger-Congo and the Bantu groups are part of a larger one called the Niger-Kordofonian family, which most spoken (in number of people) languages are:

Swahili - 30 MM (Tanzania, Kenia, Uganda, Congo D.R., Rwanda and Burundi)
Yoruba and Igbo - 20 MM each (Nigeria and Benin)
Kinyarwanda-Kirundi - 15 MM (Ruanda and Burundi)
Fula - 13 MM (Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Easthern Nigeria and Cameroon)
Bambara - 12 MM (Mali and Ivory Coast)
Zulu - 11 MM (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique)
Shona - 10 MM (Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique)

South Africa is known for a diversity in cultures and languages. Eleven official languages are recognised in the constitution. Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans, a language which originated mainly from Dutch that is spoken by the majority of white and Coloured South Africans, and South African English. Though English has a large role in public and commercial life, it is nevertheless only the fifth most-spoken home language.

The 11 official languages of South Africa:

English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, Northern Shoto, Southern Shoto and Southern Ndebele.


You're probably wondering how I discovered those words in Zulu. Is not that complicate, there are several sites on the Internet where you can find Zulu-English-Zulu translators.
Unfortunately I still did not find a site where I can get a Portuguese-Zulu translation directly - if you know some, please let me know and I'll add it to the links at the sidebars.
Hope that this information helps those who will be traveling soon to these unknown places.

Oh, I forgot...

I forgot to explain the meaning of the weird expression on the title of my last post...
Ngiyakwemukela means "Welcome" on the Zulu language, the most common dialet used by the black population of South Africa...
Once in a while I will introduce some words in this language, to start keeping us on the mood of the event and the scene...
Ngiyabonga to all of you!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Only a few days to start another dream journey to this new World Cup... 4 years after 3 weeks of unbelievable fun in Germany, South Africa is now the destination...
The team is almost the same, with an important loss - Felipe will not be joining us this time due to his new job at Mellon Brazil... He will be deeply missed, mainly during our long car trips when his enthusiasm embraced all of us, as you can see on the image below...

New place, new team, new hopes...
You will be able to follow us here, starting today... Depending of course on the internet availability there, my plan is to update daily... if you want to check the last World Cup blog (in Portuguese), go to
This time I plan to have 2 similar versions (probably not exactly the same...), one in each language, so my friends from Europe, USA and everywhere would be connected to us and able to share at least virtually some of our experiences...
See you then...