N|uu is one of South Africa’s oldest languages, and it is on the verge of extinction. But Katrina Esau is on a mission to preserve the endangered culture and language of the San People: an indigenous tribe that occupied the Northern Cape Province and is known as the first hunter-gatherers in the region.
The language is believed to have 112 distinct sounds and its main characteristic is clicks. It’s a language that has been passed down to generations orally. In 2013, UNESCO estimated that there were 7 N|uu speakers left.
Classified as critically endangered by Unesco, N|uu is one of three languages known to feature a “kiss-click” produced with both lips.
Growing up on a white-owned farm on the fringes of the Kalahari Desert in apartheid-era South Africa, Katrina Esau was forbidden by her employer to speak the language she had learnt from her mother. For half a century, the click-rich language N|uu, once spoken by the hunter-gatherers of the Northern Cape, today known as San or “bushmen”, was almost forgotten.
The muting of Esau’s community spread widely across the Afrikaans-speaking Northern Cape province, following centuries of extermination and assimilation of the San. For several decades it was thought that N|uu, like many of southern Africa’s original click languages, was extinct.
But in the late 90s, after the country had transitioned to majority rule, Elsie Vaalbooi, a N|uu speaker, appealed on local radio for other speakers to come forward. It emerged that there were around 20 ageing speakers of the language in the Northern Cape region.
Within a few years, that number had dwindled drastically. Today, there is one known fluent speaker of N|uu – Esau, who is in her late eighties.
After decades of being banned from speaking the language of her forebears, Esau has dedicated the past two decades to teaching N|uu in an effort to preserve the San language and culture. Despite years of silence, she never lost her fluency. “I didn’t learn this language; I sucked it out of my mother’s breast,” she says in Lost Tongue, a film about N|uu made in 2016. “But I buried it at the back of my head.”
In a schoolroom at the front of her home in Upington, Esau teaches local children the original language of her homeland. Africa is the only continent with languages in which clicks are regular consonants. The single pipe after the “N” represents a dental click consonant which is produced with the tip of the tongue against the upper teeth. N|uu, now classified as critically endangered by Unesco, is one of just three languages known to feature a “kiss-click” produced with both lips.
To teach this extraordinarily rich language, Esau – who was never taught to read or write – uses song, play and images. It helps her pupils, aged from three to 19, learn basics such as greetings, body parts, animal names and short sentences.
They are the only students of N|uu in the world, learning a language with 114 distinct sounds, including 45 clicks, 30 non-click consonants and 39 vowels. To place this in context, English, Russian and Chinese have about 50 sounds.
In recent years, Esau’s mission has been assisted by academics Sheena Shah and Matthias Brenzinger. Together with community members, the three established a N|uu orthography – a set of conventions for writing a language – and created educational resources for Esau’s school.
Currently, N|uu is not the only language at risk of dying out in South Africa. Several communities are trying to revive languages such as Nama, which was a Khoisan language spoken by about 250 000 people in parts of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. “When you look at the African languages, you learn that they help communicate different perspectives on life, relationships, spirituality, the earth, health, humanity,” Brezinger told BBC recently.
According to government officials, Esau teaches at a small school located at the front of her house in Rosedale, outside Upington in the Northern Cape.
The work and determination to save the language have not gone unnoticed. Esau was awarded one of South Africa’s highest honors: the Order of the Baobab to honor her efforts to preserve the language and culture.
Keeping its promise to release more African content, Netflix ’s South African series, Jiva , is finally set to debut on the streaming platform. South African culture and society take center stage in Netflix’s ‘Jiva’, a drama series centered on aspiring street dancer Ntombi. Juggling between family obligations, a dead-end job, and a less-than-ideal love life, she realizes that her talents may be her way out of Durban. Ntombi cobbles together her dance crew, The Trollies, with her sights set on winning a lucrative cash prize at the Jiva Loxion dance competition. Of course, there are obstacles and conflicts on the path to success.
Netflix’s ‘Jiva’ might be a derivative of Jaiva or township jive, an African dance form and music subgenre believed to have influenced Western breakdancing. It is closely associated with the development of the rhythmical Zulu music style of Southern Africa, mbaqanga. But it is also affiliated with contemporary trends due to the homogenization of the artform in the US and the UK that makes the dance style seem watered-down and less traditional. Whatever its origin, Jiva speaks to the broad appeal of dance not just in South Africa but globally.
“It will resonate with people because dance is just so much a part of our lives in South Africa and it resonates all over the world,” said showrunner Busisiwe Ntintili in an interview. “We dance at funerals and weddings. We dance when we graduate. At good and bad times, we dance. It is a joyful reminder, especially in these times where we didn’t expect this to happen; it’s a reminder that there is still joy to be had in life.”
The story is a work of fiction but is rooted in real-world issues. The Netflix original is a glimpse into modern African youth culture and but also addresses the challenges and resistance that women worldwide face in pursuit of their ambitions. At its core, this is a story of humanity that many can identify with irrespective of nationality. Ntintili hopes that this common thread will pique interest in more programming from the continent.
“Global audiences are hungry for African content. For a long time, they never saw it. Before we had streaming platforms, you only got to see what was broadcast in your country. People in America and Asia never saw any African content. There is a hunger for seeing how people in the rest of the world live.”
All five episodes of Jiva are streaming now on Netflix.
A legal battle is looming over plans to build Amazon’s multi-million-dollar African headquarters on land cherished by South Africa’s indigenous Khoi San people.
Amazon is setting up its African HQ in Cape Town — a project with the promise of thousands of jobs in a country where unemployment is cripplingly high.
City authorities last month approved the construction of a nine-storey business and residential complex on a greenfield site that will be anchored by Amazon.
Its offices will provide total floor space of 70,000 square metres (7.5 million feet) — equivalent to almost 10 football pitches.
But some of the country’s first inhabitants, the Khoi Khoi and San — whose presence in the southern tip of the continent has been dated by archaeologists to thousands of years — say the project desecrates ancestral land.
They say it lies on a battlefield in which the Khoi defended the territory from Portuguese colonisers in 1510.
“Our heritage will be completely wiped out,” paramount chief Aran Goringhaicona told AFP this week. “There is so much spiritual significance to this place.”
He represents the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoi Indigenous Traditional Council, which is among the indigenous, environmental and community activists contesting the scheme.
Led by a neighbourhood group, the Observatory Civic Association (OCA), they wrote to the developer Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) this week stating their intention to appeal the project in the courts.
Construction of the four-billion-rand ($283 million / 234 million euro) complex is due to start little more than a month from now.
The group is also questioning environmental approvals for the riverside site, said OCA chair Leslie London.
Cape Town is already struggling with episodes of severe floods and drought — a risk that could be amplified when climate change goes into higher gear, London argued.
City authorities say the impact on floods is “minimal” and the site will be built up above the 100-year flood
Amazon, which has been operating in South Africa for 15 years, declined to comment on the development.
Your parents, grandparents, or distant relatives could be your ticket to dual citizenship.
Several countries around the globe will grant citizenship if your parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents were born in said country. Not only will you become a citizen of your family’s native land, but it allows you to have a variety of opportunities such as living, working, voting, and even owning property without the need for a visa.
While a number of countries including France, Australia, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil, South Korea, and the Philippines—require applicants to have at least one parent who was a citizen of the country at the time of the applicant’s birth, others are a bit looser when it comes to demonstrating jus sanguinis, or the right of blood. If you can dig up the birth certificates and other required documentation that proves your family ties are legitimate, and you are willing to pony up the administration fees, you could be looking at dual citizenship between six months to three years, which is still far more expedient than if you were to seek citizenship through naturalization.
If you’ve been looking to acquire dual citizenship, here are five countries that will issue you a secondary passport if you meet their requirements.
Brazil was one of the most frequented destinations during enslavement. Its culture and history are deeply rooted in African and Portuguese ideology.
Requirements: Have at least one parent that is a Brazilian citizen at the time of your birth.
When Ghana declared 2019 the Year of Return, one of the major goals of the program was to inspire members of the African diaspora—specifically Black Americans descended from victims of the transatlantic slave trade—to embark on a birthright journey to their ancestral homeland. The country granted citizenship to more than 100 interested African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans as part of the initiative. Now Ghana is following up its successful Year of Return with a decade-long project called Beyond the Return, aimed at promoting tourism, bettering economic relations between countries, and carving out a clear pathway to citizenship for people of African descent whose parents or grandparents are not Ghanaian. This expands upon the country’s pre-existing Right of Abode law passed in 2000, which allows a person of African descent to apply for the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely. Those with a Ghanaian parent can currently apply for dual citizenship by providing proof of the parent’s nationality through a birth certificate or passport, as well as the names and addresses of two relatives residing in Ghana.
Learn more here.
South Africa extends citizenship opportunities to people born abroad who have at least one parent that was a citizen at the time of their birth. The law also applies to people whose adopted parents are or were South African citizens. South Africa also extends citizenship to children whose parents were in the service of the South African Government, an associated individual or an international organization to which South Africa is a member
Ireland, also known as “The Emerald Isle” for their deep peaks and valleys of greenery, have over 32 million descendants living in the United States.
Irish descendants are mostly found in cities like Boston, New York and New Jersey.
Requirements: Must have at least one parent or grandparent with Irish citizenship.
In Italy, descendants of Italian citizens are often eligible to become citizens themselves — and there is no limit on how many generations ago your ancestors left the country as long as they maintained their own Italian citizenship until they had kids of their own, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy. You can prove this lineage through things like birth and marriage certificates.
Since March, we’ve all watched as the coronavirus forced the closures of nearly every border around the globe. Countries around the world are starting to welcome back tourism by reopening their borders to international travelers. After nearly six months of lockdown, South Africa is one of the latest countries on that list.
‘We are ready to open our doors again to the world,” South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement announcing the decision, “and invite travelers to enjoy our mountains, our beaches, our vibrant cities, and our wildlife game parks in safety and confidence.”
High-risk travellers: are those who come from countries with higher numbers of COVID-19 infections and reported deaths compared to South Africa.
Medium risk travellers: are from countries with relatively equal number of infections and death toll to South Africa
Low risk travellers: obviously originate from countries with lesser number of infections of COVID-19 and death toll than South Africa.
Leisure travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted, amongst them includes the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
“Travellers intending to visit the country will be expected to produce a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. This test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted such test,” said Pandor.
Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Travellers will also need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.
Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10 day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.
However, South Africans are able to travel to any country that currently allows travellers from the country to visit.
Here is the list of high-risk countries:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
- Puerto Rico
- United Emirates
- United Kingdom
Data for the mentioned countries will be reviewed every two weeks, and categories may change based on the data.
All visas that may have expired during the lockdown period remain valid until January 31, 2021.
Three airports will be opened and operational for international air travel. These airports are OR Tambo International (in Johannesburg, Gauteng), Cape Town International (in Cape Town, Western Cape) and King Shaka International ( in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal).
Diversity is what makes South Africa one of the most beautiful countries in the world. With 11 official languages, each culture embraces the essence of what it means to be an African through food, music, dance and fashion..
Heritage Day was originally known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of King Shaka Zulu. In 1996, during an address marking Heritage Day, former President Nelson Mandela said:
“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.”
Heritage Day is celebrated on the 24th of September and it recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of South Africa. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day.
This Heritage Month, we take a look at some of the traditional clothing worn by South Africans.
For Xhosa women, the most common traditional wear is umbhaco. It is a long skirt and apron made from printed or embroidered fabrics. The Xhosa attire includes beaded necklaces, called ithumbu.
Worn by married women as a sign of respect to one’s husband and his family, isicholo is a flared disk-shaped hat. This hat is accompanied by a thick, cowhide skirt which has been softened with animal fat and charcoal, called isidwaba.
Men wear a front apron, known as an isinene, and a rear apron, ibheshu, to cover the genitals and buttocks
This culture is big on colours and beads. Worn by married women, idzila is an accessory placed around the neck, arms, and legs. Their colourful blanket, umbalo, is also for married women. And then there is the signature beaded headband known as amacubi.
The main item of clothing for men is an iporiyana. Decorated with beads, it hangs on the neck. They also wear animal skin called karos to keep warm.
The Vavenda wear munwenda, a multi-coloured striped cloth that comes in two pieces – a top and a bottom. It is paired with beads such as lutomola tsie, mapala, tshithivho vivho, zwifudzi, magidipho, and makunda. They also have musisi, a skirt-like garment made from the munwenda material.
The most iconic clothing item in the Xitsonga culture is xibelani. It is a knee-length skirt typically worn by Xitsonga women. It is made from a bolt of cloth, a fabric called salempur, about 18m long. They also have a top called a yele that they wear with a tightly fitting T-shirt.
The Swati culture is complex as their clothing style varies according to age and gender. Some items are reserved for specific ceremonies, such as the incwala or the umhlanga (reed dance).
However, married women wear skin aprons and skin skirts. They also have another apron they wear under the armpits; after the birth of their first child they put the same apron over one shoulder and style their hair in a bun. Married men wear loin skins.
Tswana women wear an apron called a khiba, with a skirt called a mosese. Men wear a kaross, a blanket made from animal skin, to cover up.
They wear a traditional Basotho dress called the seshoeshoe. However, a statement piece is the Basotho blanket, worn by both men and women over the shoulders.
VISIT HERITAGE SITES IN SOUTH AFRICA
Did you know South Africa is home to nine world heritage sites and many more national heritage sites? A heritage site is categorised as a place with cultural and historical importance. The World Heritage Sites are:
- Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa in Sterkfontein
- Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo
- Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in Northern Cape
- Robben Island in Western Cape
- Cape Floral Region Protected Areas in the Western and Eastern Cape
- iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal
- Vredefort Dome in the Free State
- uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho
- Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains in Mpumalanga
South Africa’s nine World Heritage Sites offer a diversity and abundance of cultural and natural values that encapsulate the value systems of the country.
Heritage Day is a public holiday in South Africa.
As air travel continues to slowly pick up amid the ongoing pandemic, many airlines are completely reimagining their route networks. For United Airlines, that means announcing seven new long-haul routes, including three new destinations in Africa. United says it’s adding international flights where there’s existing demand, especially tapping into traffic from travelers from the African diaspora visiting their friends and families
The new routes include:
Newark, New Jersey—Johannesburg: beginning spring 2021
Washington, D.C.—Accra, Ghana: beginning late spring 2021
Washington, D.C.—Lagos, Nigeria: beginning late spring 2021
Tickets will be available for purchase on united.com and the United app in the coming weeks, the airline says.
“Now is the right time to take a bold step in evolving our global network to help our customers reconnect with friends, family, and colleagues around the world,” Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of international network and alliances, said in a statement.
Throughout the crisis, United has been taking an “opportunistic approach” to expanding its network, driven by demand, says Patrick Quayle.
United highlighted that when its new nonstop Accra service launches, the airline will be the only U.S. carrier offering the nonstop flight from Washington, D.C., home to the second-largest population Ghanaians in the United States, according to United.
In addition to Africa, United is adding nonstop flight routes to Israel, India, and Hawaii.
The new routes include:
Chicago—Tel Aviv, Israel: beginning September 2020
Chicago—New Delhi, India: beginning December 2020
San Francisco—Bangalore, India: beginning spring 2021
Chicago—Kona (Big Island), Hawaii: beginning summer 2021
Newark—Kahului (Maui), Hawaii: beginning summer 2021
Last week, the carrier announced that it would end change fees for all domestic flights in premium and regular economy cabins. On Wednesday, it also expanded that policy to flights to Mexico and the Caribbean.
Johannesburg-based Studio Yezi, an animation studio founded by Thandiwe Mlauli, has announced its first project in development – which will also be South Africa’s first independently produced and women-led afro-animation, with Mlauli acting as producer, director and showrunner. The production, titled SOLA, will comprise a series and accompanying short film
SOLA is an action-adventure, fantasy and coming-of-age series about the adventures of a girl named Sola who experiences her magic awakening in a world where magic is dangerous and deadly
Per the company’s website, “Yezi” is short for “inkanyezi,” which means “star” in isiZulu. The development and animation shop intends “to be a symbol of hope and light, we intend to serve the world with our storytelling.”
As the studio’s founder, Mlauli is already carving out a unique space in the South African animation and entertainment industries that focuses on heart-warming local stories, diverse narratives and character representations, as well as nurturing and developing fresh local talent.
Having graduated with a BFA in Producing for Film & TV from the New York Film Academy, the studio founder spent time in Los Angeles studying the international animation game by attending workshops like the first-of-its-kind Black Women Animate Bootcamp in 2018, and returned to her home country having built a network of like-minded creatives all over the globe.
Studio Yezi – true to Mlauli’s driven and creative nature – has launched an ambitious global fund-raising campaign (#MakeSOLAHappen) to complete production on the SOLA series and shorts. Having already begun the development process thanks to independent funding efforts, Mlauli and her team are giving everyday South Africans and lovers of representative storytelling all over the world an opportunity to invest in a project set to make a mark not only in local animation but international territories too.
To learn more or to make a contribution that will help the production team, cast and developers move closer to getting SOLA on national and international screens, visit www.studioyezi.co.za.
Today, the South African Screen Federation (SASFED), supported by the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO), announced the establishment of a COVID-19 Film and Television Relief Fund in collaboration with Netflix to provide emergency relief to the hardest-hit workers in South Africa’s creative community.
The streaming service will donate over R8.3 million, which will be administered by Tshikululu Social Investment, who will screen the applications for eligibility as well as payout the funds to beneficiaries
“SASFED is delighted about the announcement that the Netflix Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund will provide relief for workers in the screen sector that were not eligible for other available relief funds. The SA economy has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, said SASFED executive director, Unathi Malunga.
“The Netflix fund supporting the local film industry brings hope to struggling industry professionals. We hope other potential partners will follow Netflix’s example and support SASFED’s broader initiatives which offer assistance to industry professionals across the whole value chain – an initiative undertaken by industry, for the industry. SASFED applauds Netflix’ support of the local screen sector during the global crisis.”
Sisanda Henna, IPO co-Chairperson said: “Following months of extreme hardship for most of our sector, the IPO is overjoyed that Netflix is providing this desperately-needed relief for those most hard hit by the pandemic – the industry’s below-the-line freelancers to whom no other relief has been available.
“This is a clear demonstration of Netflix’s commitment to the sustainability of the South African film and TV production industry, and we welcome them – with wide open arms – as a partner in our broader efforts to support the screen sector.”
From 3 August the members of the creative community will be able to apply by filling out an online application at Tshikululu’s website (tshikululu.org.za) or mailing physical applications. The eligibility criteria will be posted on the website when applications open.
In March, Netflix announced a $100 million hardship fund to help the hardest-hit workers in the creative community across the world affected by the pandemic, which has since been increased to $150 million. The R8,3 million contribution in South Africa is part of this initiative