Zulu Creation Story and Zulu Pantheon

As with many African ethnic groups, the Zulu people have a creation story and a pantheon (a collection of all the gods and goddesses of a people/religion). According to Zulu tradition, the first god or source, Umvelinqangi, was the Sky Father and the god of thunder and lightning. Umvelinqangi descended from the heavens to Uhlanga,… Continue reading Zulu Creation Story and Zulu Pantheon

Mandela, Mantis and Moon

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is known famously as the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, philosopher and president, who spent 27 years in prison. He was, however, also a curator of culture, who helped to gather African stories, myths and legends. He once said, “It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller will never die in… Continue reading Mandela, Mantis and Moon

The Whitewashing of Afrikaans (Part 2)

From around 1815, Afrikaans, written in Arabic script, began to be used in Islamic schools. Historian Achmat Davids found a koplesboek, an exercise book in which madrassa students copied down prayers and lessons, dating back to 1806. Perhaps because of these links to slave populations, for centuries Afrikaans was considered derogatively as an uncivilised "kitchen"… Continue reading The Whitewashing of Afrikaans (Part 2)

The Polyglot Origins of Afrikaans (Part 1)

Did you know the earliest Afrikaans text was written in Arabic script? Afrikaans is a language spoken in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The name Afrikaans is a shortened form of the Dutch name Afrikaans-Holland which means “African Dutch.” Beginning in the 17th century, Dutch was passed down among the descendents of settlers from… Continue reading The Polyglot Origins of Afrikaans (Part 1)

A Prophecy and the Fall of the Xhosa Nation

How might the words of a 15 year-old prophetess have led to the deaths of 400,000 cattle and 40,000 individuals, as well as the displacement of a further 40,000 others? In 1856, in the present-day South Africa, Nongqawuse (15) with her friend Nombanda (≈9), went to her uncle Mhlakaza's farm along the Gxarha river, to… Continue reading A Prophecy and the Fall of the Xhosa Nation

The First Heart Transplant

On 3rd December 1967 in Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital, Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant. The procedure involved a cardiothoracic team of 30 and lasted nine hours! At the “Heart of Cape Town Museum” in South Africa, visitors can see recreations of the original operating rooms. The patient was Louis… Continue reading The First Heart Transplant

Grootslang: The Half-Elephant Half-Serpent Beast of the Richtersveld

According to South African legend, the gods once created a very cunning species of creature known as the Grootslang (Dutch and Afrikaans for ‘big snake’). These beasts, as old as the world itself, measured over 12 metres long with a snake body and elephant head. However, the gods soon realized that these creatures were too… Continue reading Grootslang: The Half-Elephant Half-Serpent Beast of the Richtersveld