The Afrikaner people
Did you know?
Dr Chris Barnard, who performed the world's first heart transplant, was an Afrikaner.
It is often said that the Afrikaner people are the only indigenous white tribe of Africa. Certainly, their language, Afrikaans, is the only one created in Africa by a white group of people. However, it is a language that has been practically adopted by other South African race groups as well.
There are approximately 3 million Afrikaners in South Africa. They have their roots embedded in their Dutch, German, Belgian and French forebears - many of whom were fleeing religious persecution in Europe.
The Afrikaans language is a variant of Dutch. In the 19th century it was recognised as a separate language, though it only replaced Dutch as an official language in 1925. It differs from Dutch in that it has eliminated grammatical gender and most inflected verbs.
Much of Afrikaner culture is patriarchal. In this, there is a strong emphasis on respect for elders. Afrikaners are found throughout South Africa, spreading mainly through the Great Trek, which began in 1828 and remains central to Afrikaner consciousness. This migration from the then-Cape Colony was triggered by a desire to escape the intrusion in daily life by the British administration.
Afrikaner traditional cuisine has found its way into the modern South African way of life, becoming a favourite for many. They love meat, with accompanying vegetables often flavoured and sweetened.
One of their more popular pastimes is the braaivleis, known elsewhere around the world as a barbecue. Other great Afrikaner foods are melktert (milk tart), beskuit (biscuits that been oven dried, known as rusks in English) and koeksisters (a sweet, twisted dough dipped in syrup). Many Afrikaans dishes also have their roots in the old Dutch East India colonies of Indonesia and Malaysia.
Afrikaners often refer to themselves as boere (farmers), but this belies their sophistication and contribution to all spheres of South African life. What they are is passionate, especially about the great outdoors, the national sport of rugby union, Afrikaans literature and music.
Central in most Afrikaner lives is Christianity, especially the Dutch Reformed Church. This is evident in Afrikaner-dominated small towns where beautiful, imposing churches define the skyline.