The poster child for diversity, South Africa has risen above hard core challenges and some seriously darker times, breaking through a glorious, effervescent and tenacious version of its former self.
Culturally and ethnically diverse as they come, a Rainbow Nation gave South Africans the long awaited chance to embrace their differences and sever the barriers between the people, united as one. With an unprecedented 11 official languages, the country is a delightful mix of skin tones, religious beliefs, ethnicity and mother tongues, all working and living side by side.
But change is not always as easy as it seems, and the transition that South Africa has experienced during the last 2 decades has certainly not been the easiest. But as a new generation emerges — post-apartheid babies all grown up — having experienced a vastly different start to life than their elder counterparts, South Africa is starting to see other changes that are as exciting and dynamic as the people themselves.
Originating from the process of change after Apartheid the country has 11 official languages, but the main business language is English followed by Afrikaans. Later is slowly declining due to the reluctance of the black people to speak the language of their former oppressors.
Christianity is the mayor religion in South Africa. The following part will give a short introduction on the history of South Africa and the role of each cultural group in society.
People stand to their color and talk about it openly not like the US. Black tribes and San and Khoikoi were the first people who settled in the southern tip of Africa. But only in Jan van Riebeck founded the first settlement at the Cape.
At the beginning of the 19th century Great Britain obtained the ownership of the Cape colony but many settlers did not agree with the crown and the government. Especially people from Dutch origin felt oppressed by the British rule.
The settlers already lost the relationship to their mother country and saw themselves as Africans or Afrikaners as they called themselves, a fact that will influence history for the next years.
With the great trek many of them moved up to the north and founded cities like Johannesburg, Bloemfoentein and Pretoria. The Boers lost this war and suffered bitterly under their oppressors. In this time the British developed the concept of concentration camps and tested them successfully on Afrikaans women and children. This generated a hate that is still visible today. In the following years through more moderate political movement the Afrikaans regained political rights and in the end the overall rule over South Africa.
The Afrikaans are closely linked to the African continent and see Africa as their given country from god. They are willing to fight for it whatever may come. The British on the other hand were more linked to their mother country. Malan won the elections and established the system of Apartheid, meaning a system of race segregation in every aspect.
This was a mayor drawback for the ANC but the movement did not stop. The white nationalist party tried to establish even more the system of race segregation and stepped out of the Commonwealth in and achieved Republic status. Finally in the s after many bloody fights between blacks and whites, the UNO acted with punishment for South Africa. The sanctions damaged the economy severely and many countries condemned South Africa leaving the country in a state of emergency.
In the late s negotiations with the government and Mandela took place, and in Mandela was released out of prison. Out of the process of reconciliation a new democracy was founded in with Nelson Mandela as the first black and freely elected president of the new South Africa.
South Africa is a very pride nation. Even though they are deeply divided by their history and race, all see themselves as Africans regardless of their color.
The individual and society One should also be aware that there do exist regional differences. On the one hand there is the industrialized city of Johannesburg, which has a modern and open attitude.
Criminality is obvious in every corner, but music and art are booming everywhere. Than there is the very rural and conservative Free State, which is governed by blacks but many white Afrikaans farmers do live here and reject the black government.
KwaZulu-Natal is located in the east with Durban as a mayor city and a large Indian community. Indians are in conflict between traditions and western culture in South Africa.
Zulus mainly live in the KwaZulu-Natal area and are one of the former chief tribes in Southern Africa. They resent the mainly Xhosa dominated government and show their reluctance. But apartheid separated families. Women had to work as maids in white areas but their children had to remain at home in black townships usually far away from the white areas.
Or men working in goldmines had to leave their family at home in rural areas because the white government tried to hinder the movement of blacks to the cities. Even nowadays the consequences can be seen. Her children and family lived about km away, and she only saw them once a year for three weeks. Whites see the family more from a nuclear point of view and are more characterized by individualist behavior.
Blacks on the other hand have very strong family ties. They teach their children to respect older people and to obey to their parents. Families provide much support to children especially with parents working far away from home. These are sports like Rugby, Cricket and soccer.
Either cultural group can get very excited of any success reached by a South African. First world technology and economic structures dominate cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town but especially in black rural communities people live below the subsistence level. Even though Apartheid was abolished the indifference between whites and blacks is still visible. One should be aware of this fact when doing business with South Africans.
Hence they are familiar with western style customs and even share them. But still they may differ and one should take it into consideration. Due to the anti-discrimination policy of the government more and more other ethnic groups find their way into business and economic life.
Martin Ott points out that it is important to have local knowledge, ethnical understandings and social-cultural factors to be successful in a foreign country. But one must also recognize the understanding horizon, argumentation styles and not articulated target expectations hidden agenda of the other cultural group. He also states that the degree of difficulty to communicate with black Africans is much higher compared to for example the communication between US Americans and French.
He says that western people have even lesser problems communicating with Asians than with people from black Africa. Hence they have another understanding of society and life. Even though Asian countries might differ strongly in their values and norms from western countries both still have one in common - a feeling for rationality, civilization, logic and certain principles of law and order. Black tribes on the other hand are often guided by magic and do think in totally different categories.
South Africa is far away from being guided by this thinking like other SubSaharan African States, but it influences society. Many authors have dealt with intercultural relationships and different approaches do exist. Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck show six different orientations, which concern the nature of people good, evil, a mixture , the relationship to nature dominant, in harmony, subjugation , relationship to other people hierarchical, collectivist, individualist , modality of human activity doing, being, containing , temporal focus of human activity future, present, past and the conception of space private, public, mixed.
But the model only distinct cultures in general and does not accurately predict the values of sub-cultural minorities, the values practiced in different industries and organizations and values practiced in exceptional circumstances. Even though the company is located in South Africa, German values and cultural norms dominate the company and its way of doing business.
German managers do adapt to the local environment and respect differences but also work with their values and norms. South Africa characterizes itself as a rainbow nation - a nation very diversified.
Hence values that might be true for white Africans do not apply for Zulus or Indians. Hall and the context of cultures The model of Hall puts cultures into a context - low or high. High context cultures depend highly on their environment. People value long lasting relationships and communication is defined by a shared code. Hence people communicate very efficiently, fast and economical. Authority is highly valued and subordinates show a great loyalty to their superior.
Agreements in business and personal life are rather spoken than written down. Logic is respected highly and communication depends less on nonverbal codes. Agreements are written down and are normally legally binding.
There is no large distinction between insiders and outsiders hence newcomers find it easily to adjust. Cultural patterns are likely to change faster. But Hall points out that no country is clearly high or low in context and mixtures do exist. Anglo countries like the US or South Africa tend to be low in context. Especially the white community is characterized by such a low context.
But Blacks are characterized by a high context culture. Black ethnical groups do value relationships and communicate with a shared code like hand signs or certain gestures. Hofstede18 and the four dimensions of culture Hofstede's model shows how national culture influences the workplace. He compared cultures along four dimensions: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism versus collectivism and masculinity versus femininity.
The society is also characterized by an individual approach and a high tendency towards masculinity. This has a mayor impact on business behavior, management and leadership styles. Business is usually very conservative and hierarchy plays an important role.
And even though South Africans favor the individual approach they are more of a collectivist nature than US Americans. Black people even tend to a strong collectivism and community thinking. South Africa is also a largely male dominated society which I will outline a bit more in the next section.
Hofstede only analyzed one specific industry and one single multinational company IBM. But the strengths of the model are overwhelming, because it goes deep into detail about cultural values and norms.
The four dimensions Hofstede points out are highly relevant and very good for comparing cultures. Due to the economic sanctions against South Africa the country developed a strategy to accumulate assets and to control the economy. But nowadays the country has to develop a new strategy to distribute wealth in the best way and to empower blacks and support the integration process.
This process is not easy and will still take years. If South Africa can use the strength of each ethnic group, they will most likely succeed. But workers try to outbalance work and family life and do not live to work. As mentioned before especially in black communities family plays an important role and has an effect on business.
Male chauvinism Rissik in her book Culture Shock South Africa states that in general men from all ethnical groups have a strong tendency to show chauvinist behavior. Even though they are very polite towards women and treat them with great courtesy, they have a strong opinion about the role of women.
Even though many black women have been involved in politics during times of Apartheid the dominance of males can be seen in any field, may it be business, politics or private life. This is also based on history and traditions, but it is changing. She characterizes South Africa as a country ruled by male chauvinism, which shows in many aspects of life but especially in business and sports.
But women do fight for their rights and received an equal standard by law. But especially tribal law does still disadvantage women, and South Africans are able to choose under which law they would like to be treated. Many men still want their women to stay at home and take care of children and household. The situation of women is better in companies with many white-collar workers or in senior positions.
The consequence of the mistreatment of women is that many start running their own business e. In a very hard position are domestic workers - long working hours, unfair dismissal, little annual leave and work far away from home.
There do exist differences in the cultural and ethnical groups but in general women are treated less equal. Whites like Afrikaans and English favor the nuclear family with women staying at home. Tribal law and customs dominate black women. Indian women have to deal with the caste system and even though they live outside India they still practice traditional customs and rules e. Employment equity act At this stage it is also important to notice that the government put in action an Employment Equity Act after the end of Apartheid.
This means that all people from all cultural and ethnical backgrounds have to be treated equal in business life. Due to this policy, companies are forced to employ more and more Blacks, Coloreds, Indians, women and disabled people measured on the percentage they make in the nation.
Many whites fear losing their job or inequality compared to blacks. Companies not applying this into their personnel development strategy are punished with high fees or sanctions.
Meetings28 Meetings in South Africa should be well prepared and some way ahead. Punctuality is very important for business meetings. Be aware that South Africans are used to have a tea break at 10 a. This is an important part of any meeting and one should take the time to chitchat and strengthen relationships. During meetings South Africans should not be rushed and the business people should outline as much information as possible about their company, values and qualifications.
Be aware of holiday times, which are mainly over Christmas. Nothing goes between middle December and middle January. As mentioned before meetings have a more conservative nature. When dealing with black South Africans this can differ, meaning that agendas might be more flexible and time is not overstressed.
People do not like to work overtime because family plays an important role. So meetings late in the evening are a no-no. Because South Africa is a more collectivist society see Hofstede South Africans put great emphasis on business relationships. Meetings are built on trust and good relationships. South Africans do favor individual success but it is more important to have a comfortable business environment. Connections and relationships Especially white South Africa is characterized by business elites.
These businessmen share similar backgrounds and visited one of the three top schools in South Africa. These bonds are very important for business and the tendency to be in a business club derives from the most famous one in South Africa - the Afrikaans broederbond. This was a secret association dealing with the political matters in the country.
Blacks if they could afford it on the other hand usually had to study abroad to gain a good education and hence have a sound knowledge on other countries and even do speak other languages.
Blacks and Indians get more and more into the business sector and are changing the look of business. Also many international companies are investing in South Africa and leave their marks.
People focus on relationships in the first part and then on business and they treat others as individuals. It is more advisable to contact chambers of commerce, commercial services, trade commissions or embassies. The next part gives a short overview of these in South Africa.
One should not forget that there exist many different cultures in South Africa and that they all have different believes and values which influence communication, negotiation styles and leadership traits. Hence the picture has a rather general nature. They also define eight so called ingredients of communication which are the behavioral source, encoding verbal and nonverbal behaviors are selected to create a message , the message itself, the channel by which the message moves between people, the responder of the message, decoding of the message, the response and finally feedback.
Communication is also a dynamic, interactive and irreversible process and takes place in a physical and social context. I already outlined some of the models for describing cultures in chapter three. Cultures share same artifacts, concepts and behaviors.
We are only able to generalize certain cultures but exceptions do exist. Samovar and Porter add some important issues to the fact culture: namely that culture is learned, transmissible, dynamic, selective, interrelated and ethno-centric.
Culture is the basis for communication and the authors divide communication in three mayor elements - the perceptual process, the verbal process and the nonverbal process. Social perception, values, beliefs and attitudes, worldview and social organizations like family and school influence our style of communication.
Perceptions, values and beliefs differ in each cultural group and hence communication differs. Verbal Process The verbal process is described by language, the way people talk and patterns of thought. As outlined before, 11 of them are official and one can imagine how confusing conversation can be. During times of Apartheid Afrikaans was the main language and is now understood by almost everyone.
But due to Apartheid many blacks are reluctant to speak it nowadays and English becomes more and more important. But for many South Africans it is only the second language and confusion may occur. White Afrikaans share comparable values and thinking patterns with western nations like Holland, Germany and the US. But blacks may be guided by magic and natural beliefs which reflects in their way of thinking and hence in the way the verbally communicate.
There are words that only exist in South Africa like Biltong dried and spiced meat , Fanagalo mixture of Afrikaans, English, and African languages or Shebeen township pub. For this paper only some of these parts will be outlined to show mayor characteristics of the South African Society.
Perception of time Time perceptions differ between the different cultural groups in South Africa. White South Africans usually have a strong tendency towards punctuality and follow a more linear approach. Business people should be on time in South Africa.
When it comes to social activities, South Africans do not enforce punctuality but being late is not advisable. Business in South Africa usually starts early around 8 a. Deadlines are not seen very cautious and South Africans have a more relaxed approach.
It is no big deal if deadlines are not held. Hence even though they prefer punctuality all South Africans have a more relaxed approach towards time and the importance of it. Gestures and Facial Expression Gestures are used a lot by the black population, mostly in the term of hand signs. For example if someone wants to ride a black taxi in Johannesburg the person stands at the side of street and with this hands shows the driver where he or she wants to go to.
There are also many gestures that originate from times of Apartheid. South Africans use hand gestures in meetings to express their involvement in a matter.And we did, for a time. Use the traditional western-style handshake, then, without letting go of the person's hand, slide your hand around the other person's thumb, then go back to the original western position. Nothing goes between middle December and middle January.
The people of South Africa made the miracle of peaceful change possible in and South Africa is nowadays seen as one of the driving forces in South Africa - a role model for racial harmony. After the National Party won they had been given the Sauer report, which said that they had to choose between integration or an Apartheid. Violence seems to be a legacy long left behind from a country torn by apartheid.
Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck show six different orientations, which concern the nature of people good, evil, a mixture , the relationship to nature dominant, in harmony, subjugation , relationship to other people hierarchical, collectivist, individualist , modality of human activity doing, being, containing , temporal focus of human activity future, present, past and the conception of space private, public, mixed. The country had to and is still dealing with its turbulent past of Apartheid. The government, the police force, and all of the citizens commit acts of corruption on an everyday basis in order to secure contracts, grants, and in order to earn more money. It is a story about bloodshed, suffering and tears. There do exist differences in the cultural and ethnical groups but in general women are treated less equal.
Naumann, Uwe. This was a mayor drawback for the ANC but the movement did not stop. They also stand much closer together than for example their German counterparts.
Finally in the s after many bloody fights between blacks and whites, the UNO acted with punishment for South Africa. This is an important part of any meeting and one should take the time to chitchat and strengthen relationships. It was a long struggle for the Africans, which included riots, protests, segregation and physical pain. Ape-like hominids who migrated to South Africa around three million years ago became the first human-like inhabitants of the area now known as South Africa. Black South Africans were held in a form of imprisonment and could do little to fight back, causing Apartheid to be one of the darkest periods in black history. As mentioned before meetings have a more conservative nature.
Culture is the basis for communication and the authors divide communication in three mayor elements - the perceptual process, the verbal process and the nonverbal process.
His beliefs landed him in prison for twenty-seven years, almost three decades. Many men still want their women to stay at home and take care of children and household.
What challenges do educators face bringing on this. Blacks and Indians get more and more into the business sector and are changing the look of business. Now, the country even has its own leader. But due to the Employment Equity Act this is changing and other values and beliefs influence more and more communication and negotiation styles and the organizational structure.
In this time the British developed the concept of concentration camps and tested them successfully on Afrikaans women and children.
According to Elias Tibane , these unique and diverse creatures roam a surface area of 1,, km squared. Many of these traditions, besides African culture, are influenced by European and Western heritage.
He is Jacob Zuma. Is the new curriculum in the best interest of the country and its future or in the best interest of those people in power in our country? Public sector transformation and ethics: A view fromSouth Africa. When invited to a home, be sure to bring a small gift chocolate or flowers are fine.
The high walls and fences surrounding especially white neighborhoods usually shock people coming to South Africa.