There are many countries that display various types and forms of communication, especially in some countries of Africa. One of the most toured and “rainbow” diverse country in Africa is apparently South Africa. Even though most of the country is predominantly black, it is also known to be one of the most multicultural countries in the world. In fact, there are many different ethnic groups that make up the countries’ population in urban areas. Also, it explain black people of South Africa colonialism and immigration have brought in white Europeans, Indians, Indo-Malays, Chinese and many more.
The best the thing to do is describe some of South African culture, customs, manners, etiquette, values in order to understand the people better. You may be going to South Africa on business, for a visit or even hosting South African colleagues or clients in your own country. Remember, this is only a very basic prologue and is not meant to stereotype all South Africans you may meet! South Africa can be described as a social community that has a various types of communicational style, depending on the ethnic group or maybe the area At the same time they value human politeness over materialism.
People living in the city live their life in the fast lane, which affects their outlook. People from the city Johannesburg can quite often be regarded as having materialistic values, and being more concerned in what you own rather than who you are in general. They prefer to see themselves as urbane and their country cousins as less sophisticated. However, in rural areas family ties, long-term friendships and social standing are all important to South Africans.
The many rural black communities and villages are still rooted in the traditions of their heritage, whereas the increasingly urban black community combines their roots with the urban environment and international influences that surround them. In order to be accepted by the majority of South African culture, you must first understand their customs. South Africans are openly expressive when it comes to their customs. In fact, some of the countries customs are related to the United States in a way.
For instance, the United States and South African share similar greetings, the English language and attires. When trying to get to know someone, South Africans, regardless of ethnicity, prefer meeting and greeting someone face to face instead of impersonal communication like email, letter, or telephone. Greetings are unhurried and can include time for social conversations and the exchanging of them too. “Currently, there are several greeting styles in South Africa, depending upon the ethnic heritage of the person you are visiting.
When dealing with foreigners, most South Africans shake hands while maintaining eye contact and smiling” (Kwintessential 2004). Some women of South Africa don’t like to shake hands, usually they will merely nod their head, so it is best to wait for a woman to extend her hand first. Men can also kiss a woman they know well on the cheek in place of a handshake; something like France. Gender can also play a role in communication in some parts of South Africa. Traditionally, South African women have held second-class status to men.
African social structures are centered on men, leaving women powerless (Martinez,1). Basically this called “Patriarchal”. This is mainly the belief of social communities throughout the entire racial and ethnic population of South Africa. Women roles is to cook and be the caregivers instead the household providers. Sometimes there are women in South Africa who have to follow their husband around or cannot go anywhere without them. Some continue to follow their traditional values; mostly are tribes and those living in villages.
Sadly, Patriarchal societies remain prevalent today in South Africa. Another form of the South African culture would be celebrations. There’s one event that is celebrated in the South Africa called the “Rainbow” Cuisine (Hill, 1). The Rainbow Cuisine is meaningful and traditional to the country. It brings all ethnicity and culture together by using music, dance, cultural food and turning it into a big festival; something like Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl put together but bigger. In general, South Africans give gifts for birthdays and Christmas like Americans.
However, South Africans only celebrate two main birthdays 21 and 40 while Americans celebrate 16, 18, 21, and 50. “Most South African’s birthdays are often celebrated with a large party in which a lavish gift is given” (Kwintessential 2004). It is common for several friends to contribute to this gift to help defray the cost. If you are invited to a South African’s home, bring flowers, good quality chocolates, or a bottle of good South African wine to the hostess (Kwintessential 2004). Wrapping a gift nicely shows extra effort. Gifts are opened when received.
Just like the United States when you are invited to a South African’s household. A person must always arrive on time if invited to dinner. It’s considered very rude to show up late or don’t even show up to an invited dinner. Contact the hostess ahead of time to see if she would like you to bring a dish. Every guest have to be in casual wear or at least look presentable for other guest who are also invited and for the host as well. There are some ways to be appreciative of your host’s invite and that’s to offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served.
Most South Africans feel well respected when someone show kindness towards them and their family, especially over their food. Gentlemen can also get away with wearing jeans or shorts at a dinner, but they have to be pressed and not wrinkly. So before arriving to the dinner it is always a good idea to check with the hosts in advance. In the urban areas of South Africa, the casual is dressier than in other parts of the country so a person shouldn’t wear jeans or shorts unless you have spoken to the hosts.
Now, there is some comparison with South Africa and the United States on some issues. One would be is how South Africa and the United States are conducting business ties with each other. Apparently, South Africans want to maintain agreeable working protocol relationships, so they shun confrontations. It is said that being imperative can help to develop mutual trust before negotiating with someone in business. Another rule in company’s or business negotiating it to never interrupt a South African while they are speaking.
Interrupting can cause a huge fail between the buyer and seller, more over it can mess up business. South Africans strive for consensus and win-win situations. South Africans do not like bargaining over price, they believe in final decision- making. “Decision-making may be concentrated at the top of the company and decisions are often made after consultation with subordinates, so the process can be slow and protracted” (U. S. Library of Congress). However, in South Africa women today still have yet to attain advanced professional positions.
If you send a woman, she must expect to encounter some condescending behavior and to be tested in ways that a male colleague would not. Women might have equal rights as men, however they are still treated unequally in higher business positions that’s ran mostly by men, like in the United States. South Africa and the United States are practicing friendlier connections in many areas. “More than 500 United States companies have more than US$5 billion in direct investments in South Africa in the mid-1990s, and trade between the two countries is increasing steadily” (U. S. Library of Congress).
Despite the alleged disagreements in government between the two countries, they both learned to communicate and cooperate with each other by coming to verbal agreements on how business should be ran. South Africa can be an overall great experience for any tourist. Their culture can be easily understood by any ethnicity around the world. Hopefully South Africans will continue to expand traditions, culture, values, customs, and etiquettes in their country, despite diversity. The “Rainbow” nation will continue to shine their colors and will always be equally match to other countries, even the United States.
Courtney from Study Moose
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