Family Life

Many Blacks live in rural areas and lead traditional lifestyles. Generally speaking, families live with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Traditional gender roles for men and women are valued. Family line is important and marriage is not just a bond between men and women, but concerns both sets of families and often involves elaborate negotiations. Various cultural ceremonies such as rites of passage exist for both genders. In rural areas, people make their living primarily through agriculture.

In the urban areas, one commonly finds labourers, trained professionals and entrepreneurs. Apartheid created economic barriers and disadvantages for Black people, making life very difficult for them. Black people were not allowed to bring their families into the city.

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Ceremonial clothing and adornment play an important role in traditional customs of the Black peoples and vary according to such things as age and marital status.

The Asian communities of South Africa are primarily urban. Apartheid policies have been less restrictive for the Asian populations than for Black people. Asians form an educated middle class and most own shops or small businesses.

The family life of South African Indians has retained much of the culture and traditions of their homeland. Families are close-knit and often include grandparents and other close relations. As a community, they have maintained and cultivated a high degree of internal solidarity.

The Coloured or Mixed Race populations of South Africa are a diverse group. Family life has developed along Western lines. Most speak Afrikaans and are Christian or Muslim. While they are better off than the Asian and Black populations, they have not enjoyed the privileges of the South African upper class. For this reason, most identify politically with the disadvantaged groups.

While the White population of South Africa is in the minority, it is considered economically and socially the upper class of this country. Most Whites live in cities. They are generally well-educated and highly skilled and until recently, formed a political majority. They are primarily Christian.