South African Government

Let's grow South Africa together

Sports, Arts and Culture

Increasing market share and job opportunities
Supporting youth development
Role players
Major events
Major sporting activities
Services rendered
Cultural Development
Arts and culture organisations






Cover page of Sport, Arts and Culture chapter of South Africa Pocket GuideThe Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) is mandated to provide leadership to the sport, arts and culture sector to accelerate its transformation; oversee the development and management of sport, arts and culture in South Africa; legislate on sports participation, on sports infrastructure and on safety; improve South Africa’s international ranking in selected sports through a partnership with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee; preserve, develop, protect and promote the cultural, heritage, linguistic diversity and legacy of South Africa; lead nation-building and social cohesion through social transformation; enhance archives and records management structures and systems, and promote access to information.

Chapter 15 of the National Development Plan (NDP) outlines a vision for transforming society and uniting South Africa, particularly by means of promoting social cohesion, developing an active citizenry and leadership, and fostering a social compact. The social compact aims to address social problems through collective action and agreements between citizens and government in which the rights and duties of each party are defined and limited.

The NDP’s vision is given expression by Priority 5 (social cohesion and safe communities) of government’s 2019‐2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework, with which the work of the DSAC is aligned. Accordingly, the department’s ongoing and overarching objective is to provide an enabling environment to cultivate an active, creative, winning and socially cohesive nation.

Over the medium term, the department will focus on: increasing market share and job opportunities created in the sport, cultural and creative industries; promoting a diverse and socially cohesive society with a common national identity; enabling a transformed, capable and professional sport, arts and culture sector; providing integrated and accessible sports, arts and culture infrastructure and information; and supporting youth development.

Increasing market share and job opportunities

To contribute to economic growth through job creation, the department endeavours to mainstream the sports, creative and cultural industries in the economy. In this regard, the department increases market share and intensifies job creation through providing funding for projects in the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, which aims to stimulate economic opportunities for arts, culture and heritage practitioners in poor and remote communities.

In terms of sport, Netball South Africa will host the Netball World Cup in Cape Town in 2023 at a cost of R69 million over the medium term. The event is expected to inject R250 million into the economy in 2023/24

Promoting a diverse and socially cohesive society with a common national identity

The department engages in various activities in fulfilling its mandate to promote diversity, social cohesion and nation-building. In this regard, over the medium term, the department will continue to foreground national symbols that are inclusive and contribute to a sense of unity among South Africans.

Initiatives include funding 60 public awareness activations on the I Am the Flag campaign, hosting 18 workshops to advance knowledge of national symbols, and implementing the Young Patriots programme to instil patriotism and promote the preamble to the Constitution among young people. In addition, activities related to the social cohesion advocates initiative, moral regeneration efforts and sector engagements leading to the conclusion of the social compact are expected to be carried out over the medium term.

The department has recognised the need for citizens to get into the habit of participating in sport and recreation activities from a young age towards building an active nation that interacts across space, race and class. Thousands of people are expected to participate in events such as youth camps, the Big Walk, the national recreation day and the national indigenous games festival per year over the medium term.

Nine indigenous games frequently played in South Africa are showcased during the national indigenous games festival. The games bring people from culturally diverse backgrounds together as part of South Africa’s heritage celebrations in September. All provinces present teams selected from various communities at the games, which are held from the community level to the provincial level.

Enabling a transformed, capable and professional sport, arts and culture sector

It is a national imperative and a strategic goal of the DSAC to transform the sport and recreation sector. Federations are audited against their own transformation targets. Based on this, a comprehensive transformation report is published annually that reflects the status of transformation as well as a comparative analysis across different federations. With regards to sport development, young people are funded to showcase their skills at events such as the National School Sport Championship, which exposes South African sporting talent to national federations and talent scouts.

Elite athletes preparing to compete in the All Africa Games, the World Games, the Commonwealth Games, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games receive advanced coaching and financial support each year through the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s high‐performance programme.

Ministerial sports bursaries are awarded to young, talented athletes to enable them to attend verified schools that focus on sports. These bursaries are available for high school learners and are valid for the duration of their school careers if they maintain their sporting achievements. Each year, a minimum of 50 qualifying learners are expected to be supported through the payment of their school fees; the provision of school uniforms, sport clothing and equipment and sport scientific support; and event attendance.

Providing integrated and accessible sports, arts and culture infrastructure and information

The DSAC’s infrastructure development initiatives aim to achieve redress for South Africa’s historical imbalances, encourage participation in sport and recreation, and contribute to social transformation. Accordingly, activities related to infrastructure development involve establishing and maintaining heritage sites, building and maintaining libraries, and planning and delivering infrastructure for sport and recreation.

Through a partnership with The Sports Trust, the department facilitates the delivery of specialised, multipurpose sports courts and other infrastructure projects to improve access to sport and recreation activities.

Supporting youth development

The department supports school sports leagues in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), and will continue integrating the 16 priority sporting codes and indigenous games, such as morabaraba and jukskei, into the school sports system over the medium term. An estimated 2 500 schools, hubs and clubs are expected to receive equipment and attire in each year over the MTEF period to facilitate sustainable participation.

The department was expected to collaborate and partner with the DBE to enrich and improve the quality of learning in the area of arts and culture co‐host the South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod, with more than 3 000 learners expected to participate annually. Other joint initiatives include the Inner‐City High Schools Drama Festival and the educator skills improvement project in the arts and culture learning area.

Role players

Boxing South Africa (BSA)

BSA administers professional boxing, recognises amateur boxing, creates synergy between professional and amateur boxing, and promotes interaction between associations of boxers, managers, promoters and trainers.

South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS)

The SAIDS promotes participation in sport without the use of prohibited performance enhancing substances and methods, and educates sportspeople on fair play and the harmful effects of the use of prohibited performance enhancing substances and methods.

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)

SASCOC is the national multi-coded sporting body responsible for the preparation, presentation and performance of teams to all multi-coded events, namely the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Games, All Africa Games, Olympic Youth Games, Commonwealth Youth Games and Zone VI Games.

It also looks after the various national federations affiliated to it, together with the various provincial sports councils. SASCOC is responsible for the awarding for National Protea Colours to athletes/officials who have met the criteria to represent South Africa in different sporting codes and arenas. South Africa is also represented on the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa and on the Confederation of Southern African National Olympic Committees.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

The Africa Regional Office of the WADA was established in Cape Town in 2004 to coordinate the anti-doping activities of the agency throughout Africa.

This includes promoting and maintaining effective lines of communication between the WADA and all relevant stakeholders, governments and public authorities, the broad sports movement, national antidoping agencies and laboratories.

South Africa continues to serve as the African representative on the Executive Committee of WADA.

Programmes and projects

Athletics South Africa (ASA) Development

The ASA Development Programme is one of the largest and most effective programmes in the world. Athletics is a labour-intensive sport which requires substantial resources to engage large quantities of athletes, coaches, officials and administrators at all levels of participation.

Major events

Big Walk

The Big Walk is staged on the first Sunday of October to encourage participation in physical activity. The annual Big Walk takes place in October. It is aligned with The Association for International Sport for All World Walking Day, which encourages and lobbies countries to walk by creating advocacy and awareness during October.

TAFISA encourages and lobbies countries to walk by creating advocacy and awareness during October.

Annual National Recreation Day

Although not a public holiday, the day provides an opportunity to all South Africans to be actively involved by participating in recreation activities that will improve their health and wellbeing.

National Indigenous Games

The National Indigenous Games festival forms part of South Africa’s annual heritage celebrations and brings people from culturally diverse backgrounds together. The popularity of the festival in recent years has contributed to an increase in the number of active participants in sport and recreation events. The games played included khokho, intonga, ncuva, morabaraba, diketo, drie stokkies, kgati, dibeke and juskei, all of which are indigenous to South Africa. By mid-2019, Skop die Bal was being scoped as the 10th code.

South African Sports Awards

The 14th South African Sports Awards were a ground-breaking event that saw the hard work and outstanding performances of various sports stars being honoured and awarded at the Playhouse, in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal on 11 November 2019.

The winners were:

  • Administrator of the Year – Cecilia Molokwane.
  • Sportsman of the Year – Moruti Mthalane.
  • Sportsman of the Year with a Disability – Ntando Mahlangu.
  • Sportswoman of the Year – Tatjana Schoenmaker.
  • People’s Choice of the Year – Siya Kolisi.
  • Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability – Anrune Liebenberg-Weyers.
  • Team of the Year – Spar Proteas. • Newcomer of the Year – Micheal Houlie.
  • Coach of the Year – Rassie Errasmus.
  • Volunteer of the Year – Mervyn Mooi.
  • The Recreation Body of the Year – United Through Sports.
  • Photographer of the Year – Philip Maeta
  • Sports Journalist of the Year – Nduduzo Dladla.
  • School Team of the Year – St Benedicts College.
  • Developing School Team of the Year – Ikhwezi Lesizwe Primary School.
  • Indigenous Games Team of the Year – Kwazulu Natal Khokho Female Team.
  • National Federation of the Year – Netball South Africa.
  • Sport Star of the Year – Tatjana Schoenmaker.

Steve Tshwete Lifetime Achievement Awards recipients:

  1. Koos Radebe (Sports Broadcasting commentary, formerly of Radio Zulu and founder Station manager for Metro FM, also former General Manager for SABC Topsport before it became SABC Sport.
  2. Clive Barker, 1996 AFCON winner with Bafana Bafana and qualified the team to the first ever FIFA World Cup.
  3. Fran Hilton-Smith, a great and internationally recognised and pioneering leader of women’s football in the country.
  4. Jomo Sono, a football club owner, coach and former professional footballer, was technical advisor to Clive Barker.
  5. Thulani ‘Sugarboy’ Malinga, the first South Africa boxer to win the prestigious WBC Super Middleweight title in England.
  6. Chester Williams, 1995 Rugby World Cup winner (posthumously).

Minister’s Excellence Awards:

  1. The Springboks
  2. Sim Tshabalala, Young Gold sensation.
  3. Edward Mothibi, winner of the Comrades Marathon.
  4. Zade Waddell, swimmer who won the 50m metres Gold backstroke at the World Aquatic Championship.
  5. Daryl Impey, who won Stage 9 of the Tour de France on Bastille Day.
  6. Karla Pretorius, the netball player.

Major sporting activities

Major sporting codes in South Africa include, among others:

  • Athletics;
  • Biking;
  • Mountain Biking;
  • Cycling;
  • Boxing;
  • Cricket;
  • Canoeing;
  • Rowing;
  • Golf;
  • Hockey;
  • Ice Hockey;
  • Motorsport;
  • Flying;
  • Netball;
  • Rugby;
  • Running (including South Africa’s two world-renowned ultra-marathons – the Comrades Marathon in KwaZulu-Natal and the Two Oceans Marathon in the Western Cape);
  • Soccer;
  • Surfing;
  • Sailing;
  • Swimming;
  • Tennis, and
  • Chess.

South Africa will host the Netball World Cup in 2023, in Cape Town. This is a historic first for the sport in Africa.

Services rendered

Some of the services rendered by the department include the:

  • National Archives, which makes archival material available to the public. Although actual access to archival documentation is free of charge, the public is charged for the reproduction of material for further use, either on film or paper. Publications are also sold, and the public is charged for the transfer of data by magnetic means. National Film, Video and Sound Archives which collects, preserves and provides access to audiovisual records created both by government and private bodies or individuals.
  • Bureau for Heraldry, which registers the heraldic representations, names, special names and uniforms of individuals, associations and institutions. It also renders advice on heraldic and related matters and provides financial assistance to institutions, boards, committees or other public bodies or persons in order to promote the functional objectives of the Bureau of Heraldry.
  • National Language Service, which provides a translating and editing service to all government departments. It also provides policy development support relating to official language development, particularly related to the Use of Official Languages Act of 2012.

Promoting and preserving heritage infrastructure

The department’s infrastructure development initiatives aim to achieve redress for South Africa’s historical imbalances and contribute to social transformation by establishing and maintaining world-class heritage sites to boost tourism and create job opportunities, particularly in historically disadvantaged areas.

Community library services

In addition to building and upgrading libraries, the department, in collaboration with the DBE, the department also plans to build 70 dual library service points to support school curricula and enhance learning outcomes.

Cultural and creative industries

Mzansi Golden Economy seeks to create economic and job opportunities in the arts, culture and heritage sector by supporting programmes designed to develop audiences, stimulate demand, increase market access, and develop skills.

New names of towns

The names of towns that have been changed in the post-democratic dispensation include the following:

  • Limpopo: Bela-Bela (Warmbaths); Lephalale (Ellisras); Modimolle (Nylstroom); Mokopane (Potgietersrus); Musina (Messina); Polokwane (Pietersburg); Senwabarana (Bochum); Mogwadi (Dendron); Morebeng (Soekmekaar); Modjadjiskloof (Duiwelskloof) and Mookgophong (Naboomspruit). •
  • Mpumalanga: eMalahleni (Witbank); eManzana (Badplaas); KwaDukuza (Stanger); Mashishing (Lydenburg); Makhazeni (Belfast); Emgwenya (Waterval Boven); eNtokozweni (Machadodorp); Mbombela; (Nelspruit); eMkhondo (Piet Retief) and Thuli Fakude (Leandra).
  • Free State: Mamafubedu (Petrus Steyn), Hlohlolwane (Clocolan) and Intabazwe (Harrismith).
  • Eastern Cape: James Calata (Jamestown); Maletswai (Aliwal North); Cacadu (Lady Frere); Komani (Queenstown); Khowa (Elliot); KwaBhaca (Mount Frere); MaXesibeni (Mount Ayliff); Dikeni (Alice) and Makhanda (Grahamstown).
  • KwaZulu-Natal: eMthonjaneni (Melmoth).
  • Gauteng: Sophiatown (Triomf).
  • Western Cape: Bo-Kaap (Schotchekloof).

Cultural Development

National Art Bank of South Africa (NABSA)

The NABSA is a national programme of the then DAC, as part of the MGE Strategy implementation. The vision of the NABSA is to promote, foster and stimulate a vibrant market for the collection of South African contemporary visual art. It is tasked with purchasing artworks from South African artists, particularly that of emerging artists in order to lease and sell the artworks to South African Government departments, private companies and private individuals.

Young Patriots Programme

The Young Patriots Programme was launched in 2016 to encourage young people to participate actively in building the capacity of the arts, culture and heritage sector, and gain meaningful skills through service delivery improvement and moral regeneration initiatives, and the youth social cohesion advocates programme

National heritage

As part of efforts in recognising the work of South Africa’s Living Human Treasures, the department has produced two books on women artists who have made a unique contribution to the living heritage. The first two books are about Noria Mabasa, a world-renowned (ceramic and wood) sculptor from Tshino Village in the Vuwani area in Limpopo and Esther Mahlangu, world-famous for her large-scale paintings referencing her Ndebele heritage


South Africa is a multilingual country. The Constitution of the Republic of South of 1996 guarantees equal status to 11 official languages to cater for its diverse people and their cultures. These are: English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. Other languages used in South Africa include the Khoi, Nama and San languages, Sign Language, Arabic, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, French, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Tamil, Shona, Telegu and Urdu. South Africa has various structures and institutions that support the preservation and development of languages

Arts and culture organisations

Some of the organisations which are playing an active role in upholding the mandate of the DSAC include the following:

  • The National Heritage Council engages heritage stakeholders in public and private institutions, including the various organs of civil society, mobilises debates and builds awareness about heritage.
  • The SAHRA is the national administrative management body for the protection of South Africa’s cultural heritage.
  • The National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC) facilitates opportunities for people to practice and appreciate the arts.
  • The National Film and Video Foundation develops and promotes the film and video industry in South Africa.
  • The Pan South African Language Board is a constitutional institution that promotes an awareness of multilingualism as a national resource and supports previously marginalised languages.
  • The SAGNC is an advisory body that facilitates name changes by consulting with communities to advise the Minister of Arts and Culture.
  • Arts institutions such as the State Theatre in Pretoria, Playhouse Company in Durban, Artscape in Cape Town, Market Theatre in Johannesburg, Performing Arts Centre of the Free State in Bloemfontein and the Windybrow Theatre in Johannesburg. • Heritage institutions include Die Afrikaanse Taalmuseum en monument, Paarl; Ditsong Museums of South Africa, Pretoria; Iziko Museums, Cape Town; KwaZulu-Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg; National Museum, Bloemfontein; National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown; Robben Island Museum, Cape Town; Voortrekker Museum, Pietermaritzburg; War Museum of the Boer Republics, Bloemfontein; William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley; Luthuli Museum, Stanger; Nelson Mandela Museum, Mthatha; Freedom Park and the Engelenburg House Art Collection.


Some of the different arts and cultural festivals in South Africa include the following:

  • The Aardklop National Arts Festival is held annually in October in Potchefstroom, North West. Although it is inherently Afrikaans, it is universal in character.
  • Arts Alive International Festival in Newtown in Johannesburg provides the best in homegrown and overseas entertainment in September.
  • The Cape Town International Jazz Festival features international and African artists. It also features photographic and art exhibitions.
  • The Grahamstown National Arts Festival at the end of July is the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent and consists of drama, dance, theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, lectures, a craft fair and workshops, as well as a children’s arts festival.
  • The Kirkwood Wildlife Festival attracts visitors to see the game animal auction, agricultural exhibitions.
  • The Dance Umbrella is a festival of contemporary choreography and dance, presenting work ranging from community-based dance troupes to international companies. The Dance Umbrella has established itself as the main “stepping stone” for many South African choreographers who now work internationally.
  • The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, a vibrant festival for the performing arts, is held annually in Oudtshoorn and presentations include drama, cabaret, and contemporary and classical music.
  • The Moretele Park Tribute Concert is an annual festival which is held at Moretele Park in Mamelodi, Pretoria.
  • The Cape Town Minstrel Festival sees the minstrels taking over the streets of Cape Town (Mother City) annually on 2 January for a parade that dates back to the mid-19th century. More than 13 000 minstrels in over 70 troupes parade throughout the city centre in their colourful garb.
  • The Mangaung African Cultural Festival in Bloemfontein is one of the biggest cultural tourism events in southern Africa. This 10-day festival in October showcases the cream of African and international talent.
  • The National Arts Festival, held annually in July in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, is one of the largest and most diverse arts gatherings in Africa.
  • Oppikoppi Music Festival near Northam in North West offers live performances by rock, alternative and blues bands, both local and from abroad.
  • The Splashy Fen Music Festival near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal offers a variety of mainstream and alternative rock and pop music.
  • Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is Johannesburg’s biggest annual jazz festival, with local and international artists performing at different venues across the city.
  • Up the Creek is a popular music festival held in February on the banks of the Breede River near Swellendam in the Western Cape.
  • The White Mountain Folk Festival in the Central Drakensberg mountain range offers great music in an awesome setting for three days in September. It features acoustic performances by some of South Africa’s top folk musicians.
  • 503 Music Festival takes place twice a year in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal. It is all about celebrating and thanking icons who were born and raised in the area, also bringing other national icons to the township.

Other festivals that attract both national and international visitors are: Innibos in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga; Taung Cultural Calabash in North West; the Awesome Africa Music Festival in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal; the Windybrow Theatre Festival in Johannesburg; Hilton Arts Festival in KwaZulu-Natal, and the One City Many Cultures in Cape Town, Western Cape.

Cultural tourism

Cultural festivals, African-cuisine projects, cultural villages, heritage routes and storytelling are areas that benefit from South Africa’s booming tourism industry. Many cultural villages have been established throughout South Africa to reflect the different cultures and traditions of the country’s people.


There are over 100 active venues across the country offering everything from indigenous drama, music, dance, cabaret and satire to classical opera and ballet. Performing arts institutions which receive annual transfers from the DSAC include the South African State Theatre, The Playhouse Company, Artscape Theatre, The Market Theatre and the Performing Arts Council of the Free State.


Music is one of the key cultural industries identified in the Cultural Industrial Growth Strategy Report and government has committed itself to harnessing its potential. In addition to its cultural value, music plays an important economic role in the country, generating significant copyright revenue. In this industry, the department has solid foundations on which to build. These include the annual South African Music Week, the in-school education programme run in conjunction with the DBE, and the Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition.

The Taking South African Music to the World Programme is aimed at improving export opportunities for South African music. Government funds a number of musical ensembles directly and indirectly, through the NAC. South Africa is the 25th largest market for recorded music, with the industry employing more than 20 000 people. Local music accounts for a third of all the music bought by South Africans.

Township jazz and blues, especially the kwêla music of the 40s and 50s, are being redefined; the country also has a rich choral tradition, and pop and rock musicians have made their mark internationally.

Even techno-rave and house music have found their own variations in local culture. Kwaito and hip-hop are very popular, combining elements of rap, reggae and other musical styles into a distinctly South African style. Kwaai Jazz is also gaining momentum.

South African Music Awards (SAMAs)

The annual SAMAs has become the most prestigious and sought-after music accolade in the country and in the time of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the ceremony was moved from the Sun City Superbowl in North West, and streamed on My Muze by Vodacom and broadcast on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161).

The 26th SAMAs were held from 3 to 7 August 2020. Unlike previous years’ shows, the ceremony was broadcast as a five-night event, with the first four episodes being 30 minutes long, while the fifth one was a 45-minute grand finale. The winners of the 26th SAMAs were:

  • Album of the Year: Prince Kaybee, Re Mmino.
  • Best Adult Contemporary Album: Ndlovu Youth Choir, Afrika.
  • Best African Adult Contemporary Album: Pilani Bubu, Folklore - Chapter 1.
  • Best African Indigenous Faith Album: Amadodana Ase Wesile, Lona Baratang Hophela.
  • Best Afro Pop Album: Samthin’ Soweto, Isphithiphithi.
  • Best Alternative Album: Lo-Ghost, Cult Pop.
  • Best Classical Album: James Grace, Andaluza - Music of Spain III.
  • Best Contemporary Faith Music Album: Benjamin Dube, Glory In His Presence.
  • Best Dance Album: Prince Kaybee, Re Mmino.
  • Best Engineer: Peter Auret, Into Dust/Waltz For Jozi.
  • Best Hip Hop Album: Yanga Chief, Becoming A Popstar.
  • Best Jazz Album: Ndabo Zulu & Umgidi Ensemble, Queen Nandi: The African Symphony.
  • Best Kwaito/Gqom/Amapiano: DJ Tira, Ikhenani.
  • Best Live Audio Visual Recording: Benjamin Dube, Glory In His Presence.
  • Best Maskandi Album: Thokozani Langa, Upopayi. • Best Pop Album: Matthew Mole, Ghost.
  • Best Produced Album: MFR Souls, DJ Maphorisa, Virgo Deep, Kabza De Small, Scorpion Kings 1.
  • Best Produced Music Video: Ofentse, Fetch Your Life (Prince Kaybee).
  • Best R and B/Soul Album: Lungisa Xhamela, My Heart To Your Soul.
  • Best Reggae Album: Bongo Riot, True Stories.


The National Arts Council is responsible for funding the KwaZulu-Natal, Cape and Gauteng orchestras as well as the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra.


Dancing is part of the African way of life and has become a prime means of artistic expression, with dance companies expanding and exploring new territory. Contemporary work ranges from normal preconceptions of movement and performance art or performance theatre to the completely unconventional. Added to this is the African experience, which includes traditional dance inspired by wedding ceremonies, battles, rituals and the trifles of everyday life.

An informal but highly versatile performance venue in Johannesburg, The Dance Factory, provides a permanent platform for a variety of dance and movement groups. The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Theatre is another popular dance venue.

Visual arts

South Africa has a rich variety of visual art, with influences ranging from pre-historic, ancient and indigenous art to western, Asian and contemporary art. Art galleries, ranging from small privately owned commercial galleries, to major regional galleries such as the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, the Durban Art Gallery in KwaZulu-Natal, the Johannesburg Art Gallery in Gauteng and King George VI Gallery in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, showcase collections of indigenous, historical and contemporary works.

Rock art

There are many traces of ancient cultures that existed in southern Africa in the distant past. Experts estimate that there are 250 000 rock-art sites south of the Zambezi. The San people left a priceless and unique collection of Stone Age paintings and engravings in the region, which also represents the largest collection of its kind in the world.


With its scenic beauty, abundant wildlife, diversity of cultures and rich historical heritage, South Africa is a photographer’s paradise. Many South African photographers have been acclaimed for their work, which features in coffee-table books, documentaries, local and overseas exhibitions, magazines and newspapers.


South Africa has a rich architectural heritage, reflecting contributions from all the cultural groups in the country. Through the centuries, a unique trend has developed in South Africa’s architectural style, which has been referred to as an innovative marriage of traditions. This is evident in the variety of architectural structures found all over the country, ranging from humble dwellings, historical homesteads and public buildings, to modern, commercial buildings reflecting state-of-the-art technology and designs that match the best in the world.


South African beadwork, once the insignia of tribal royalty alone, has found a huge range of applications, from the creation of coverings for everything from bottles to matchboxes. With workplaces ranging from the pavements and markets of the big cities to dwellings in deep rural areas, South Africans produce a remarkable range of arts and crafts, including various forms of traditional artwork and innovative new products. These range from jewellery, tableware, home decorations, embroidery and key rings to skilfully crafted wooden engravings and wirework sculptures. In addition to the standard materials such as beads, grass, leather, fabric and clay, many other mediums are also used, including telephone wire, plastic bags, empty cans, bottle tops and even food tin labels, to create brightly coloured paper mâché bowls. Shops, markets and collectors dealing in African crafts provide much-needed employment and income to communities.


South Africa has a rich and diverse literary history, and the local literature sector has become globally competitive and the country’s writers continue to command respect throughout the world. South Africa commemorates the annual National Book Week (NBW) in September. It is an initiative of the South African Book Development Council, in collaboration with the DSAC. The NBW is an important initiative in encouraging the nation to value reading as a fun and pleasurable activity and to showcase how reading can easily be incorporated into one’s daily lifestyle. The commemoration coincides with International Literacy Day on 8 September. The NBW was celebrated from 2 to 8 September.

South African Literary Awards (SALA) 2020

The 15th SALA ceremony was held virtually on 7 November 2020. The winners were:

  • Children’s Literature Award: Niki Daly, It’s Jamela!
  • Youth Literature Award: Trevor Noah, Born A Crime, Edition for Young Readers.
  • First-time Published Author Award: Lize Albertyn-Du Toit, Die Kinders van Spookwerwe.
  • First-time Published Author Award: Trevor Sacks, Lucky Packet.
  • K Sello Duiker Memorial Award: Phumlani Pikoli, Born Free-Loaders.
  • Poetry Award: Marlise Joubert, Grondwater. • Poetry Award: Musawenkosi Khanyile, All The Places.
  • Creative Non-Fiction Award: Toni Strasburg, Holding the Fort.
  • Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award: Fred Khumalo, Talk of The Town.
  • Literary Journalism Award: Bongani Mavuso (Body of Work). • Novel Award: Fiona Snyckers, Lacuna.
  • Literary Translators Award: Refiloe Moahluli, YHEKE YANGA! Umdlali ka3 Toti uba yintshatsheli yeqakamba.
  • Posthumous Literary Award: Makhokolotso Albertina Mokhomo. • Chairperson’s Literary Awards: Recius Melato Malope (Body of Work).
  • Lifetime Achievement Literary Award: Gubudla Aaron Malindzisa (Body of Work).


The South African Government recognises the significant role played by the film sector in nation-building, promoting social cohesion, reconciliation and supporting economic growth and job creation. Government offers a package of incentives to promote its film production industry. The Foreign Film and Television Production incentive aims to attract foreignbased film productions to shoot on location in South Africa, and the South African Film and Television Production and Co-production incentive aims to assist local film producers in producing local content.

The South African Emerging Black Filmmakers incentive, a subprogramme of the South African Film and Television Production and Co-production Incentive, which aims to assist local emerging black filmmakers to nurture and grow them to take up big productions and thus contribute towards employment creation. The three largest film distributors in South Africa are Ster-Kinekor, United International Pictures and Nu-Metro. Ster-Kinekor has a specialised art circuit, called Cinema Nouveau, with theatres in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria.

Film festivals include the Durban International Film Festival; the North West Film Festival; the Apollo Film Festival in Victoria West; the Three Continents Film Festival (specialising in African, South American and Asian films); the Soweto Film Festival; and the Encounters Documentary Festival, which alternates between Cape Town and Johannesburg.


South Africa has more than 300 museums ranging from museums of geology, history, the biological sciences and the arts, to mining, agriculture, forestry and many other disciplines. The Nelson Mandela Museum in Soweto, Johannesburg had signed a partnership with Google to launch the Google Expedition that would provide a virtual tour of the museum.

National Library of South Africa (NLSA)

The NLSA is the custodian and provider of the nation’s key knowledge resources. Its collections contain a wealth of information sources, including rare manuscripts, books, periodicals, government publications, foreign official publications, maps, technical reports, and special interest material, including Africana and newspapers.

South African Library for the Blind (SALB)

The SALB is a statutory organisation located in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Its purpose is to provide, free of charge as far as is reasonably possible, a national library and information service to serve blind and print-handicapped readers in South Africa. It is partly state-funded and depends for the remainder of its financial needs on funds from the private sector and the general public. The SALB also produces documents in special media such as Braille, audio and tactile formats. It develops standards for the production of such documents and researches production methods and technology in the appropriate fields. To make library services more accessible, the SALB partners with 115 public libraries providing accessible reading material and assistive devices.

Blind SA

Blind SA, located in Johannesburg, provides services for blind and partially sighted individuals to uplift and empower them by publishing books, magazines and other documents in Braille. It equips blind people with the skills they need to fully and independently participate in society. This includes support in living without assistance, getting about, using technology, reading, working and socialising.


Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa