South African Government

Let's grow South Africa together

Sports, Arts and Culture

Role players
Programmes and projects
Major events
SA Sports Awards
Major sporting activities
Arts and Culture
Services rendered
Promoting and preserving heritage infrastructure
Community library services
Cultural  creative industries
Facilitating nation-building and social cohesion
New names of towns
Cultural development
National Heritage
Arts and culture organisations
Cultural tourism
SA Music Awards
Visual arts
Rock art
National Library of South Africa
Blind SA









Sports, Arts and Culture chapter in the Official Guide to South Africa 2018/2019Following the reconfiguration of government departments in June 2019, the new Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture is now responsible for the new Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC). This department arises from a merger between the Department of Sport and Recreation and the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC).

The department oversees the development, management and promotion of sports, arts and culture in South Africa. Its work to increase the accessibility of sport and recreation contributes to the achievement of the National Development Plan’s goals of nation-building, social cohesion and a healthy national lifestyle, and Outcome 14 (a diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity) of government’s 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework.

Role players

Boxing South Africa (BSA)

The 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 look 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 anti-doping 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.

In preparation for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games, ASA has squads comprising more than 300 athletes at senior, junior and youth level.

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.

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 well-being.

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 13th SASA ceremony was held in Bloemfotein, Free State in November 2018.

    The winners were:

    • Sportsman of the Year – Chad Le Clos.
    • Sportswoman of the Year – Caster Semenya.
    • Sportsman of the Year with a Disability – Ndodomzi Jonathan Ntutu.
    • People’s Choice Sports Star Award – Caster Semenya.
    • Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability – Anrune Liebenberg.
    • Team of the Year – Banyana Banyana.
    • Coach of the Year – Samuel Sepeng.
    • Volunteer of the Year – Linda Hlophe.
    • Newcomer of the Year – Tatjan Schoenmaker.
    • Indigenous Games Team of the Year – Morabaraba Team.
    • Photographer of the Year – Steve Haag.
    • Sports Journalist Year – Motshidisi Mohono.
    • National Federation of the Year – Softball.
    • Sport Administrator of the Year –Virginia Mabaso.
    • Recreation Body of the Year – Mavu Sport Development.
    • School Team of the Year – St Benedict’s College.
    • Developing School Team of the Year – Machakela- Mamodibo Secondary School.

    Major sporting activities

    Sporting codes

    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.

    Arts and Culture

    The then DAC has been contributing to sustainable economic development and enhancing job creation by preserving, protecting and developing South African arts, culture and heritage to sustain a socially cohesive and democratic nation.

    Its mandate was to:

    • preserve, develop, protect and promote the cultural, heritage and linguistic diversity and legacy of South Africa; lead nation-building and social cohesion through societal transformation;
    • enhance archives and records management structures and systems, and promote access to information; and provide leadership to the art and culture sector so as to accelerate its transformation.

    Chapters 9 and 15 of the NDP presents a vision for South Africa that entails improved education, and a transformed and united country. This vision is expressed in terms of Outcome 1 (quality basic education) and Outcome 14 (nation-building and social cohesion) of government’s 2014-2019 MTSF.

    Over the medium term, the department plans to focus on promoting and preserving heritage infrastructure, providing community library services, positioning the cultural and creative industries to contribute to economic growth, and facilitating social cohesion and nation-building.

     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 audio-visual 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 heraldicand related matters and provides financial assistance to institutions, boards, committees orother public bodies or persons in order to promote the functional objectives of the Bureauof 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 Department of Basic Education, the department also plans to build 70 dual library service points to support school curricula and enhance learning outcomes.

    Cultural and creative industries

    The Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) Strategy aims to optimise the economic potential of the arts, culture and heritage sector by creating jobs and contributing to inclusive economic growth, artist development, social cohesion and urban renewal.

    The strategy focuses on activities such as arts festivals, touring ventures, public art projects, artists in schools, and engagement in cultural and creative industries.

    Facilitating nation-building and social cohesion

    Through its Young Patriots and national youth service programmes, the department plans to support 300 young people per year over the medium term to become active promoters of national symbols, constitutional values and moral regeneration initiatives.

    Through this support, the department aims to give expression to Outcome 14 (nation building and social cohesion) of government’s 2014-2019 medium-term strategic framework.

    The Deputy President continues to lead the Moral Regeneration Movement, a civil-society organisation mandated to facilitate and coordinate processes and initiatives aimed at promoting collective activism on issues of moral renewal.

    The President will lead initiatives on national days, national orders and special events, and use them as platforms to promote nation-building and social cohesion.

    New names of towns

    The standardisation of geographical names is a process driven by the public and municipalities. 
    It culminates in the Minister of Arts and Culture approving or rejecting a recommendation for a name change from the SAGNC.

    The SAGNC Act of 1998 does not provide for the Minister and the SAGNC to directly initiate name changes.

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

    • Limpopo: Bela-Bela (formerly 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 NAB, which was launched in December 2017, at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein in the Free State, will provide the opportunity for South African artists to receive exposure locally as well as internationally. It features 54 artworks by 32 different artists from eight provinces.

    The main purpose of the NAB is to procure and curate South African art works and to lease the art works to government departments, its institutions and South African embassies around the world for a minimum period of two years.

    The NAB will further promote, support and supplement the income of contemporary South African artists.

    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.

    The United Nations declared 2019 as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Year of Indigenous Languages. Together with stakeholders, the department planned to host an international gathering on Promoting African Languages and African Literatures on International Translation Day, 30 September.

    Arts and culture organisations

    Some of the organisations which are playing an active role in upholding the mandate of the DAC 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:


    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, theater, 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) annualy 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 Festivalin 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 DAC 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 Department of Basic Education, 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 winners of the 24th annual SAMAs held at Sun City in North West on 2 June 2018 were:

    • Album of the Year: Shekhinah – Rose Gold.
    • Best Duo or Group of the Year: Mafikizolo – 20.
    • Best Newcomer of the Year: Shekhinah – Rose Gold.
    • Best Male Artist of the Year: Prince Kaybee – I am Music.
    • Best Female Artist of the Year: Shekhinah – Rose Gold.
    • Best Rock Album: Fokofpolisiekar – Selfmedikasie.
    • Beste Pop Album: Kurt Darren – Laat Die Dansvloer Brand.
    • Best Pop Album: Tresor – The Beautiful Madness.
    • Beste Kontemporere Musiek: Jo Black – Skepe.
    • Best Adult Contemporary Music: Wouter Kellerman and Soweto Gospel Choir – Symphonic Soweto.
    • Best African Adult Album: Siseko Pame – Ilanga.
    • Best Alternative Music Album: Bongeziwe Mabandla – Mangaliso.
    • Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album: Afrotraction – Relationships.
    • Best Hip Hop Album: Shane Eagle – Yellow.
    • Best Kwaito Album: Busiswa – Highly Flavoured.Best Dance Album: Lady Zamar – King Zamar.
    • Best Traditional Faith Music Album: Andile KaMajola – Andile KaMajola Chapter 8 Sekwanele.
    • Best Contemporary Faith Music Album: Nqubeko Mbatha – Heaven’s Ways.
    • Best Maskandi Album: Abafana Baka Mgqumeni – 6 to 6.
    • Best Jazz Album: Nduduzo Makhathini – Ikhambi.
    • Best Classic Instrumental Album: Charl du Plessis Trio – Baroqueswing Vol. III.
    • Best Live Audio Visual Recording: Donald – Red Mic Xperience.
    • Best Collaboration: Sun_EL Musician ft Samthing Soweto - Akanamali.
    • Best Music Video of the Year: Rouge – Arumtumtum.
    • Best Produced Album: Goldfish – Late Night People.
    • Best Engineered Album: Mafikizolo – 20.
    • Best Remix of the Year: Mobi Dixon – I got you.
    • Best Afro Pop Album: Mafikizolo – 20.
    • Best African Indigenous Gospel: Vuma Zion – Samson Aphi Amandla Akho.
    • Best African Artist: Simphiwe Dana – The Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience.
    • Best Selling Album of the Year: Joyous Celebration – Joyous Celebration Volume 21 Heal Our Land.
    • SAMPRA Highest Airplay Award: un-EL Musician ft Samthing Soweto – Akanamali.
    • Record of the Year: Distruction Boyz ft Benny Maverick & Dladla Mshunqisi – Omunye.
    • SAMPRA Highest Airplay Song of the Year: Sun-EL Musician ft Samthing Soweto – Akanamali.
    • SAMPRA Highest Airplay Composer’s Award: Sun-EL Musician ft Samthing Soweto – Akanamali.
    • CAPASSO Best Selling Digital Download Composer’s Award: Timothy Bambelela Myeni – Joyous Celebration Volume 21.

    The winners of the 25th annual SAMAs held on 31 May and 1 June 2019 at Sun City in North West were:

    • Best Traditional Album: Candy – Hupenyu Unenge Viri.
    • Best Traditional Faith Music Album: Spirit of Praise – Spirit of Praise Vol 7.
    • Beste Kontemporere Musiek Album: Coenie de Villiers – Pure Coenie.
    • Beste Pop Album: Snotkop: Sous.
    • Capasso Best Selling Digital Download Composers Award: Joyous Celebration 22 – All for you: Lindelani Mkhize, Mnqobi Nxumalo, Siphiwe Ngcobo, Thobeka Mahlangu.
    • Collaboration of the Year: Black Coffee feat. David Guetta and Delilah Montagu – Drive.
    • Duo/Group of the Year: Black Motion – Moya Wa Taola.
    • Female Artist of the Year: Sho Madjozi.
    • Lifetime Achievement Award: HHP, TKZEE and Mango Groove.
    • Male Artist of the Year: Black Coffee – Music is King.
    • Music Video of the Year: Jeremy Loops – Gold by Robert Smith.
    • Newcomer of the Year: Sho Madjozi – Limpopo Champions League.
    • Record of the Year: Holly Rey – Deeper.
    • Remix of the Year: Zakwe – Sebentin by Cassper Nyovest, HHP, Blaklez, Kwesta and Musiholiq.
    • Rest of Africa Artist: Diamond Platnumz – A Boy from Tandale.
    • SAMPRA Highest Airplay Song of the Year: Lady Zamar – Collide.
    • SAMRO Composers Highest Airplay Award: Lady Zamar – Collide.
    • Album of the Year: Sjava – Umqhele.
    • Best Adult Contemporary Album: Ard Matthews – Impossible Machines.
    • Best African Adult Contemporary Album: Nathi – Iphupha Labantu.
    • Best African Indigenous Faith Album: Ithimba Le Africa – Sesiphunyukile.
    • Best Afro Pop Album: Sjava – Umqhele.
    • Best Alternative Album: Nakhane – You Will Not Die.
    • Best Contemporary Faith Music Album: We Will Worship – Seasons Volume 1.
    • Best Dance Album: Black Motion – Moya Wa Taola.
    • Best Engineered Album: Vusi Nova – Manyan-nyan by Robin Walsh.
    • Best Hip Hop Album: Nasty C – Strings N Bling.
    • Best Jazz Album: Bokani Dyer Trio – Neo Native.
    • Best Kwaito/Gqom/Amapiano: Spikiri – King Don Father.
    • Best Live Audio Visual Recording: Cassper Nyovest – Fill up Orlando Stadium – Robin Kohl.
    • Best Maskandi Album: Sgwebo Sentambo – Yekani Umona.
    • Best Pop Album: Tresor – Nostalgia.
    • Best Produced Album: Nasty C – Strings and Bling.
    • Best RnB/Soul Album: Zonke – L.O.V.E.
    • Best Reggae Album: Black Dillinger – Mavara is King.
    • Best Rock Album: Dan Patlansky – Perfection Kills.
    • Best Selling Artist: Joyous Celebration 22.
    • Best Selling DVD: Joyous Celebration 22.


    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.

    Reading statistics report that only 14% of the South African population are active book readers, and a mere 5% of parents read to their children.

    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. In 2019, the commemoration coincided with International Literacy Day on 8 September. The NBW was celebrated from 2 to 8 September.

    South African Literary Awards (SALA) 2018

    The 13th SALA ceremony was held in Pretoria on 6 November 2018. The winners were:

    • First-time Published Author Award: Malebo Sephodi (Miss Behave).
    • Creative Non-Fiction Award: Jurgen Schadeburg (The Way I See It).
    • Poetry Award: Kelwyn Sole (Walking, Falling).
    • Chairperson’s Award: Peter Magubane, for his body of work.
    • Lifetime Achievement Literary Award: Ronnie Kasrils and Hermann Giliomee, for their body of work.
    • Posthumous Literary Award: Leon Roussow and SM Mofokeng, for their body of work.
    • Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award: Nick Mulgrew (The First Law of Sadness) and Nicole Jaekel Strauss (As In Die Mond).
    • Literary Journalism Award: Sam Mathe, for his body of work.
    • National Poet Laureate Prize:Mongane Wally Serote, for his body of work.
    • Children’s Literature Award: Jaco Jacobs (Daar’s Nie ‘N Krokodil In Hierdie Boek Nie/Moenie Hierdie Boek Eet Nie).
    • Literary Translators Award: Peter Tshobisa Mtuze and Jeff Opland (Umoya Wembongi: Collected Poems 1922 – 1935) by John Solilo and Iziganeko Zesizwe: Occasional Poems (1900-1943) by S.E.K. Mqhayi.


    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 foreign-based 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 sub-programme 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
    • North West Film Festival
    • Apollo Film Festival in Victoria West
    • Three Continents Film Festival (specialising in African, South American and Asian films)
    • Soweto Film Festival
    • 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.

    In December 2018, Cabinet approved the Policy Framework on National Museums, which aims is to transform the management and operations of museums in terms of access, redress, equity, nation-building and social cohesion.

    The policy proposes the clustering of museums into new management structures to achieve economies of scale by reducing the number of councils. It also provides for the grading of all the museums according to qualities, scope and significance to enable equitable funding allocations.

    National Library of South Africa (NLSA)

    The NLSA is a 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 LIS 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.

    In 2019, the SALB celebrated its centenary and in March 2019 produced a book called South African Library for the Blind – a Diary of the Library, which provides a historical account of the 100-year history.

    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: Official Guide to South Africa

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