Gallery: South Africa’s rich and colourful heritage

Compiled by Mary Alexander

As we celebrate Heritage Month in South Africa, we bring you a selection of photography celebrating the diversity of the country’s many and varied cultures, traditions and customs.

All photos are copyright Brand South Africa and may be used free of charge for editorial purposes, on condition that Brand South Africa is credited.


IMC-EC0-00415GYoung Xhosa girl with traditional face paint in the village of Mooiplaas in the Eastern Cape.

IMC-EC0-00418GDancing teenage girls in traditional Xhosa clothing in the village of Mooiplaas, Eastern Cape.

IMC-EC0-00420GA man wearing traditional Xhosa adornments in the Kei River Mouth region of the Eastern Cape.

IMC-EC0-00432GA traditional craftsman makes acoustic guitars in his workshop in the village of Morgan Bay on the Eastern Cape coast.

IMC-EC0-00433GChildren make music with a guitar and traditional drums in a cottage in the seaside village of Port St Johns, Eastern Cape.

IMC-EC0-00436GBeautifully patterned Nguni cattle on the beach at the mouth of the Kei River in the Wild Coast region of the Eastern Cape.

IMC-EC0-00448GHusband and wife at home in Kei Mouth on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape.

IMC-FS0-00028GA football fan wearing an elaborate makarapa – a reworked and decorated plastic construction helmet – at a match at Mangaung Stadium in Bloemfontein in the Free State.

IMC-FS0-00037GA football fan all dressed up to support Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national football team, at a match at Mangaung Stadium in Bloemfontein in the Free State.

IMC-FS0-00116GA man in traditional dress playing an accordion at the Basotho Cultural Village in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Free State.

IMC-FS0-00117GA choir of women sing traditional songs at the Basotho Cultural Village in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Free State.

IMC-GAU-00623GSchoolchildren look at an exhibit of decommissioned weapons at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.

IMC-GAU-00662GA child peeks from behind a foosball table in a township community centre in Gauteng.

IMC-GAU-00665GFriends enjoying an evening out at a shebeen – informal township tavern – in Vosloorus, eastern Gauteng.

IMC-KZN-00245GAn Indian South African mother and daughter in their shop in the Victoria Street market in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. A popular tourist attraction, the market offers Indian food, spices, material, clothes and trinkets.

IMC-KZN-00263GA dancer in traditional gear at Shakaland, a Zulu cultural village in the town of Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal.

IMC-KZN-00264GA girl child wearing traditional beadwork at Shakaland, a Zulu cultural village in the town of Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal.

IMC-KZN-00275GFriday prayers at Juma Masjid Mosque, the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere, in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Completed in 1927, the mosque is a spiritual centre for the local Muslim community.

IMC-KZN-00279GA regular sight in Durban: rickshaw drivers clad in colourful traditional Zulu gear, heavily beaded outfits and horned headdresses.

IMC-MPU-00717GA teenage girl outside a colourful homestead painted in the traditional Ndebele geometric style, in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga.

IMC-MPU-00725GA craftsman selling traditional carved and painted wooden birds in the old-style mining village of Pilgrim’s Rest, a popular tourist attraction in the province of Mpumalanga.

IMC-MPU-00707GA musician playing the saxophone at the Barnyard Lowveld at the Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. This live music and entertainment venue has established a volunteer-run performing arts development programme to nurture community talent.

IMC-NC0-00522GA friendly greeting from one of the locals in Upington in the Northern Cape.

IMC-NC0-00541GA traditional San Bushman hunter looks out across the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape.

IMC-NC0-00559GA Nama woman wearing the traditional patterned dress and distinctive bonnet (or kappie) missionaries brought to the Namakwa region of today’s Northern Cape in the 1800s. Pella, Northern Cape.

IMC-NC0-00561GA Nama woman poses in traditional gear – white apron over her patterned dress and cloth bonnet and headscarf adding the final touch – inside her traditional Nama dwelling, known as a matjiehuis in Afrikaans or !haru oms in the Nama language. Pella, Northern Cape.

IMC-NC0-00677GA farmer with a Merino , a type of sheep bred for meat and wool that thrives in harsh, dry conditions such as those found in the Northern Cape.

IMC-NC0-00537GA boy with his handmade toy wire car in Askham, a village in the Red Kalahari Desert region of the far Northern Cape.

IMC-NW0-00023GMembers of the Matsosangwao Culture Group in Rustenburg, North West. They are one of the many groups in the region who meet every day after school to practice their traditional dance routines.

IMC-WC0-00095GA woman selling freshly cut flowers – including fynbos species such as king and pincushion proteas – in Adderley Street, Cape Town. Generations of flower sellers from the same families have run stalls at the Adderley Street market for over 100 years.

IMC-WC0-00097GA traditional small-scale fisherman at the harbour in the village of Hout Bay, which lies on the Atlantic coast of the Cape peninsula, south of Cape Town.

IMC-WC0-00098GChildren in the Cape Town suburb of Bo-Kaap, at the foot of Signal Hill. Well-known for its colourfully painted houses, Bo-Kaap is the traditional home of the Cape Malay Muslim community.

IMC-WC0-00286GFabulously dressed and adorned music groups known as Cape Minstrels perform at Cape Town’s annual carnival every year.