Hayes family of South Africa

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Hayes family pages - South Africa

We live in Pretoria, South Africa, which you can see on the map below. Pretoria is now the central part of the megacity of Tshwane.


South Africa

MAPPretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa, and is in Gauteng province, about 60 km (35 miles) north of Johannesburg, which is the biggest city, and the provincial capital. Gauteng is a northern Sotho word, meaning "place of gold", and the province is called that for the obvious reason that there are lots of gold mines in it, though they are all in the southern part.

South Africa has a democratic government, but it hasn't always been like that. Our first democratic elections were held in 1994. Before that, our form of government could best be described as a race oligarchy, and it was a pretty dictatorial one at that. The previous government's policy of rigid racial segregation, called apartheid (pronounced "a part hate") made South Africa notorious all over the world. Well, it's gone now, but cleaning up the mess it left will take quite a while. We still have problems, of course - poverty, crime, unemployment and so on. But almost every country in the world has such problems.

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African National Congress

ANCThe African National Congress (ANC) is the ruling party, which gained over 60% of the votes in the 1994 elections, and was reelected in 1999. The ANC Web site is worth a look if you would like to know more about South African politics and policies. The ANC started in 1912 - the same year as the National Party, which ruled South Africa from 1948 to 1994, and on several occasions before that. The ANC was banned from 1960 to 1990, and many of its members and supporters were imprisoned.

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South Africa's first democratic elections, in April 1994, were quite an exciting affair. It was the first time most of the population had been aloowed to have a say in choosing the national and provincial governments. Some parties refused to participate in the election, or in the process of drawing up an interim constitution for holding the election, and so there was almost a civil war. The biggest of these, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), changed its mind a week before the election, and special stickjers had to be printed to put on the ballot papers, which had already been printed.

The second election, in June 1999, was tame by comparison. One intersting result was that more representatives of smaller parties were elected, so there should be a greater variety of opinion in parliament than there has ever been before.

Freedom and democracy in South Africa were not won without a struggle, however. It was a struggle in which many different people and organisations played different roles. For some glimpses of what things were like in the old South Africa, with an oppressive and authoritarian government, which suppressed opposition, you can read about the banned waggon.

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South African culture

A slogan used to describe South Africa has been "many cultures, one nation". It's impossible to describe more than a tiny part of the culture. One "art form" that can give one an insight into culture is the TV commercial. Advertising agencies try to find out what makes people tick, and what makes people watch TV so they can attract people to their ads. And sometimes the programming is so poor that we only rush to watch TV when a new commercial comes on.

Nando'sI can't show you a South African TV commercial, but perhaps the next best thing is the Web site of one of the advertisers whose commercials get watched more than most, so get a load of this! Just click your browser on the icon, and download Nandoscape now! Nando's sells fried chicken that is squashed flat, and looks as though it had been run over by a 26-wheeler truck. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Nando's.

During the 1999 election campaign, when every lamp post was adorned with posters showing the ugly mugs of politicians, Nandos had posters with slogans like "Try the beloved poultry" and "Had enough of bull? Try chicken." Their trucks have things like "Poultry in motion" and "The X-fowls" painted on the sides

Newspaper cartoons and comic strips can also give something of the flavour of a country, or at least of certain segments of society. One of those that does this is Madam and Eve, which is peculiar to the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

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South African accents

South Africa has 11 official languages, and several other non-official ones are widely spoken. There are thus many different accents, depending on the home language of the speaker. But South Africans whose first language is English have a fairly distinctive accent, which is sometimes difficult to describe to people who live in other parts of the world.

I've compiled a few sound file samples in case anyone in knowing how some words are pronounced by English-speaking South Africans. You'll find them on the South African English page.

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We've lived in the Greater Pretoria area since 1983. Pretoria one of the three capitals of South Africa. It has an ideal climate, and some of the most aggressive drivers in the country. In a recent reaarangement of local government, Pretoria, along with two other towns, Akasia/Soshanguve and Centurion, has become part of a much larger city called Tshwane.


Steve and Val Hayes were born in Durban, in KwaZulu/Natal province. The atmosphere there is generally a bit more laid-back than Gauteng, but it has been plagued by a lot of political violence over the last 10 years or so.

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The bad old days

South Africa has only recenly got a democratic constitution and a bill of rights. Before 1994 it was known for its oppressive government, and the policy of apartheid, which lead to the ethnic cleansing of some 3-4 million people.

Having a democratically elected government does not mean that all problems are instantly solved, and South Africans, like people in other countries, often complain about the problems of the present. With unemployment, poverty, homelessness, a lot of violent crime, and an epidemic of Aids, there is plenty to complain about. But when we look at the problems of the past, and where we have come from, there is a great deal more to be thankful for. At the next general election, many of the first-time voters will hardly remember the apartheid era. But sometimes it is good to look back, and see where we have come from.

Each person will have experienced the past differently, and each one's experience is only a small part of the whole, nevertheless, I think it is worth recording, to show a little of what it was like. So I'm compiling some memory pages, as snapshots of the past, and will add to them as I get time.

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Links to Web pages of other South Africans

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While you're here, have a look at some of our other pages:

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This page maintained by Steve Hayes

Created: 28 May 2006 Updated: 20 June 2013