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Kids Culture Corner

South Africa

Do you know the capital of South Africa? View the map!

Do you know what South Africa's flag looks like? Play color the flag!

Many different languages are spoken in South Africa because it is a country made up of many different cultures. Here is a familiar rhyme in both English and Afrikaans, one of the languages spoken in South Africa.

Tik-tik-tak, Tak-tak-tik, Tok! (Afrikaans)
Tik-tik-tak, tak-tak-tik, tok!
Die muis spring op die klok;
Die klok slaan een,
O waar nou heen,
Tik-tik-tak, tak-tak-tik, tok.

Hickory, Dickory, Dock (English)
Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down.
Hickory, dickory, dock.

Nelson Mandela was born in July 1918. He trained as a lawyer and worked for the freedom of his people. After 18 years in jail for traveling outside of the country illegally, he was released, and not long after became the first elected President of South Africa. See our seasonal calendar for more information.

Try these delicious South African recipes


  • 1 lb cooked mince (ground beef - with onion in oil or butter, salt and pepper and one tablespoon tomato paste for flavor - parsley)
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 slice bread soaked in milk
  • 1 tablespoon curry (paste or powder - I use paste)
  • 1/4 cup coconut (not sweet) or almonds
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Apricot jam or 1 dessert spoon honey
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 eggs


Fry the onions in butter and add curry - allow to become darker. Beat the eggs and milk together. Add lemon juice into curry then Apricot jam, coconut, bread & vinegar. Add mince beef and one third of milk & egg mixture. Bake for ten minutes in pyrex dish uncovered at 325 F. Then pour over the balance of milk & egg mixture and leave in oven until brown.

Submitted by Casey and Amy , Massachusetts 2004


  • Sauté 1 large diced onion and 2 diced green peppers in 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • Add 4 large peeled and grated carrots, fresh coriander and 1 can beans in ketchup (baked beans)
  • Optional: add a bag of mixed frozen vegetables or cut-up fresh cauliflower
  • add 1 C chicken or vegetable stock, or more if needed to keep the mixture from sticking to the pot
  • Cook 15 minutes
  • add 4 teaspoons curry powder and cook another 15 minutes.
  • Can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Serve with Mealie Pap (Corn meal Pudding)
Mealie Pap Ingredients

  • 2 C water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 C maize meal
  • 1 Tablespoon margarine


  1. Bring the water to the boil. Slowly add the maize meal until it forms a pyramid in the middle of the saucepan .
  2. Put on the lid and allow to simmer until a "skin" has formed around the maize meal.
  3. Stir with a fork till fine and crumbly. Put the lid back on and simmer over LOW heat until done.
  4. Stir occasionally to break the lumps, about 30 - 40 minutes.

submitted by Princess, staff member at Mvaba High School, Inanda, South Africa


  • large chicken-cut into pieces
  • 1 cup breyani dhall (Lentils)
  • 4-6 potatoes
  • 3-4 cups rice
  • 7-8 medium tomatoes
  • few green chillies
  • 1 large onion
  • 1-2 tblesp chilli powder
  • 1-2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp jeera powder
  • 1 tsp cummin powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 125ml oil (1/2 C)
  • 1 tsp ginger -crushed
  • 1 tsp garlic -crushed
  • egg yellow food colouring
  • herbs-eg thyme,mint etc-
  • salt to taste
  • cubed pieces of butter


Half cook the rice. add few drops food colouring{3/4 drops} Boil breyani dhall{lentils} till soft make the chutney-add half cup oil to large pan-when hot-add onions and green chillies-when brown-add chilli power, tumeric, jeera, cummin, cinnamon, and bayleaves then add the grated tomatoes and ginger and garlic salt and let it cook for about 15-20 min till water evapourates. Add some food colouring to potatoes and roast. Add salt to chicken and fry pieces in shallow oil. Then when all is ready -make the layers for your breyani:


  1. rice(half of the quantity)
  2. chutney-pour over the rice
  3. place pieces of fried chicken on top
  4. cover with breyani dhall
  5. place potatoes all around
  6. add balance of rice
  7. place cubed butter all around top
  8. returned to stove and cook for 15 minutes on low
  9. heat-test rice-when rice is soft-remove from heat.

Serve hot with salads-green or carrot.

Submitted by Elizabeth, South Africa, au pair in Massachusetts 2004


  • 1 whole chicken [medium] cut into pieces
  • 2/3 large potatoes-cut into halves-or fours
  • 1 small tomato-chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small onions-chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder or 2/3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 125 ml (1/2 C) oil
  • 250 ml water (1 C) {add more if needed}
  • 1 tablespoon salt-or add accordingly
  • fresh corriander for dressing.


  1. Heat oil in large pot.
  2. add onions, cummin powder, cinnamon, bayleaves. fry until onions are golden brown.
  3. Add curry powder, tumeric powder, potatoes and chicken pieces. Mix well.
  4. Add water and allow to cook.
  5. curry is ready when potatoes are cooked and curry has thickened. sprinkle chopped corriander on top of curry.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside-

Serve hot with rice {eg.basmati} and salad.
serve with Mealie Pap (Cornmeal Pudding)

Submitted by Elizabeth , South African au pair, Massachusetts 2004


  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 625 ml (2 1/2 cups) white sugar
  • 12.5 ml (2 1/2 tsp.) lemon juice
  • 5 ml (1 tsp.) vanilla essence


  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) cake flour
  • 22 ml (4 1/2 tsp.) baking powder
  • 1 ml (pinch) salt
  • 20 g butter
  • 150 ml (1/2 Cup + 1 Tablespoon) milk
  • 750 ml (3 cups) canola oil

  • Dough

    1. Put the water and sugar in a pot and bring to boil on low heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla essence. Put the pot aside.
    2. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder thoroughly in a mixing bowl. Break the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Add the milk. Mix well until a dough is formed.
    3. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 5 mm (1/4 in.). Cut the dough into thin ( 10 mm or 1/2 in.) strips. Take 3 strips and join their ends on one side. Braid the strips to desired koeksister length and join the other ends.
    4. Heat the oil in a pot until fairly hot. Put about 3 koeksisters at a time in the oil and fry them on both sides until they get a golden-brown color. As you remove the koeksisters from the oil, place them directly into the syrup. Allow the koeksisters to absorb the syrup thoroughly. Remove the koeksisters from the syrup and allow the excess syrup to drip off. Place them in the refrigerator. Try to eat a few before the family gets home because once they get stuck into them, you "ain't gonna get none".

    Submitted by Casey and Amy, Massachusetts 2004

    (makes 2 tarts)


    • 2 cups Flour
    • 1/2 cup Sugar
    • 125g (4 oz or 1/2 C) Margarine
    • 1 Egg
    • Salt
    • 2 tsp Baking Powder

    Cream margarine and sugar. Add egg, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well, and press into 2 pie dishes. Bake for 10 minutes at 320 F (160 C). (Or buy two readymade pie bases - preferrably the shortbread type.)


    • 4 cups Milk
    • 2 tbsp Margarine
    • 2 1/2 tbsp Flour
    • 1 cup Sugar
    • 1 tbsp Cornflour
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence

    Boil milk and margarine. Mix the rest of ingredients into a smooth paste in a bowl and add to boiling milk. Return to heat and stir until thick (about 5 minutes). Pour into shells and sprinkle with cinnamon. Put in the fridge.

    Submitted by Casey and Amy, Massachusetts 2004

    Try playing this South African handball game!

    The rainmaking holiday is on October 22. Rainmaking is one of the most important festivals in many parts of Africa. Unlike most rainmakers, who are men, the rainmaker of the Lovedu people is their queen, whom they call "The Transformer of the Clouds." They believe she can create rain and change the seasons.

    When rain is needed, her advisors tell her that "the people are crying" and bring her gifts. Then she uses the secret medicines of her rain pot, invokes the help of her ancestors, and consults an expert in weather lore. The entire tribe may dance until rain begins.

    A Folk Tale from South Africa
    Marvin's Good Deed

    It was a chilly winter's day, but fortunately the sun was shining. The troop of monkeys had climbed to the top of a large tree and was sitting up in the canopy, soaking up the sun's rays and trying to thaw out from the equatorial chill.

    After a while, the younger monkeys became bored and decided they wanted to play.
    They started to scramble through branches and chase one another. They were having such fun. Marvin was a naughty little monkey that liked to show off, but he had a kind heart. He was busy swinging from branch to branch when he came across a bird's nest. Inside were three delicious looking eggs. As Marvin put his hand into the nest to grab one, he heard a cry.

    "No, please Master Monkey, leave my eggs alone!" shrieked a worried Mrs. Bird.
    "But I want to eat the eggs!" shouted Marvin.
    "I know," said Mrs. Bird "but I've been incubating them and they're due to hatch soon. I can't wait to see my little chicks. Please leave them alone and then one day I may be able to help you."

    Marvin hesitated, but decided that he would leave the eggs alone. He forgot about the incident and continued with his monkey business in other trees.

    A few months later, the troop of monkeys was having barrels of fun trying to catch termites that were emerging from a termite mound on the savannah. The monkeys leaped down to try and catch the tasty morsels as they exited their mound. If the young monkeys were successful, they would shove the tasty insect into their mouth and crunch on it.

    The monkeys were so intent on the termites, that they didn't realize that they were in grave danger. A spotted leopard was inching up on them, hoping to catch a monkey for dinner that evening. The leopard was crouched low, stalking closer and closer towards the troop of monkeys. Just then Mrs. Bird happened to be kiting overhead and noticed the leopard. She yelled down to the monkey, "There's a dangerous leopard! Run for your lives!"

    Marvin and the other monkeys leaped to safety just in time. Mrs. Bird had saved their lives. Marvin thought back to the eggs he had spared and realized that the good deed had been returned.

    Submitted by the following South African au pairs living in Massachusetts, 2004
    Sarah Ryley
    Taryn Jerrier
    Nonjabulo Ngcobo

    "The flexibility the program affords us is outstanding. With other child care options, I always felt I was accommodating their schedule instead of my own."

    Jill, host parent
    New Jersey

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