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Facts and figures: South Africa

South Africa – the rainbow nation has a population of 58 million (2018), of which 28.5% – roughly 16,5 million are children aged 0-15). 79% of the population are black africanc, 9,6% white adn the remaining 11.4% couloureds of indian or asian origin. South Africa is surrounding the kingdom of Lesotho and is bordering Nambia, Botswana and Zimbambwe to the north and Mosambique to the east. In the country’s nine provinces eleven offical languages are to be found.9 Bantu-languages, Afrikaans and English. The linguistic diversity mirrors the diverse cultures of ehtnicies such as Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho; Swathi or Ndebele.

History and Scociety

After colonialization by the Dutch Boers in the 17th century the first all encompassing structures of Apartheid were built at the beginning oft he 20th century under then British colonial rule. The many and dark chapters of segregation of black and white, the ruthless political and individual incapacitation of the black and coloured population, the fight against apartheid and finally the effort of overthrowing and overcoming this inhuman system are deeply engrained into South Africa’s DNA. The country’s particular history has produced a deeply traumatized society, and a vivid culture of standing up and fighting for your rights. The Aids Activists of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) – founded 1998 and one of the worlds, biggest, most combative and most effective HIV/Aids Activist groups – tapped efficiently into this heritage.

HIV and Aids

19% of all HIV-postive people worldwide live in South Africa. The rainbow nation furthermor records 15% of all new HIV-infections globally and 11% of all the deaths due to Aids. The scale and true meaning of these figures reveals itself when considering that South Africa’s population actually is only just 0.75% of the global population.

National overall prevalence rate lies at 18.9% – globally one of the highest rates. However, women in the age bracket 15-49 still bear the brunt: their prevalence rate is 23,8%. South Africa has to care for an estimated 19,9-2.4 Aids orphans. Aids is also mirrored by the average life expectancy: it is a mere 50 years( Source: National Institute of Ageing, US-Census Bureau). A particularly tragical factor was the reluctance of Thabo Mbeki’s governement to acknowledge the reason for Aids as HIV and roll out treatment programs. Instead his government favoured the Aids denialists and advised people to eat beetroot and garlic. The reluctance to face HIV/Aids in its full complexity cost millions of lives, orphand millionsof children and caused considerable economic stress. And it has seeped deeply into the population –the outgoing president Jacob Zuma’s refusal to acknowledge his own sexual risky behaviour is just one of the many manifestations of ongoing denial.

Culture of Violence

Sexual violence against women is widespread in South Africa. The South African Medical Research Council found that four in ten men admit to using violence against their partners or spouses. And more than 25% confess one or more rape.(Source: R. Jewker, understanding men’s health and use of violence, interface of rape and HIV in South Africa).

Economy and Education

South Africa is a wealthy country. It is rich in commodities such as rare earths, gold, diamonds and coal. It ist he biggest producer of platinum, gold and chromium. However, there is an incredibly income, wealth and education gap threatening to tear the country apart. 50% of the population live in utter poverty in slums and informal settlements as well as in rural areas. With 27.1% South Africa has one of the highest overall unenmployment rates globally. Youth unemployment rate lies at 53.3%. Spendings for education are 5,4% of the GDP.


January 2018