5 words to know before your holidays in Cape Town

It’s decided, you’re coming to South Africa and Cape Town for your next holidays! Excellent choice!
In addition to meet interesting people, discover a new culture you might learn new words. To be well-prepared, here are 5 South African words to know before your holidays in Cape Town.

1. Ubuntu

Steming from the Bantu philosophy, Ubuntu is a concept close to fraternity and humanity that can be summarised by the sentence “I am what I am because of who we all are”. This notion was a basic in the way of thinking of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and many others for the reconciliation after the Apartheid.

“It speaks of the very essence of being human… you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, ‘My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life.”
Desmond Tutu

2. Braai


Braai is a common word in South Africa and some other coutries around. It is an Afrikkans word simply meaning barbecue. South Africans love these moments of sharing with family or friends, espacially with a local handcrafted cool beer in hand. So, don’t be surprise if you are invited to a Braai, it is a good thing!

The Heritage Day, celebrating each September 24 the South African culture and diversity even also became the “Braai Day” (or Braai4Heritage). It shows how much this custom is a part of the daily life.

3. Biltong


To stay in the food category, Biltong is a cured and dried meat, most often spiced. It can be beef, springbok, kudu, ostrich and many others taste. South African people serve this speciality at cocktail hours or eat it as a snack during the day. All supermarkets sell Biltong but you will find the best ones at a butcher shop. Do not hesitate to try it during your stay, and you can even do it with a glass of South African wine, delicious!

For the history part, Biltong was created during the beginning of 19th century and the Great Trek period, when settlers descendants migrated to the North and North-East of the country, away from the Cape Colony. After the hunt, the meat not immediately eaten was dried to be used during the journey. Full of protein, it still has its place in the backpack of a traveller.

4. City Bowl


The City Bowl is the name given to the City Centre of Cape Town. As shown on the picture, it looks like a bowl or a basin surrounded by the mountains: Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. The City Bowl hosts the Central Business District (CBD), located not far from Long Street, which is well-named! It is the heart of the city, where people meet, especially thanks to the numerous restaurants, bars and clubs giving a warm atmosphere at nightfall.

A bit further, near GreenMarket Square (ideal place to buy souvenirs) and Compagny’s Garden (perfect area to have some rest and play with squirrels) are located most of the museums and historical buildings. Cape Town is a modern city but which also protect its roots and heritage.

5. Rooibos

Traditional healthy red african rooibos tea in glass cup with spices on vintage table background

In Afrikaans, Rooibos means “Red Bush”. It is a plant growing is the Fynbos, the South African typical vegetation, especially found at the North of Cape Town. It is used to produce infusions drunk all around the world and often wrongly called “red tea“, whereas it doesn’t contain theine. Here, the tradition demands that we add a drop of milk before drinking it.
In South Africa, this fine product is very much used and can also be found in the bathroom for soaps or lotions.


As you can read, a lot of words come from Afrikaans, still commonly spoken by a part of the population and one of the 11 official languages in South Africa.
Here are basics to speak this language coming from Dutch and includind some words in Portuguese, German or Khoisan.


English Afrikaans
Hello Hallo
Goodbye Totsiens
Please Asseblief
Thank You Dankie
You’re Welcome Dis’n plesier
Yes / No Ja / Nee