Feast of the Lions: Who Creates South Africa’s Pop Culture Feast of the Lions: Who Creates South Africa’s Pop Culture

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Feast of the Lions: Who Creates South Africa’s Pop Culture



Little is known about the lives of South Africans. “Nelson Mandela, apartheid and that guy, the Paralympian who shot his girlfriend, mistaking her for a robber, Die Antwoord and paris sportif en ligne senegal. That’s usually where the knowledge of Africa’s southernmost point ends.


We decided to find out who creates South African pop culture and its place in the world.


We did not aim to list all the cultural figures of the Republic of South Africa, but we noted the most large-scale or non-obvious phenomena.

Roger Ballen (photographer)

“My God, who’s going to come and watch this? Do you like these pictures?” – with emphasis on “this” and “these,” an elderly gallery keeper asked visitors to Roger Ballen’s exhibit. She was understandable. To the conservative and pedantic person who was raised in academic culture, Ballen’s work might seem unpleasant, to say the least.


Sick homeless people, half-dead birds, mutilated animals, people with mental illnesses… Welcome to the nightmare. More precisely – in the land of shadows by Roger Ballen. In his works, the American consistently reveals the darkest sides of human nature, without fear of getting his hands or reputation dirty.


Roger Ballen is a South African more in spirit than in birthplace. He was born in New York, where he was trained as a geologist. At the age of 23, he left to travel the world and, after a year and a half in South Africa, published his first photo album. He returned to the U.S., but did not last long in the stone jungle and left again for his big South African trip.


Ballen now lives and works in Johannesburg, although he exhibits in galleries around the world. By the way, Die Antwoord owes something to Ballen for their style. He even helped the musicians with the decorations for their first music video Enter the Ninja and took part in the shooting of I Fink U Freeky.

Seether (post-grunge band)

South African post-grunge bands Seether are frequent guests in Moscow. They come to Moscow almost every year, and not only with a heavy program, but also with acoustic evenings.


At present, the musicians live in the USA but they confess that they “will always be South Africans at heart”.


“The whole environment, the culture that I grew up in – everything is different here, it’s not like anywhere else. And the memory of that, the feeling that this country is yours, is deep inside, in your genes, I guess,” said Seether bassist Dale Stewart.


When asked why they left South Africa, the musicians say that you can’t get anything serious there.


“Besides, the U.S., of course, has a higher standard of living, less crime. South Africa, unfortunately, is sinking lower every day. Crime is on the rise, a lot of other problems. It’s tough. Coming home now would not be easy,” adds Stewart.

The Awakening (gothic rock band)

The Awakening leader Ashton Nyte refers to their musical style as a dark future rock. To us, it seems like classic – even pedantic – gothic rock. Self-confident, made by all canons, but boring. Nothing new – we have seen all this many times. But it’s worth a listen for general development, especially for lovers of the genre who are tired of The 69 Eyes but yearn for the black angels of their beardless youth.

Jack Parow (rapper)

Jack Parow is a rapper from Cape Town, one of the apostles of zef. He has collaborated with many artists, including Die Antwoord (Wat Pomp and Doos Dronk).


Zef is an exclusively South African cultural phenomenon. It’s luxe but geared towards the poor middle class. The zef style is anti chic, luxury for the poor. In general, if you’re zef, it means, as Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord said, you’re “poor but cool, poor but sexy, poor but in style.”


Some critics think Jack Parow is not zef, but the musician himself claims otherwise.

Soweto Gospel Choir (gospel choir)

Gospel, spiritual Christian music, is a unique phenomenon that gave this world blues, funk, and rock and roll. Gospel was born in the Methodist churches of the American South and actively developed in the first third of the 20th century. South Africa’s most popular gospel choir is the Soweto Gospel Choir, formed in Soweto. It is a settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg where the black population was forced to go during apartheid.


Soweto Gospel Choir began in 2002, and a year later won several prestigious awards. Its recordings hit high positions in the charts and have had good commercial success. Interestingly, the choir sings in six of the eleven official languages of the region. During the 13 years of its existence, they have performed with Peter Gabriel, Dinah Ross, Mariah Carey, Tina Turner, and other popular performers. The choir members turn every performance into a colorful spectacle – national costumes, dancing, and impeccable sound.

Joseph Kutzey (writer)

South African writer Joseph Kutzey is the winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature. The writer has also won the Booker Prize twice, for the novel The Life and Times of Michael K. and the novel Dishonor. Coetzee is perhaps the most famous South African writer. His books can be easily found in bookstores.


All his life Kutzey has actively opposed the policy of apartheid, defends animal rights, and adheres to vegetarianism.


Joseph Kutzey now lives in Australia.

“District 9” (film)

“District 9.” – is a South African sci-fi action film that was released in 2009 and grossed over $210 million at the worldwide box office.


The picture about how aliens who suffered an accident are driven into the ghetto in Johannesburg was nominated for an Oscar in four categories at once. Among them, it was nominated for Best Picture.


It was directed by South African director Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, who had directed “Lord of the Rings.


As a matter of fact, the word “fuck” is pronounced 156 times in the film.

Who Makes Popular Art?

“Which population is more active in the arts? It’s hard to say. It used to be that the black population was hunkered down, they were doing something, but it wasn’t visible. So today, when they came out, they seem to be more active in mainstream art. This is music, films, soap operas, and painting. But they are generally more musical and creative in their own right.


There are also many names of artists, writers, artists, and musicians among the white population who work there. The white population of South Africa is about 10 percent. Their families have lived there for a hundred, two hundred, four hundred years. Those 10 percent created the country, built the economy and the education system, the science and the nuclear plants.


Although it’s harder for white people to live now, to advance in their careers, for example. There are privileges and grants and stuff for black people.”


In addition, the crime rate has risen. Not so much at the expense of our own, but “thanks to” the newcomers. There are many Nigerians in South Africa, who run clubs and distribute drugs and weapons. The local mafia was not formed on its own, but confrontation, trying to fight the newcomers. Many local gangs are present in the central part of South Africa – in Johannesburg, Pretoria. If you go deeper into the countryside, there are still no fences on the houses.


The work also raises internal social problems. In the 10-15 years that have passed since the end of apartheid, they are still not resolved. In some remote places there are still legends that if a black man with AIDS rapes a white woman, he will be cured. The problem of violence, by the way, is very serious in this regard. And these problems are reflected everywhere and in everything – both in government programs and in the arts.

On The Future


“South Africa has earned its place in world culture. They already have two Nobel Prize winners in literature – that’s saying something. South African culture has its own identity, which makes it stand apart. And I think there’s still potential, we’re bound to see some.

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