South Africans go searching on Google for …

Which politician did most South Africans search for in 2009? If you’re thinking President Jacob Zuma after his busiest political year to date, think again. Nelson Mandela is still the number one politician South Africans type into their Google search boxes.

The search giant revealed South Africa’s top searches for the year on Tuesday.

Second on the politicians list was Zuma, followed by firebrand African National Congress youth leader Julius Malema.

Helen Zille, Robert Mugabe and Trevor Manuel were further down on the list.

Trend search, which illustrates a search term’s popularity over time, showed that Julius Malema first jumped into the public eye in June 2008 when he controversially said he would ”die for Zuma”, peaking again in Google searches after various public indiscretions, particularly during the pre- and post-election period. After a quiet period in July he sprang to prominence again over his argument to nationalise South Africa’s mines.

YFM’s DJ Sbu weighed in at number one on the celebrity searches, with ”South Africa’s Paris Hilton” Khanyi Mbau, the socialite who has proven to be an attention magnet, beating Hollywood favourite Charlize Theron to second spot.

With the global economic recession on everyone’s mind, it seems getting informed about the basics was the priority of most people, with ”what is a recession” the most searched recession query. Absa, meanwhile, featured in the most popular searches and the ”fastest rising” search for our country.

Fastest rising queries are the search terms that have seen the largest increase in search volume over a specified amount of time.

Globally, searching trends reflected waning interests, with United States President Barack Obama coming in fourth in the fastest falling search item globally. Michael Jackson was listed fastest rising after the pop superstar’s death on June 25 ground the internet to a halt.

The countries most interested in the Fifa World Cup 2010 were South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, with Ireland and the United Kingdom the only northern hemisphere countries searching for ”2010 World Cup” featuring in the top 10.

And the number one search in South Africa overall? That’s another internet giant: Facebook.

For more results including sport events, and searches by countries, visit Google Zeitgeist. Besides seeing what the world is searching for, you can also create your own trend results and have a look at your own search history, if you have enabled web history on your Google account.

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Verashni Pillay
Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.

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