Flux Trends founder Dion Chang’s latest eBook New Urban Tribes of South Africa – breaks down contemporary urban groups into bite-sized characters packaged and wrapped for the retail market. These are not meant as a new set of stereotypes, nor is it meant to be an exhaustive list, writes Chang, but rather these 12 tribes represent a cross-section of contemporary South Africa, chosen because of cultural influence and spending power.
The Diamond Chips
These tech-savvy, stylish, affluent, urban twentysomethings may be too young to remember what it was like to live in apartheid South Africa, but they are not too young to have benefited from the new South Africa. Diamond Chips can be spoiled yet free-spirited and passionate about changing the world. Famous for splurging on clothes and cars, they are sometimes known to have more flash than cash, maintaining their lifestyles through highly financed credit-card debt. Diamond Chips often feel extreme pressure to succeed as the first generation in their families to have benefited from expensive private schooling and university education. They live in fear of falling back into the old African poverty trap their parents escaped from in the 1990s.
Key words: Net generation, generation Y, eco-boom, trophy kids, neo-yuppies, brand sluts, coconuts, gangster-jazz, hipsters, Metro FM, YFM, suburban estates, private schools.
Techno-Hippies are tech-savvy geeks with hipster tastes and hippie ideas about saving the planet by going green and being sustainably self-sufficient. Although they are passionate about changing the world on an abstract level, they prefer passive activism to actually getting their hands dirty and, as such, have gained the nickname “slacktivists”. They turn on their computers, tune in to blogs and drop out of school in pursuit of internet entrepreneurship. They are modern nomads who can live and work whenever and wherever they want, without being bound by a clock or a full-time boss. Techno-Hippies try to purchase locally made or recycled items, as well as second-hand or “upcycled” clothing from flea markets with a “post-manufacture story”.
Key words: Hippie 2.0, modern nomads, new rich, up-cycled furniture, free range, vegan clothing, artisinal markets, fair trade, raw-foodist, kickstarter.com, Facebook cause groups, rainbow gatherings, adventure travelling, Rocking the Daisies, Afrika Burn.
The Faith-Based Youth
Faith-Based Youths have strong Bible-based beliefs, but they have turned away from the hierarchical religious institutions they grew up with. These new crusaders are more interested in making a lasting difference in the world through missionary action than in preaching from a pulpit. They do not like to refer to their work as outreach as it would imply that they are superior to those they are helping. Faith-Based Youth can be found gathering in coffee shops early on Friday mornings, in each other’s homes and even in bars, engaging in lively discussion of global issues, all from within a moral, biblical worldview. Many are aspiring philanthropic entrepreneurs with a burning desire to create strong Christian business and networking opportunities in South Africa.
Key words: Neo-monasticism, Missional Church, philanthropic entrepreneurs, new crusaders, missionary work programmes, OUTsurance project, social justice, biblical worldview, echurch.co.za.
The Bieber Brats
The Bieber Brats are the spoiled nine- to 12-year-old kids of today. They have never known life without the internet and cellphones and have grown up with Hanna Montana madness and Twilight hysteria. They are a well-educated tribe with refined taste, despite their age. They tend to be enrolled in posh extramural activities including archery, horse riding, computer programming and Mandarin classes. They were brought into the world wearing Gucci baby grows and have been dressed in Baby Dior and Armani Kids ever since. The Bieber Brats have the first real level playing field in South Africa – many Bieber Brats do not even “see” the skin colour of their peers unless prompted. A Bieber Brat’s cellphone tells more about their popularity than jewellery.
Key words: Generation Z, tweens, Ed Hardy, Armani Kids, DKNY, Baby Dior, Sandton City, skinny jeans, Born Frees, Montessori schools, golf carts, mocktails, under 18-only clubs, private golf estates, High School Musical.
The Afrikaans Artistes want to preserve their culture and express their tribal identity through the creative arts. One subtribe, the 35- to 55-year-old Creative Collective, are “culture vultures” who love promoting local (and especially Afrikaans) art and design and dress to emphasise their alternative mindset with tribal jewellery, arty frames, and dyed and cropped hair. They travel to quaint art towns to spend their weekends searching for antique treasures. The Liberal Millennial subtribe, in their 20s and 30s, are just as free-spirited, but want to clear their Afrikaner culture of its apartheid-era associations. They look back to the “pure” Voortrekker era, growing bushy beards and full moustaches, and collect ox-wagon memorabilia. They are Afrikaner culture’s answer to the hipster, carrying Moleskin notebooks and taking up retro hobbies, such as knitting their own clothing.
Key words: Generation X, high art, Pierre Cronje riempie chairs, shongololo couch by Haldane Martin, classical concerts, gallery openings, Staatsteater, gourmet restaurants, swish patisseries, Movember, Fokofpolisiekar, Van Coke Kartel.
The Empowerment Kugels
Empowerment Kugels are the wives of political royalty or tenderpreneurs with vague struggle credentials who have come into money in the new South Africa. They now reside in McMansions in Sandton, Atholl or other upmarket residential estates and dress in a smart mix of traditional African outfits and Western designer clothes. They invest in their appearance with frequent spa days, with family being the only thing that tops their need for status. Traditional Empowerment Kugels will go back to the same township hair salons they went to before they “came into money”. Most depend on their husbands to support their lifestyles and turn a blind eye to their husbands’ infidelities in exchange for privileged lives with platinum cards. These matriarchs are the force pushing their men forward, ensuring their husbands make the right decisions to maintain the family’s lifestyle.
Key words: Kugel, Afro-Euro chic, Thula Sindi, David Tlale, the Michelangelo, Prada, Gucci, spa days, shopping holidays, frequent fliers, Stoned Cherrie, Sandton, family, Oprah, Basetsana Kumalo, Generations, The Wild.
Domestic PAs are more than maids: they are home managers. They not only rear the madam’s children and cook the supper, many also wield decision-making power as consumers. Because, although madam might write the shopping list, it is the Domestic PA who makes the final brand choice in the supermarket. By and large Zimbabwean, Domestic PAs see their somewhat menial jobs as a stepping stone to better things. And this often pays off. Employers will sometimes assist them to obtain a driver’s licence, or even pay for their children to go to the same private school as their employer’s own. Ever enterprising, Domestic PAs also take great pride in their appearance and will often pay a large portion of their salary on good weaves, nail extensions and smart street clothes.
Key words: Airtime, Jet, Shoe City, Zimbabwean, enterprising, entrepreneurial, please call me, Mr Price, grocery shopping, stepping stone.
Although making up just 2.5% of the population, the Indian and Chinese community is taking a big share of the South African economy. Holding the financial upkeep of generational family relationships dear, they treasure education and favour the “serious” professions of medicine, law and accounting. But a generational culture clash is emerging, with younger people resisting the dictates of their traditional heritage and choosing instead to immerse themselves in contemporary South African culture. As self-made business people, Indo-Asians embrace branded items, gadgets and cutting-edge technology. They are also community driven and enjoy socialising online, and channels such as BBM, MXit and WhatsApp are immensely popular.
Key words: Education, family business, traditional, sophisticated, self-made, fast cars, gold bling, mahjong, China Mall, Pravin Gordhan, the Guptas.
The Black Pinks
The black gay community in South Africa is flashy, flamboyant and highly aspirational. Often from backgrounds of modest means, they aim for financially secure futures and like being seen in vibey urban spaces. But discrimination from their families and communities has meant the “out” black gay population is smaller than its white counterpart. The Black Pinks are further divided into two subtribes: the Skinny Jean Creatives and the Pink Chino Corporates. The Skinny Jeans thrive on things with shock value and consider themselves visionary trend leaders. The Pink Chinos are more serious and subtle, focusing on looking and feeling healthy. But they are known to flaunt their wealth in flashy cars such as BMWs and Audi convertibles.
Key words: Fashion, plush suburbs, fine dining, kasi, vintage clothing, Arts on Main, pansexual, polysexual, professionals, well groomed, gym, Facebook, Twitter, Khaya Dlanga, Pride Parade, Taboo, Citrus Lounge, mambaonline.co.za.
Single Parent, Double Life
These are young ladies affected by the scourge of teenage pregnancies in South Africa and although many come from underprivileged rural areas, a growing number can be found in suburban homes. Parents often take over child-rearing, leaving the new mum free to go back to where she left off. But the babies remain a priority for many even when they head for the glamorous life of the city. Aspiring to be famous actresses, models, singers or businesswomen, some may take on wealthy boyfriends who shower them with gifts and help to support their lifestyles. Single moms hang out in bars and clubs in search of single men. They spend much effort on their appearance, often funded by the men they snag.
Key words: City lifestyle, slashie, aspirational, ambitious, high-street fashion, fabulosity, Kimora Lee Simmons, True Love, Glamour, Top Billing, Khanyi Mbau, sugar daddy, The Michelangelo, Latinova, Louis Vuitton, Cartier.
The Lost Generation
The Lost Generation is the coffee in South Africa’s cappuccino – undereducated, unemployed and very angry – they are the 90% black that sits below the 10% white at the top. There are really two Lost Generations: the Lost Elders – the men and women who stood up and rallied for the struggle – and the Lost Millennials, bred by the anti-apartheid elders who trusted that their fight would be awarded with a better future for their children. Twenty years on, they are left with an abhorrent education system, a lack of job opportunities and a continuous inflow of foreigners who they feel “steal” the jobs of young South Africans. Their only hope is to resort to crime or be consumed by a growing fantasy of being rich and famous, a dream that has begun to breed a generation that is a toxic, ticking time bomb.
Key words: Education, post-apartheid, Aids, orphans, gatvol, loskshin youths, Julius Malema, Msawawa, low-rise jeans, soccer jerseys,
bling, pantsula, shebeens, cellphones, Ukhozi FM, Capricorn FM, Daily Sun.
The Rainbow Revolutionaries
Rainbow Revolutionary families often come from a very educated, well-travelled and well-read stratum of the population and identify with a global culture of democracy and liberalism in which all ethnic and religious groups belong to
a single community and respect each other through a shared morality. Some Rainbow Revolutionaries try and bring their children up in the post-modern “transhuman” philosophy, focusing on what individuals have in common rather than on their different rituals and appearances. Rainbow Revolutionaries include all the various South African tribes and this means they cannot be identified in terms of style or tastes; they are united though their desire to show the world that character, heart and humanity can transcend racial identity.
Key words: Interracial marriage, botanical gardens, museums, Tokyo Sexwale and Judy van Vuuren, nature, global citizens,different
- The 2% of the world who buy only organic food spends more on filling their pantries with “ethical” food than the 74% of humanity who can spend only on basic foodstuffs.
- According to the National Planning Commission’s diagnostic report, 20% of teachers in black schools are absent on Mondays and Fridays.
- Sixty-five out of every 1000 South African teenage girls were or have already been pregnant.
- The average per-capita Indo-Asian income in 2008 was R51457, compared with the national average of R17475.
- Nearly 43% of migrant domestic workers have had at least some secondary education.
- Out of the 450 000 children in private schools in South Africa today, 73% are black.
- Nearly 87% of South Africans declare themselves to be Christian.
- South African youths access the internet from their cellphones about five times more than the global average.