Kom ons braai – impress your friends with these cool facts about SA

2014-07-23 09:56

Kom ons Braai

If there’s one thing we know best, it’s how to braai. We hold a Guinness World Record for that, even though it’s called a barbecue in the record books. Call it what you like dude - we hold the record, and it’s called a braai. Okay?!

We South Africans set this record last year on Heritage Day in September 2013. And we can break it again any time; just name the time and place. This coming weekend (or any other weekend) is fine with us. We’ll check you there boet – as long as we can bring our cousin Barry.

Jan Braai (Photo: Mark Wessels)

Jan Braai (real name Jan Scannell) is the man behind the National Braai Day initiative. Find out more about Jan here.

Not only can we Sarf Effrikens braai up a storm; we actually know a boytjie who will beat any non-South African at barbecuing with pure stamina and perseverance. BraaiBoy set the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous braai back in 2012, long after the previous record holder fell down and promptly went to sleep. (BraaiBoy’s record was 62 hours 6 minutes and 16 seconds – the previous record stood at 32 hours).

Jan Greeff then came along and broke BraaiBoy’s record (in the US of A, nogal) on 27 April 2014. Jan is South African – no surprise there, hey?

So ja – while the rest of the world has to rely on stopwatches to determine their Guinness World Records, we South Africans use a calendar. We’re that good. Lekker man.

Wine, women, and song (oh, and beer)

Now that we have the braai started, let’s turn our attention to revelry (a fancy word for having a lekker time, dude). While you gooi dier op vuur, feel free to impress your friends with the following facts:

The first mention that was made of a braai in a newspaper article, was in 1942 when a braai was organised to collect war funds.

Castle was the first beer in SA to be sold in cans, way back in 1959.

Your Liefie is probably more the wine-drinking sort, so while you pop into the kitchen for the braai salt, impress her with the following nugget while you top up her glass:

The Pinotage cultivar is unique to South Africa. Nog ‘n enetjie?

Now that we have the wine and the beer flowing, let’s turn our attention to women and song:

Miriam Makeba was the first African woman to win a Grammy, and the first black woman to have a Top 10 worldwide hit with ‘Pata Pata’ in 1967.

She also has the longest family name by far - Zensile Makeba Qgwashu Nguvama Yiketheli Nxgowa Bantana Balomzi Xa Ufnu Ubajabulisa Ubaphekeli Mbiza Yotshwala Sithi Xa Saku Qgiba Ukutja Sithathe Izitsha Sizi Khabe Singama Lawu Singama Qgwashu Singama Nqamla Nqgithi.

The reason for its length is that every child takes the first name of all his male ancestors. Often following the first name is a descriptive word or two, telling about the character of their person, making a true African name somewhat like a story.

Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening

If you’re having your afternoon braai outside in summer on the highveld, chances are you’ll have to move it to the garage or under the lapa soon. The Highveld region of South Africa has amongst the highest lightning strikes per square km per annum in the world.

Planes, trains & automobiles

Pretty soon, the topic around the braai fire will turn to cars and things that go fast. Impress your buds with the following:

South Africa’s first aircraft was built in 1907, but was never flown in South Africa. It was shipped to France where it completed a number of test flights in 1908.

The Concorde did its flight testing at Upington Airport in June 1976.

Metrorail transports an average of 2 million South Africans daily, using 3 000 passenger coaches.

The Gautrain travels at speeds of 160 to 180 km/h, covering the distance between Pretoria and Johannesburg in less than 40 minutes. (Useless info – one of our Trivia SA subscribers actually drives one of these daily).

The first car in South Africa, a two-seater Benz Velo, was imported in 1896. It was transported to Pretoria by rail and ox wagon, and was first demonstrated at Berea Park on 4 January 1897.

The N2 highway, which runs from Cape Town to Ermelo, is longer than the N1 highway, which runs from Cape Town to Beitbridge.


Make sure your mates join you again for next weekend’s braai. When they leave, ask them:

Did you know you weigh more in Trompsburg, than anywhere else in South Africa?


The Guinness Book of World Records (of course), Google, as well as the Internet at large, and Dawid van Lill's excellent book: "See South Africa - Visual Facts"

Trivia SA will return next week with even more interesting and lesser-known facts about the beautiful country we live in – including the reason why you weigh more in Trompsburg than anywhere else in South Africa.

In the meantime, come and smell the braaivleis at our website, or even better – like our Facebook page where we regularly post awesome facts.

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