Around the World in Houston: Discover South Africa

Photo courtesy of Houston Afrifest

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

From restaurants serving bobotie, biltong, and Boerewors sausage to African arts, cultural meetups and annual festivals, here’s how to get a taste of South Africa in Houston.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Houston AFRIFEST Put on by the Nigerian-American Multicultural Council, this annual festival celebrates the diverse cultures that span the continent of Africa though arts, music, dance, food, and fashion.
  • Houston African Arts Festival Enriching African cultural life in Houston, this annual festival showcases emerging and established artists, offering the best of local and international African music, dance, theatre, visual arts, fashion shows, poetry, comedy, film, African design, foods and more. Follow along on Facebook for updates.
  • African Fashion Week Houston African Fashion Week Houston offers a series of multicultural events, with the goal to bridge the gap in cultural diversity by bringing together and presenting fashion, culture, entertainment, the arts, and business development.
  • Pan-African Cultural Festival – This annual festival celebrates African culture through arts and crafts, food and drink, drumming and musical performances, and more.

Art, Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • The Gite Gallery This charming two-story gallery features beautiful and unique art and artifacts—including original paintings, hand-carved wooden statues, bronze sculptures, tribal masks and hats, brightly colored textiles and more—all from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Menil Collection Menil houses an Arts of Africa collection, featuring over 900 examples of masks, sculptures, textiles, and ceramic and metal objects from all over Africa. The main building housing these artworks will reopen on September 22, 2018.
  • Museum of Fine Arts, HoustonPeruse the Arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas collection at this Museum District gem, from sculptures, headdresses, and textiles to objects from a variety of regions, cultures, and countries.
  • 360 Degrees Vanishing at Art League HoustonStarted in 2014 by artist Selven O’Keef Jarmon, 360 Degrees Vanishing is an international public art and cultural exchange project between South Africa and Houston. The artwork features beaded tapestries, made by a group of skilled beaders from the Eastern Cape of South Africa and (as of the latest update) set to be mounted onto the Art League Houston building in November 2018. The concept addresses the gradual disappearance of the tradition of beading culture within South Africa, as well as the vanishing parts of various cultures that are taken for granted.

South African Food & Drink

  • Peli PeliWith multiple locations dotting the city, Peli Peli brings South African cuisine to Houston via authentic flavors and fusion dishes. Dine on traditional dishes like bobotie, biltong (like South African beef jerky), Boerewors sausage, and South African samosa, plus house specialties like peli peli shrimp, hanging espetada skewers, and South African melktart brûlée.
  • Peli Peli Kitchen Peli Peli’s fast-casual concept offers the same South African flavors in the form of fusion comfort food. Dig into sweet coconut curried chicken and rice, Huguenot pork belly tacos, slow-braised oxtail, and frikadelle (South African meatball) sandwiches.
  • The Peri Peri Factory The peri peri chili pepper—also known as pili pili, peli peli, or bird’s eye chili—is popular in both Portuguese in South African cusine (the cultivar was bred in southeastern Africa and spread by the Portuguese). This Portuguese chicken spot offers the spice in the form of peri peri wings, tenders, and flame-grilled chicken pieces.
  • Ògùn Art + Wine While the works at this art gallery and wine bar are primarily from Nigeria and West Africa, the wine selections cover various wine-producing regions, with an emphasis on the wines of South Africa.
  • British IslesThis specialty food store may be known for its stock of British product, but it also offers South African items, including peri peri sauce and biscuits.
  • Houston Wine Merchant Shop for a selection of South African wines at this local shop.
  • Leibman’s Deli This fine wine and foods purveyor houses a selection of hard-to-score South African food products and beverages, from candies, cookies, and South African sodas and wines to curry powders, peri peri sauces, and chutneys.

Language classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Berlitz Language Center This learning center offers flexible programs for adults and children, with languages including Afrikaans.
  • Houston African Community International This cultural organization and African Community Center offers programs, community outreach and networking opportunities for Africans in the Greater Houston area. The group’s annual African Festival of Arts promotes African-based cultures.
  • South Africans in Houston Connect with fellow South Africans living in Houston with this private Facebook group.
  • Young African Professionals Houston This nonprofit group strives to foster a community of young African professionals, encouraging community participation, networking, professional development, and other interests.
  • Meetup groups – Both the Houston African Culture Meetup and Africans in Houston groups hosts meet and greets, cultured events, and networking opportunities.

Other Notables

  • BBVA Compass Stadium Football fans can get their fix at this EaDo soccer stadium, home to both the Houston Dynamo and the Houston Dash.
  • Houston Athletic Rugby Club Formed in 1998 by the merger of the Houston Hurricanes, Houston Rugby Football Club, and the Houston Old Boys Rugby Football Club, this club strives to promote rugby in the Houston area.
  • Houston Cricket LeagueThis cricket club was organized to further the sport of cricket in Houston and surrounding areas, with activities for both youth and adults.
  • African Imports Houston This Greenspoint store sells African clothing, art, books, movies, jewelry and more.
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Brooke Viggiano
Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .