The history of the Day of Reconciliation and why SA celebrates it

The history of the Day of Reconciliation and why SA celebrates it

16 December is the day South Africans celebrate unity and the end of an oppressive era - apartheid. It is a day when a nation remembers the sacrifices that were made for their unity and the people that are to thank for it.

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"We have, in real life, declared our shared allegiance to justice, non-racialism and democracy; our yearning for a peaceful and harmonious nation of equals."

Those words were spoken by late icon Nelson Mandela on the first celebration of Day of Reconciliation.

As this day is celebrated, takes a brief look at how it came to be and how it evolved.

First celebrated as Dingane's Day, 16 December has a lot of history behind it, and it changed a lot over the years as South Africa grew as a nation.

On Dingane's Day, the Voortrekkers celebrated their victory against the Zulu army led by Dingane, according to information shared by

But the African National Congress and other political organisations took this day to protest against the apartheid regime, forever changing the history of the date.

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It was also the date of the launch of uMkhonto weSizwe - The Spear of The Nation.

After South Africa had its first democratic elections in 1994, the 16th of December remained a significant date. The name was changed and it is celebrated as a public holiday.

16 December went from being a day that felt oppressive to the majority of South Africans, to being a day when a nation can celebrate together and rejoice in the growth of the rainbow nation.

READ ALSO: University of Ghana tears down ‘racist’ Gandhi’s statue

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