The heritage day South Africa is celebrated once in a year despite the fact that these celebrations are actually run from the start to the end of the month of September. The national event is aimed at recognizing the cultural aspects of the country and using the differences that existed during the pre-apartheid era to heal the country. In line with this, people enjoy through creative expression, food especially braai, language, and art performances. They use the differences in culture and customs to define where they want the country to head and how they can successfully uproot the evils of the colonial regime.
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The South Africa heritage day is celebrated on September 24th every year though celebrations run from the first to 30th of the month. This month was set aside to recognize aspects of the country’s culture which are both intangible and tangible. During the month, people celebrate by enjoying their creative expression including performances and music, language, inheritance, popular memory and even South African food. The events are used to celebrate and remember the cultural and political struggles of the people of South Africa in fighting apartheid and associated racism.
So, what are some of the facts you need to know to understand what is heritage day? Well, here are some 5 facts about the celebration you should know!
What is the significance of the Heritage Day?
The events of heritage day are important in that they promulgate a nationwide identity, foster reconciliation, and cultivate the notion that differences can be used as assets as opposed to tools of conflict. This is the drive that led President Nelson Mandela and his government to make September 24th a heritage celebration day. According to him, the rich, yet varied cultural heritage of South African people, could help rebuild the newly reformed nation. In addition, the country would collectively seek to fight the evils instigated by the ousted apartheid regime. The new regime knew that this could only be achieved if the people came together as one.
How is heritage remembered in South Africa?
The celebration of the heritage day coincides with the day that King Shaka died. Historically, this celebration was marked as Shaka Day in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The celebrations played tribute to the King for his efforts to bring together all Zulu clans. In 1995 when the new constitution was taking shape, the day was omitted in the public holidays' bill. This angered a faction of the parliament, specifically those loyal to Inkatha Freedom Party.
Consequently and in order to reach a compromise, the government opted to create a day that everybody could relate to, hence came the heritage day. Today, the occasion is celebrated by remembering and recognizing elements of South African culture. Likewise, the event reminds the people that inequities and injustices of the past form a part of the country's national identity. In 2005, following an aggressive media campaign, the celebration was renamed to The National Braai Day, as it was felt that most people would associate with the braai background.
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What is a braai in South Africa?
Why is heritage day important? Besides celebrating cultural heritage and national identity, people also get to sit with their friends and family and enjoy braais. What is that you may ask? In South Africa, the braai is the Afrikaans name for grilled meat. Braai is an important social custom in South Africa and a number of other African countries. During this day, meat is grilled over coal as people gather around the fire to enjoy their meat and share their experiences.
The relation between braai and heritage day in South Africa
Notably, braaing is just but one of the few things that cut the racial and cultural lines in the country. This is the main reason that heritage celebration was rebranded braai day as all people could relate to the latter. During this time, cultural stories are shared and re-connections with friends and families cherished. It follows, therefore, that the main idea of the National Braai Day is that people can prepare their own variation of braai, ranging from potjies, shisha nyama and spit braais. The occasion is founded on varieties of food, cultures, and fellowship among the people.
What are the main events during the heritage celebration?
The heritage day images and events reflect the culture and history of the country. Again, the main event would be the braaing where people cook their food over a lit barbeque and share stories as they eat their roasted food. Notably, South African people respect cultural diversity, particularly on this occasion when all things are hinged to the pain and suffering that the country underwent when dealing with apartheid.
During the month of September every year, people are reminded of their roots as a country and the ability of variations in culture to shape the identity of the nation through heritage day South Africa.
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