Explainer: The origins of South Africa's Day of Reconciliation

Explainer: The origins of South Africa's Day of Reconciliation

- South Africans are celebrating the Day of Reconciliation on Wednesday

- The day has long been a public holiday in Mzansi, but not many know the origin

- Briefly.co.za explores the origin of this holiday to provide some insight

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The Day of Reconciliation is a South African public holiday which came into effect in 1995 after apartheid ended.

The aim at the time had been to foster reconciliation and national unity after the birth of democracy.

The date itself was selected due to its significance to both Afrikaner and African cultures by the government in an attempt to appeal to both groups in recognition of the need for racial harmony.


The holiday is aimed at encouraging unity. Image: Pexels
Source: UGC

The celebration remembers the history involved and recognises the contributions of veterans who fought for SA's freedom.

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For the Afrikaans community, the day was previously the Day of the Vow, a religious holiday commemorating the Voortrekker victory over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838.

On the day, nearly 500 Voortrekkers were attacked in an attack led by Dingane's generals in the early hours of the morning.

The Voortrekkers managed to defeat the Zulus, whose force numbered in the 10-thousands.

For Africans the day marked a protest in a bid to obtain the right to vote on 16 December 1910.

The date also marks the anniversary of the founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe, which was formed in 1961.

The late former president Nelson Mandela was part of the government which opted to keep the holiday when the ANC came into power.

The holiday is also used to celebrate minority cultural groups in South Africa, for example, the San people.

Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that the Economic Freedom Fighters had come out in fierce opposition against the holiday.

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In an official statement issued by the party on Wednesday, the Red Berets called for justice, not reconciliation in the country.

The party feels that until the land issue has been solved there can be no peace in the country.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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