Heritage Day (24 September)

20 09 2010

Last week wasn’t all that bad – I don’t really have bad weeks here, since I have no complaints regarding the company I work at. I even found a post-it with smileys on my desk on Friday (I have a small post-it against my screen that says ‘Smile’, so I suppose whoever the person was, he/she complied). The weekend saw me spending time with the parentals, my older sister and (of course) my Significant Other. Just another weekend in this fast-moving year.

I hope you’re weeks are as pleasant as mine. And if they’re not, at least this week will be a short one – for us here in South Africa, that is. Friday sees us celebrating Heritage Day, also known as and commonly referred to by South Africans as Braai (Barbeque) Day, and thus a public holiday which gives us a three-day weekend to look forward to. If you’re in school, you’re even luckier, since Thursday sees the commencement of the school holidays – a week and a half’s reprieve.

Now, many people don’t know where Heritage Day comes from. What it’s about is a no brainer: a day on which we celebrate our rich, diverse cultural heritage – language, foods, the landscape, our history – and come together as a nation to show that, although we have varied cultures within our land, we as a nation can stand together and celebrate as one entity – an entity proud of our country and what we can (have) achieve(d).

On a more historical, factual note, in explanation of how Heritage Day came about, Wikipedia supplies the following background information:

In KwaZulu-Natal, the 24th of September was known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of the Zulu King Shaka. Shaka was the legendary Zulu King who played an important role in uniting disparate Zulu clans into a cohesive nation. The Public Holidays Bill presented to the Parliament of South Africa at the time did not have the 24th of September included on the list of proposed public holidays. As a result of this exclusion, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a South African political party with a large Zulu membership, objected to the bill. Parliament and the IFP reached a compromise and the day was given its present title and seen as a public holiday.

The article goes on to state:

South Africans celebrate Heritage Day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day. In 2005, a media campaign sought to “re-brand” the holiday as National Braai Day, in recognition of the South African culinary tradition of holding informal backyard barbecues, or braais. […] At the end of 2007 National Braai Day changed its name to Braai4Heritage and the initiative received the endorsement of South Africa’s National Heritage Council (NHC).

I’m proud of my heritage. I may not agree with many things that have happened in the past or some of the things that are happening now – when the sh*t hits the fan and things get out of whack, I hope I’ll have my passport ready to get the hell out of here – but I do love my country: the landscape, the sunsets, Afrikaans, the odd mix of people and their ways, the bushveld/wilderness, and probably many other things I cannot think of right now…

So have a good week, everyone, and to all my South African friends/readers: may the extra day off be used to have a pleasant day with family and friends, and may you remember that even though things look bleak sometimes (or should that be ‘most times’?), we do live in a wonderful country.

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23 09 2010

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