Not many people understand the real significance of or meaning behind Heritage Day which is celebrated annually on 24 September. For some, it is an opportunity to simply get together with family and friends for a braai, but does this take into account the multitude of cultures that make up our “rainbow nation”?
Heritage Day is a national holiday where all South Africans celebrate their cultural heritage and embrace their diverse traditions and values that contribute to our “rainbow nation”. Our heritage is very unique and precious because it helps us to define our cultural identity and it therefore lies at the heart of our spiritual wellbeing and it has the power to build our nation. Our heritage has the potential to affirm our diverse cultures and in so doing shape our national character as a “rainbow nation” at peace with itself. In short our heritage celebrates our achievements and contributes to redressing past inequities. It educates, it deepens our understanding of society while at the same time it encourages us to empathise with the experience of others. For a nation that has just been through apartheid, which had been declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations, the significance of heritage day cannot be overemphasised in that it facilitates healing.
Heritage Day is an important public holiday in South Africa as it recognises different aspects of South African culture and encourages South Africans across the spectrum to celebrate their cultural heritage, the diversity of their beliefs and different traditions. Heritage not only refers to our historical inheritance, creative expression and food, but it also embraces the various languages that have become entrenched in our cultural milieu. Heritate day means celebrating cultural diversity since we have different cultures in Africa, different traditional beliefs, music, dance, food and attire.
This day means a lot to us as Africans and to the new generation because we learn more about our cultures. We spoke to a Venda woman who said she feel proud when she is wearing a Venda outfit called Musisi. On this day we celebrate the cultural diversity of our beautifully rich country. Our indigenous music and food is what defines our heritage the most I think, because a lot of people express their beliefs through traditional music and food, hence Heritage Day was nicknamed National Braai Day.