Why does South Africa celebrate Heritage Day?

Why does South Africa celebrate Heritage Day?

Tomorrow, 24 September 2020 is Heritage Day or National Braai Day as most South Africans have come to know, and love this Day. At Louwrens Coetzer Attorneys and Conveyancers we would like to extend a

very special message to each and every South African in celebration of our heritage as a nation that has overcome so many obstacles both past and present:

“There is something unique and special about every culture, which makes it stand out. Let us preserve it together!”

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate heritage day or how this day came about?

The following article from Brand South Africa provides an interesting history behind the celebration of Heritage Day in South Africa.

Heritage Day – 24 September – is one of South Africa’s newer public holidays, declared after the republic became a democracy in 1994. The day was first observed in 1996.

Prior to that, 24 September was commemorated in KwaZulu-Natal as Shaka Day, in honor of the legendary Zulu leader, King Shaka Zulu.

When this day was omitted from the proposed Public Holidays Bill before parliament in 1995, the Inkatha Freedom Party objected. In the spirit of reconciliation, a compromise was made to create a day on which everyone in the country could celebrate diversity in cultural heritage.

“The day is one of our newly created public holidays and its significance rests in recognizing aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and difficult to pin down: creative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live,” said the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in 1996.

“Within a broader social and political context, the day’s events are a powerful agent for promulgating a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict.”

Mandela on heritage

In marking Heritage Day in 1996, Nelson Mandela stated:

“When our first democratically elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.

“We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy.”


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