Every year South Africans celebrate a few Public Holidays that commemorate our new democracy and particular days which are significant to our history. This month on the 24 September we celebrate Heritage Day. Initially this day was called Shaka Day in remembrance of the great Zulu warrior Shaka. However, since 1994, this day was amended to celebrate the cultures and traditions of the entire South African nation. On this day all 11 official languages are celebrated and recognised as an important part of our country.
This year we are celebrating 21 years of democracy and Heritage Day has become one of the days that all South Africans are given a public platform to express their cultural identity. Many events are organised throughout the country and people are encouraged to wear their traditional dress proudly while at the same time respecting all the diverse cultures of this country. Former President Nelson Mandela was a strong supporter of equality of all people and respecting all humanity, not only the people of South Africa. He played an important role in finalising our new public holidays.
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. (Former President Nelson Mandela)
In 2005, a media campaign added another element to the day by celebrating our joint heritage of cooking on fire (“braai”); and so National Braai Day was started. At first, many people were insulted by the new idea and thought it would water down the importance of the actual day. However, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu became a patron for the day, the name was changed to Braai4Heritage and South Africans were encouraged to get together with friends and family to celebrate. Both names are very popular amongst South Africans, so whether you prefer visiting heritage sites or having a braai, 24 September will remain an important Public Holiday to all of us.
At EC language school in Cape Town we will be celebrating this day by visiting the art galleries in Cape Town for First Thursday and dressing up in traditional wear!