Happy Heritage Day South Africa.
South Africans are known to love their public holidays and especially when it comes and makes it a long weekend. Besides this day being a public holiday, what is it all about?
Heritage Day (Afrikaans: Erfenisdag, Xhosa: Usuku Lwamagugu, Usuku Lwamasiko) is a South African public holiday celebrated on 24 September.
On this day, South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their culture. Also, the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.
Now that we know what the day is all about, let’s take a look at its history.
History of Heritage Day
Before 1995, September 24 was previously known in South Africa as Shaka Day, a day commemorating the Zulu King.
Shaka was known for uniting the Zulu clan together and forming the Zulu nation in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Every year, South Africans would gather at his grave to honor him on the presumed date of his death in 1828.
In 1995 a request for the day to be confirmed as an official holiday was rejected. After receiving some pushback from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a majority Zulu party, it was decided that the day was needed and would be known as ‘‘Heritage Day.’’
To this day, thousands of people gather at the King Shaka Memorial on the 24th of September each year to pay tribute to the great Zulu King.
Also, since 1995 South Africans have celebrated Heritage Day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many different cultures that make up their nation.
Various events are usually staged throughout the country to commemorate this day. Also, some people choose to dress up in traditional attire to celebrate this special day.
However, some refer to this day as National Braai Day. This came after a media campaign in 2005 by Jan Scannell (known as “Jan Braai”). He proposed that the holiday be renamed as a National Braai Day, in commemoration of the culinary tradition of informal backyard braais.
On 5 September 2007, Archbishop Desmond Tutu celebrated his appointment as patron of South Africa’s Braai Day, affirming it to be a unifying force in a divided country (by donning an apron and enthusiastically eating a boerewors sausage).
In 2008, the initiative received the endorsement of South Africa’s National Heritage Council.
Officially, the day is still recognised as Heritage Day.