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Heritage Day in South Africa

Destination Garden Route Heritage Braai day

Heritage Day in South Africa is one of the 12 public holidays observed annually on the 24th of September.  An important day, as it celebrates the roots, the heritage, the history of all South Africans.

But then think of it: where lie the roots of ‘all South Africans’?  Here on the Garden Route ‘South African’ can mean Xhosa, it can be Afrikaans, it can mean from English descent.  And let’s not forget the Griqua (sometimes spelled as Grikwa), and other first nation peoples I may not been made aware of yet.  Are the San part of South Africa’s heritage, and the Khoekhoe?  How about the Portuguese, the Germans and the Dutch? 

A bit of history

When the Public Holidays Bill was presented to Parliament in 1995, the 24th of September was initially not on the list.  In KwaZulu Natal 24th of September was known as Shaka Day, commemorating King Shaka’s death in 1828.  King Shaka was instrumental in uniting different Zulu clans into a cohesive nation.  The strong Zulu representation in parliament reached a compromise when the 24th of September was ‘renamed’ into Heritage Day and consequently included on the list of public holidays.

So who’s braaiing?

I guess you get the drift, the heritage of South Africa, through its people and their cultures, beliefs and traditions, are as diverse as the colours of the rainbow.  Yet the one thing all South Africans have in common is the joy of sitting around the braai (don’t even think about calling it a barbeque!), preparing a lekker ‘tjop’, boerewors or sisa nyama.  Meanwhile stories – historical, cultural, true stories and surely also some made up stories! – get shared.  This prompted an initiative a few years ago to rename the holiday yet again, and call it Braai Day. 

So you can imagine the answers to the question we asked on facebook earlier today what heritage everybody was celebrating were as diverse as the people responding, and their individual nations’ history. 

And how it was being celebrated?  You guessed it!  Sharing our stories around the fire: we’re braaiing!