In KwaZulu-Natal, this day was known as Shaka’s day, commemorating the Zulu King Shaka, who died in 1828. The Public Holidays bill presented to parliment after 1994 didn’t originally include Heritage Day, and the Inkatha Freedom Party, a political party with a large Zulu membership, objected. A compromise was reached by creating a holiday that would forge a new identity for all South Africans.
To create unity from diversity after the dismantling of apartheid, Heritage Day highlights the histories of all racial groups and recognises all the men and women who have contributed to the heritage and culture of the nation.
Freedom of cultural, religious and linguistic expression is now enshrined in the constitution. The term Ubuntu, meaning “I am because you are”, is used to engender respect for other people.
South Africans visit heritage sites, acknowledge the different cultures, and celebrate the various aspects of our culture such as art, music, research and teaching.
Over the past few years South Africans have been re-branding Heritage Day as “National Braai Day”. Jan Braai has started a revolution to unite South Africa over a braai. There even is a National Braai Day Anthem, see below. Find out more at braai.com.
You can read more about Heritage Day and all the other South African Public Holidays in Awesome South Africa.
How are you going to be spending your Heritage Day on the 24th of September?