September is Heritage Month in South Africa, with the 24th September being a national public holiday, Heritage Day. Prior to 1994, this date was celebrated under a different name – ‘Shaka’s Day’, which honoured the legendary Zulu King who assimilated various clans under the Zulu Kingdom. In the transition from the apartheid government to the new South African government, a list of public holidays was first proposed in 1995. The Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party lodged an objection, insisting on the inclusion of Shaka’s Day. A compromise was reached and Shaka’s Day became known as Heritage Day. It is a time of the year when we can feel especially proud of the rich diversity of our country, with people dressing in their traditional attire, hosting braais in celebration of ‘National Braai Day’ as it’s sometimes called (an idea encouraged by Archbishop Desmond Tutu), and attending events that promote local music and art.
In the words of Nelson Mandela “our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation”.
Photograph courtesy of bbc.com