South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world with people, cultures and religions congregating to form what we so lovingly call the rainbow nation. With all these different influences it is important to remember where we come from as a country and as a people. That’s why on the 24th of September each year we celebrate SA’s Heritage day.
In the past Heritage Day was known as Shaka Day in the KZN to honour the legendary Zulu king Shaka Zulu. However, when establishing the Public Holiday Bill Shaka day was not included which upset many Zulu people living in SA. A compromise was reached when it was decided that a day would be created where all South Africans could observe and celebrate their diverse cultural heritage.
In 1996 when Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected president of South Africa he said the he “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.”
These days Heritage day is also known to many South Africans as Braai Day. This started when newly elected Archbishop Desmond Tutu called a braai something that unified all South Africans.
Heritage day has really evolved from a day celebrating Shaka Zulu into something much more. It has become a day where we celebrate our differences, origins and how they unite us as South Africans living in a truly diverse and beautiful country.