Heritage day is celebrated on the 24 September each year in South Africa. It recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of the nation. On this public holiday South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their rich roots, culture and the diversity of their traditions and beliefs.
Known at the “rainbow nation” the goal of this day is to nature and embrace South African culture for what it truly is, acceptance of all genders and race.
September 24 was previously known as Shaka Day, a day commemorating the Zulu King Shaka who passed away in 1828 . In 1995 a request for the day to be declared an official holiday was rejected after ongoing discussions the day was declared a holiday in 1996 and became known as “Heritage Day”.
This colourful day sees people proudly wearing traditional attire and enjoy a braai with friends and family.
Various events are held around the country. One of these was hosted at the Yunus Emre Institute in Johannesburg, a Turkish culture centre which aims to promote the Turkish language and culture around the world.
Guests enjoyed a fun filled day, which included a variety of art exhibitions, Turkish baklava and shawarmas, stands showcasing African inspired items and intricate bead work.
The Family friendly environment had guests enjoying live entertainment from Laezonia Primary school who wore brightly colored clothes to compliment the different dances performed which included gum boot dancing, a Sepedi dance and a Zulu dance. The accopela group also performed some of their songs.
Among the guests who enjoyed the day were staff from the Turkish Embassy, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Eswatini H. E. Lindiwe Kunene, representatives from the Korean Culture centre, Advocate Thuleleni, Dr Azam, Urban Zulu and Princesses from the various tribes in South Africa.
Princess Nonkululeko Mahlangu exhibited some of the beadwork made by ladies from her tribe while Princess Azola showcased umchokoza ( tribal face painting) for guests who wanted to appreciate the creative and historical art.
Heritage is defined as “that which we inherit: the sum total of wildlife and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections together with their documentation ”
Within a broader social and political context, the days events are a powerful agent for promulgating a South African identity ,fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset.
Happy Heritage Day South Africa 🇿🇦
by Marion Kate