What does Heritage Day really mean to South Africans?

What does Heritage Day really mean to South Africans?

Besides having off work, what’s Heritage Day really about, and why do we celebrate it?

The 24th of late September, or Heritage Day, is among South Africa’s latest public holidays, just being declared a vacation following the first democratic elections in 1994, also first observed as a holiday in 1996.

Does Heritage Day autumn over the 24 September?

Before 1994, the day has been a day which used to admit King Shaka Zulu, the Zulu chief and has been commemorated in KZN.

When 24 September was omitted in the Public Holidays Bill before parliament, the Inkatha Freedom Party objected.

So as to reach a compromise, a day has been determined upon that would observe diversity and the country’s cultural unity — Heritage Day.

“The day is one of our recently created public holidays and its significance rests in recognising aspects of South African culture which are both real and hard to pin down: imaginative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food that we eat as well as the territory in which we reside,” stated the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in 1996.

“Within a broader political and social context, the day’s events are a highly effective representative for promulgating a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and encouraging the idea that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict.”

Nelson Mandela’s thoughts on Heritage Day

The official Heritage Day at 1996 has been pronounced with all these words from Nelson Mandela:

“When our first democratically elected government chose to make Heritage Day among our national occasions, we did so because we understood that our rich and diverse cultural heritage features a deep capability to help build our new country.

“We all did so understanding the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We understood that, if indeed our country has to grow as the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to admit those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this aim of non-racial democracy.”

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