Heritage Day falls on 24 September every year in South Africa, inspired by a celebration of the nation's diverse culture and heritage. This diversity led Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu to dub the country The Rainbow Nation, after the first democratic elections were held in 1994.
The origin of this public holiday stems from Shaka Day, which commemorated the famous Zulu king. When the Public Holiday Bill was proposed to the new South African parliament, this day was left out. The IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party), due to their large Zulu membership, objected. A compromise was reached whereby the day was renamed Heritage Day, allowing everyone in South Africa to celebrate their assorted heritage and culture.
In recent years the public holiday has also become known as Braai Day. South Africans love chilling out and spending time with family and friends, particularly during holidays, and this inevitably leads to people gathering around food (as it so often does in many nations). The very spirit of "having a braai" in South Africa suggests the coming together of people. Despite our diverse backgrounds, a simple event such as this has a unifying aspect and brings many different people together so that we can truly live out our nation's motto: unity in diversity.
Proudly South African – 10 Reasons Why It's Good to Be South African (or to live here)
1. More often than not, the sun is shining.
2. Holidays and weekends away entail spending all your time on the beach or watching wildlife. It also creates a livelihood for many people.
3. We don't take ourselves too seriously.
4. The rhino, elephant, leopard, buffalo and lion – or, as they are collectively known, the Big 5.
5. We can carry out a conversation in different languages and still understand one another.
6. We have a very special sense of humour.
7. Our accents and dialects are unique, and no matter what language you speak encompasses eclectic phrases like "now now", "howzit" "yebo" "lekker" and "eish".
8. Our music is excellent, spanning across all genres (and languages) from kwaito to rock to jazz and many more, while our national anthem is an amalgamation of five languages.
9. Our food is very "lekker" too – especially because it has so many different influences.
10. Our constitution is regarded as the most progressive in the world.
Have a Happy Heritage Day and welkom to Mzansi!