With Heritage Day having occurred on Sunday, the 24th of September, many families and friends were out braaing to commemorate this special day. Having a chill with friends and enjoying your day off is nothing to scorn at; what is, however, laughable, is that Heritage Day is now being referred to as ‘braai day’.

The meaning of Heritage Day should NOT be degraded by such commercial and obnoxious phrasing.
Your heritage refers to who you and differs from person to person. Your culture, ethnicity, belief system and even religious sect play a huge role in how you identify yourself when looking in the mirror.

It’s different for everyone: a Muslim person may focus more on their religious beliefs and traditions when identifying themselves, whereas a Xhosa person may, for example, focus more on cultural norms and practices or the political aspects of whom they are.

As a Muslim person of colour, my parents mainly focussed my upbringing on religious teachings and not necessarily the racial aspects of who I am, but every family is different.

South Africa is such a diverse land with such a difficult history that racial conflict often overpowers the absolute wonder of being a part of these deeply enriched soils upon which we tread.

Heritage Day is the one day we can truly express ourselves and who we are, whether at school or at work, outside of the confines of societal norms. People stride proudly to work in their traditional wear, loving how their garments perpetuate another aspect of their personalities, who they ‘truly are’ if you will.

Parties are held and interesting dialogues take place in a friendly, conversational environments, with friends, laughter and understanding.

Prior to 1995, Heritage Day was actually known as Shaka Day in commemoration of Shaka Zulu who united the various Zulu clans.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying Heritage Day by enjoying a boerrie with friends, but’s it’s good to remember the actual meaning of this day.

Maybe it’s a good time for you to think about broadening your horizons? Learning another language and possibly immersing yourself in the culture of another?

Seeing the ‘other side’ could create new conversations, and could make uncomfortable scenarios less so with open discourse about who we are as South Africans.

How did you celebrate your Heritage Day? Let us know!