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It’s Heritage Day,not Braai Day. Please do not insult our heritage and our history.

Cape Town – 24 September 2016

Nothing girds me more than hearing South African’s who have no regard for other people’s culture or heritage refer to our Heritage Day as National Braai Day.It’s an insult to all South Africans,as if our entire culture and heritage can be equated with the preparation of meat over coals.

Heritage Day was always celebrated as Shaka Day,by the Zulu people,in commemoration of that brave Zulu warrior king.After 1994 it was still not included as a public holiday,until the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) objected to it not being declared as public holiday,and as a compromise it was declared as Heritage Day,a public holiday celebrated on 24 September every year.

The purpose of Heritage Day is to allow South Africans with their diverse cultures,to celebrate those diverse cultures as a united people.

A few years ago a certain “Jan Braai”,decided to rebrand our Heritage Day as National Braai Day.In a country such as South Africa,it’s bordering on the criminal,since we have a history of one race subjugating the history and past of the majority of the people of South Africa.Now,in the new South Africa,this is being allowed to happen once again.

The claim by this “Jan Braai”,is to unite South Africans around a fire.Really?? So all South African culture is reduced to being celebrated around a fire,and preparing meat.We may as well call it National Mopani Worm Day,or National Samoosa Day then in that case.Our entire South African heritage cannot be summed up in the preparation of meat over hot coals.

South Africa is about the Zulu warriors that fought the British,the Xhosa who fought in the Frontier Wars,the Cape Malays who celebrated “Tweede Nuwe Jaar” when the slave masters gave them the day off on 2 January,the Indian slaves who came to South Africa as indentured workers ,the Dutch and British settlers who sailed to come and settle in the Cape,and the many other people and cultures that make up this diverse and beautiful country.

While braaing meat is a social activity that is beloved by most South Africans,I say most,as I hardly believe that religions such as Hinduism for example,celebrate their culture or religion with slabs of meat over the coals.The purpose of Heritage Day is to celebrate and understand all cultures in South Africa,not to celebrate one social activity as symbolic of a nation.

So on Heritage Day ask your Cape Malay neighbour about the recipes that were handed down from their forefathers who were slaves,or the Afrikaaner about the reason they enjoy a potjie,or the Zulu why carrying a spear is so significant.

Let us unite as nation that is still struggling with a past of enforced racial and cultural segregation.

Lest we forget…….

By Wesley Fester


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