24th September is known as National Heritage Day in South Africa
Heritage Day is a celebration of not only the past but of the contribution that the South African people make. Heritage Day recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of the nation. It recognizes the various cultural heritages that make up the populace of South Africa. South Africa has a diverse cultural heritage that is rich and that embraces the various cultural groups and their uniqueness.
There are various events that are staged across the nation to commemorate this day, where a platform is created for communities to showcase the various aspects of South Africa. Heritage Day is a contribution to the education of the South African Youth which aims at bridging the inter-generational gap.
The first Heritage Day that took place was in 1995, after the first free elections that took place and ended apartheid while ushering in a non-racially based democracy. The roots of Heritage Day are edged in a holiday that was celebrated in Kwazulu Natal. The holiday was a commemoration of the great chief of the Zulu tribe, King Shaka Zulu.
A bill was being passed in 1995 by the South African government to establish South Africa’s official public holidays, when the Zulu people objected that Shaka Day had not been included. A compromise was reached to keep the date but to broaden the scope of the public holiday and allow it to encompass all the cultures, thus renaming it Heritage Day.
The South African government defines heritage as everything that the people inherit. This is inclusive of the various cultures, history, wildlife, monuments, artwork, literature, music, folklore, languages, culinary traditions and many more. Each year the South African government declares a theme for that year. This year’s theme was the year of OR Tambo: Celebrating our Liberation Heritage.
TUB commemorated Heritage Day by dressing up in the various cultural attires. The best dressed male and female each received a voucher from the company. Once the processions concluded lunch was held. The employees each got to prepare a cultural dish for their designated groups.