Heritage Day is one of the newly created South African public holidays. It is a day in which we are encouraged to celebrate our cultural traditions in the wider context of the great diversity of cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up the nation of South Africa.
As South Africans, we celebrate Heritage Day by remembering the cultures that make up our population. This national holiday is steeped in history, a day when all South Africans reflect on what it means to be part of the rainbow nation – celebrating our diversity.
Heritage Day was not originally intended to be an official South African public holiday, but when the Public Holiday Bill presented in 1995, did not have 24 September included as a proposed public holiday, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), objected. In KwaZulu Natal (traditionally an IFP stronghold), the day was observed as Shaka Day, after the legendary King Shaka Zulu. After negotiations, a compromise was reached and the day was given to its present title and recognised as an official public holiday.
Spend this Heritage Day, by celebrating our diversity and all that makes us unique as a country
In 2005, a media campaign sought to ‘rebrand’ the holiday as National Braai Day, in recognition of the South African culinary tradition of holding informal backyard barbeques or braais. On 5 September 2007, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, celebrated his appointment as patron of South Africa’s Braai Day, affirming it to be a unifying force in a divided country – by donning an apron & tucking into a boerewors sausage.