Text: Michelle Marais
Although the day itself has been of significant meaning to the Zulu for a number of years, Heritage Day is a fairly new holiday to the South African public. Before 1995, the 24th of September was celebrated in KwaZulu-Natal as Shaka Day; a day honouring the legendary Zulu king Shaka who played an enormous role in uniting the disparate tribes of South Africa.
When the South African parliament was considering the bill of public holidays, Shaka Day was omitted. But following protests by the Inkatha Freedom Party (which had a large Zulu representation), a compromise was reached and the day was renamed Heritage Day and included in the bill with the purpose to encourage South Africans to celebrate their cultural heritage and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions.
In 2005, a media campaign sought to rebrand Heritage Day as National Braai Day but the name was short-lived and was replaced with Braai4Heritage in 2007. On 5 September 2007, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Emeritus Archbishop Doctor Desmond Tutu was appointment as Braai4Heritage’s patron. The initiative also received the endorsement of South Africa’s National Heritage Council (NHC). On 2 September 2008, whilst cooking steak at a Braai4Heritage launch event, Tutu said, “Countries with strong social cohesion become strong nations. This is why it is important to celebrate our common national heritage through truly South African features. And what is more South African than shisa nyama?”
Both Heritage Day and the subsequent Braai4Heritage initiative have played a big role in motivating South Africans to celebrate their diversity as well as their common roots. We asked a few of Quirk Cape Town’s brave, curios minds what Heritage Day means to them, and why, whether they’re having a braai, shisa nyama or ukosa, it’s important to cherish this tradition.
In celebration of Heritage Day this year, Cape Town’s Quirkstars went back to their roots by dressing up in cultural attire and sharing some traditional cuisine with each other. As judged by our office presidents Matt Willis and Anne Pao, the prize for Best Traditional Outfit went to Account Director Nikki Depene who proudly wore her German dirndl, while the prize for Best Traditional Treat went to Front-End Engineer Kapeesh Manilal who delighted with his Indian snacks: mithai and samosas.
Here’s to Nelson Mandela, Dr. Christian Barnard and Steve Biko,
to the Drakensberg, Wittenberg and Table Mountain,
to the oceans, Atlantic and Indian,
to the Karoo, the Kalahari and the Kruger,
to rugby, cricket and soccer,
to biltong, bobotie and koeksisters,
to all eleven official languages and the people who speak them.
Here’s to many more years of celebrating Mzansi’s magic.