South Africa celebrates Reconciliation Month

14 December 2015

South Africans should be encouraged during this year’s Reconciliation Month, running throughout December, to reach out to one another and help to build a united nation, according to the Department of Arts and Culture.

This year’s Reconciliation Month takes place under the theme, “Bridging the divide: building a common South African nationhood towards a national developmental state”.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa launched Reconciliation Month at the end of November at the War Museum in Bloemfontein, where he unveiled plaque in the Garden of Remembrance to honour men, women and children who perished in the concentration camps of the South African War – or Anglo Boer War – that was fought between 1899 and 1902.

The minister also opened the Sol Plaatjie Exhibition space, which looks at the participation of black people in that war.

“Reconciliation Month says that we ought to be walking this common road hand-in-hand, conscious of our past and confident of our future, no longer at the mercy of systems that divided us into black and white and men and women and saw no measure of equality between us,” he said.

“Reconciliation Month reminds us that in 1994 with the first democratic elections, we set South Africa on the pathway towards a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous reality characterised by nation-building and social cohesion and a better life for all.”

Origins

The Day of Reconciliation is an annual public holiday observed on 16 December. It was previously known as Dingane’s Day and Day of the Vow. It is a significant day in South African history; its origins can be traced to the Battle of Blood River in 1838. The Voortrekker army defeated the Zulu army at the battle in the Ncome River, which was fought over land ownership.

This year’s Reconciliation Month will focus on recognising and highlighting the trials and tribulations of the Khoi and San people and the role they played in the liberation struggles against colonialism and apartheid.

Source: Department of Arts and Culture