By Anne Taylor
23 September 2013
September 24 is Heritage Day in South Africa – a public holiday intended to focus the nation’s attention on the importance of South Africa’s diverse cultural heritage and traditions. It is a day when we are called on to find unity in our diversity.
“When our first democratically elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation. We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy.” – Nelson Mandela, Heritage Day speech, 1996
This year’s theme, set by the government, is “reclaiming, restoring and celebrating our living heritage”. In Cape Town, entrance to all Iziko museums will be free during heritage week, from 23 to 29 September.
- Read about the in_herit festival at Cape Town’s Company Gardens and other Heritage Day activities on Play Your Part: Celebrate SA’s rich heritage
For many South Africans, Heritage Day is also unofficially national braai day. Originally the initiative of Jan Scannell, known as Jan Braai, South Africans haven’t needed much encouragement to light a fire and braai. Yes, you can barbeque anywhere, but you can only braai in South Africa!
“It is called many things: Chisa Nyama, Braai and Ukosa to name few. Although the ingredients may differ, the one thing that never changes is that when we have something to celebrate we light fires, and prepare great feasts,” Jan writes on his website, braai.com.
In a recent inteview with NPR, Jan uses boerewors (a South African sausage) as the perfect analogy to describe the rainbow nation: “You’ve got sausage-making skills from Europe that came with the European settlers to Africa. Then you’ve got spices and the knowledge of how to use them from the East, stuff like coriander, nutmeg, cloves and then in Africa it was very typical to cook all your food on a fire.”
Smoke, charred meat and a cold beer – what’s not to love? See you across the flames tomorrow.
- Read more on SouthAfrica.info: Celebrate South Africa on Braai Day
- Jan Braai’s Top 10 braai tips on CapeTownMagazine.com