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From Shaka to Braai Day: The story of our Heritage

On Heritage Day, we proudly celebrate the diversity of our South Africa. In this country of opportunities and welcoming, we celebrate that we are a product of an intricate interaction of cultures by honouring our various traditions and customs.

Heritage Day

Heritage Day was never planned as a public holiday. In fact, the 24th of September was originally known as Shaka Day – a day to commemorate King Shaka Zulu who used his spear to bring together people from various tribes and clans under one cultural blanket.

He was the driving force behind uniting the scattered Zulu clans into one solid nation. It is indeed quite symbolic that a day like Heritage Day, with its strong message of unity and acceptance, grew from such an event.

When the Public Holidays Bill was presented to the South African Parliament, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) which to this day represents a large community of Zulus, demanded that the 24th of September be included as well. A compromise was reached when this day was declared Heritage Day.

Nowadays, although still widely accepted as Heritage Day, 24 September has unofficially become known as National Braai Day. This after Jan Braai campaigned for the public holiday to be referred to as such. Indeed, incorporating this nationally favoured activity makes it that much more ‘South African’.

It’s a matter of personal preference how you are going to celebrate this Heritage Day. Whether it’s a quiet get-together with your family or attending a mass braai, Heritage Day celebrates its own heritage by uniting people and getting them together in under the beautiful South African sky.

By Laura Macek, Journalism and Content Intern at Who’s Who