Sure, National Braai Day is about more than “tjop-and-dop”, right?
24 September was originally Shaka Day. Every year people would gather around his grave and pay homage to the late great king. However, with the election of the new democratic party, the day was omitted – much to the dismay of the Inkatha Freedom Party. But they reached a compromise, and the middle ground was to celebrate Heritage Day for ALL South Africans.
So, instead of celebrating one particular culture, we get to celebrate all cultures and the one overreaching culture that bonds us together: being South African.
Just like the Irish have St Patrick’s Day and the French have Bastille Day, Heritage Day calls on South Africans to embrace the true meaning of why we call ourselves the Rainbow Nation. Learning about one another’s culture and celebrating our differences builds tolerance and acceptance and make us realize that there are many things we have in common too.
Why is it dubbed National Braai Day then? Mzansi Braai Institute tapped into the collective trait that every South African citizen loves a good braai and came up with the idea that despite our mixed heritage and different traditions, all Rainbow Nation citizens enjoy the fellowship of community that a braai brings. Some call it Shisa Nyama or Ukosa, while others call it a braai or even barbeque; whatever you call it, truth is, nothing beats it! And so, at the start of spring every year, it’s time to raise our glasses to the clear blue sky and to cook up a succulent future.
Amazingly, many South Africans don’t know that Desmond Tutu, our internationally renowned Archbishop, was appointed patron and national spokesperson of South African Braai Day. And since becoming the patron he has been quoted saying: “We’re going to have this wonderful thing on the 24th of this month … when we all gather around one fire.”
Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day, but whatever you choose to do, enjoy this Braai Day with friends and family. Use this public holiday to reflect on the difficult journey we have all travelled, to remember those who have lost their lives but also at the same time to rejoice in the remarkable and diverse heritage of our beautiful country.
Let’s do the Jerusalema dance and talk to our kids about diversity and all the identities South Africa incorporates. Tell them about your own traditions and beliefs, and show them how to respect those of others. Show them how to make a fire (maybe the traditional way with sticks?). Make dough together to grill stick bread, and allow them to make their own skewers.
National Braai Day is something we can all look forward to. So, gather family and friends and whip up a feast to celebrate and recognise the cultural wealth of our nation.
Happy Heritage Day!
Source: africantravelcanvas.com, nationalday.com, diary.wine.co.za, gov.za, news24.com, travelground.com, 1-grid.com
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