Contralesa lobbies for a public holiday for ‘Ancestors’ Day’ every May 8

11 May 2022 - 10:24
By Unathi Nkanjeni
May 8 is meant to celebrate and acknowledge African spirituality. File photo.
Image: 123RF/pinkomelet May 8 is meant to celebrate and acknowledge African spirituality. File photo.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) has called for government to declare Ancestors’ Day a public holiday. 

The day is on May 8 and is meant to celebrate and acknowledge African spirituality. 

The National House of Traditional Leaders and the National Khoisan Council  recognise the public holiday and are pushing for a formal change at national government level.

Speaking on eNCA, Contralesa general secretary Zolani Mkiva said African spirituality should be elevated.

He said the day won’t be “romanticised” but will be dedicated to reflection, prayer and appeasement of the ancestors.

“It’s about a positive instalment towards the total liberation of our people. It is about a change in mindset to say for too long we are a people terrorised and demonised by a system of colonialism and apartheid, but it is time for us to decolonise, to emancipate that voice,” Mkiva said.

Mkiva said the call was to ensure government places spirituality at the centre of the trajectory the country must go through going forward.

SA has 12 public holidays in 2022, including an additional day off on May 2 in observance of Workers’ Day on May 1. 

This is in line with the Public Holidays Act 36 of 1994 which determines that whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a public holiday.  

Sangoma and spiritual storyteller Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi told TshisaLIVE the day would help rewrite the history and narrative around African spirituality. 

“Spirituality is not just about healing. People assume it is about aboGogo, but it is about the political system, it is about health and the economic system and the social, about how we relate socially. Being invested in rewriting that history is remarkable,” she said.