Heritage Day blurs our differences

Thousand of people gathered at Fountain Valley to walk to the Union Building on Heritage Day. People were dressed in their traditional clothing to show of their culture.
Thousand of people gathered at Fountain Valley to walk to the Union Building on Heritage Day. People were dressed in their traditional clothing to show of their culture.
Image: KABELO MOKOENA

The nation marked Heritage Day on Monday, a day meant to celebrate that which makes us proud of who we are and our roots - diverse and yet united as South Africans.

The day has its origin as Shaka Day, celebrated mainly if not exclusively, by those in the then KwaZulu homeland and only for Zulus.

However, in the post-1994 democratic era it has evolved, pretty much by design, into an all-embracing holiday, supposedly engraving one nationhood of the many diverse strands that eventually work themselves into the greater tapestry that is SA.

But, is the day serving the purpose envisaged by the founding fathers of our democracy when they selected the holidays that would forge a nation out of peoples - of all races - brutalised by centuries of colonial rule and apartheid?

"No" would be the answer many would proffer, especially over the past few months when several incidents of racism have cast doubt on the notion of a common nationhood across racial division.

We have had no illusions that SA's would be an easy stroll down the avenue of nation building, given the history of this land.

South Africans took to Twitter on Heritage Day under #HeritageDay on September 24 2018 to show their pride through cultural dress and traditional dance. Here's some of the most touching posts.

The glue that binds us across racial and ethnic divide has over the years since 1994, been frequently stretched to its very limits, but the loyalty to this country and the undying dream of what we can make of this beautiful land has made us stay the course.

The observant would have noticed how, despite how highly politicised - and for good reason - that the average South African is, the commemorations of the day this time around were largely devoid of politicking. The news is less about which politicians said what than ordinary, everyday people marking the day beautifully in their diversity.

The initiative has rightly swung back to the people to carry the day - pardon the pun - and forge ahead to build a country of which we can all be proud. There happened to be an interesting debate on a regional radio station about whether it was appropriate of white people to be seen wearing traditional gear known to be 'black'?

It was very encouraging hearing South Africans opine honestly on that which can help us hurry along to embrace whatever brings us together as South Africans - diverse in our unity.

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