What is Heritage month and why is it important?

By Thina Dlamini

Before 1994 in the province of KwaZulu-Natal there was no such thing as Heritage Day or National Braai Day it was first known as Shaka Day however that all changed after Black South Africans gained the right to vote in the first democratic elections which took place in April of that year.  Written by Thina Dlamini 

In KwaZulu-Natal the day was used to pay homage to the late King Shaka Zulu who had been assassinated by his brother Dingane in 1824.  Back then the holiday was known as Shaka’s Day however that changed in 1994 after the first democratic elections at first the suggestion of including all other ethnicities of South Africa was met with mixed reactions from other political parties such as the Inkhata Freedom Party (IFP) who predominantly had a Zulu Membership especially in the province the province of KwaZulu-Natal which back then was known as Natal.  

In a unanimous decision the name Shaka’s day was changed to National Heritage day this way it would be more inclusive with all the cultures that make up South Africa and it was also used to create a sense of unity amongst the citizens after the disassembling of oppression towards members of the BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Colour).  Today Heritage Day is a public holiday celebrated on the 24th of September each year as a way of celebrating and acknowledging the women and men who fought for the freedom of South Africa and to show that we were all created equally regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, social class. 

The constitution allows you to practice your culture and spiritual without being ostracized for it.  Ubuntu (Humanity) is what we can describe the cultural diversity as, however the initial translation of Ubuntu which is translated from Zulu as “humanity towards other people “.   In Xhosa there is a saying that goes like this, “Umntu ugumntu ngabantu (which means I am because we are) which is used to connect South Africans regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, religion and their social background doesn’t matter at all.  

24th of September is not only Heritage day it also National Braai day the public holiday allows people to socialize with their friends and family  over good food.  

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