Heritage vs Braai

Why braai specifically? At what cost? Our entire heritage?

September 24 is supposed to be a joyous occasion, a day which celebrates the diverse traditions passed down to us as South Africans, inclusive of all races, ethnicities and cultural groups.

This by definition, is something called heritage; hence the day is officially recognized as National Heritage Day.

There have been attempts of recent, quite successful attempts if you ask me, to unofficially rename the day “National Braai Day”

I don’t want to get much into the history of the day, but a little recap won’t hurt anyone.

The day was formerly called Shaka Day, set aside to celebrate the militant Zulu King; obviously excluding all the other South African cultural groups in the process.

To counter this, the then government of national unity decided to rename the day National Heritage Day, aimed at celebrating our overall heritage as a country and not just Zulu heritage.

But what is our heritage anyway as South Africans?

Is it donning ourselves in colourful proudly South African traditional costumes, or indulging in delectable indigenous delicacies like fried termites or bobotie?

Or does it have to do with the more intangible substance of who we are, like our history, pre-1652 through to 1994 and beyond?

Does our heritage not have to do with how we incorporate the diverse elements our past encompasses, and how we then relay these stories to future generations to shape a better South Africa?

Mapungubwe, Die Dromedaris, Sharpville Massacre, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Steve Biko, Chris Barnard, the list is endless.

How one relatively minute part of our heritage, i.e. braai, came to replace the concept of celebrating a rich diverse history and heritage of a unique nation, is truly beyond me.

Could it be that we are not ready to face our past as is?

Indiscriminately, and without being selective.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

If the argument is that ‘braai is a part of our heritage,’ then allow me to ask this: how much more is braai South African heritage than mogodu, umqombothi or even biltong are?

Why braai specifically?

At what cost?

Our entire heritage?

This whole debate says to me that there are those among us, who 23 years after the dawn of democracy are still intolerant of one another.

We therefore, have to go back to the drawing board and come up with new solutions on how to move forward because it has become quite evident that the ‘rainbow nation’ depiction was nothing but a scam.

We have to initiate discourse around the uncomfortable issues we choose to skirt around daily, not only on Heritage Day but on any other day.

So whether you’ll be sitting around a braai this Heritage Day, or embroiled in the social media war as to what this day should be called, or maybe like me however unlikely, you’ll be juggling three jobs…Happy Heritage Day!


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