Our heritage is reduced to a braai because we have few things left to celebrate
I’m hopeful there will be more to celebrate and be happy about in SA 20 years from now than a braai.
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Between the arguments of cultural appropriation and divisive political rhetoric, Heritage Day on Sunday will come with our parties on the day that our overlords declared is appropriate to celebrate.
Most of us will do what we’ve mostly been doing; having a braai.
The day has been dubbed “National Braai Day” by many and that’s probably because it’s one of the few things left to celebrate.
No matter how shoddy the state gets, one thing they can’t get their greedy mitts on is the weather, so let’s spend Sunday at least appreciating that. It’s something to look forward to because the rest of our heritage doesn’t seem to be.
Heritage should be something important. We are so rich in it; so diverse and if each heritage would be placed on an asset register, South Africa would have a wonderful balance sheet.
Instead, it’s becoming less something to celebrate and more something to be weary of. It’s become less important and more a nice to have. Nobody is excited about their culture when the R350 meant to sustain them that month arrives late.
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It’s not like the powers that be take heritage seriously either. A whole R200 million gone to pot on setting up an empty Women’s Living Heritage Monument in Tshwane. At least the security guards still have jobs, though I’m not sure what they’re protecting.
We look back on our varied heritage to have something to feel proud of and that is difficult to do, no matter how rich that heritage is.
Yeah, you can be proud of your son for playing in the Under 9B rugby team but if he lands up in jail for murder years later, those tries he scored won’t do it for you anymore. South Africa isn’t doing it for its citizens anymore either.
Celebrating heritage is great though it now feels like a distraction from the work our collective heritage was supposed to lend itself to.
The whole unity in diversity is a great catch phrase. It would be even greater if it meant anything in the real world.
We’re told to celebrate this diversity as if it’s a good thing and it should be a good thing.
A TV is a lovely thing and I have no idea how it works but I do know when I push the button, it turns on.
Diversity also sounds lovely and I have no idea how it should work but when I look out at South Africa, I haven’t seen it working. We keep pushing this diversity button and the country just doesn’t seem to switch on.
Some may be tempted to look at this and claim diversity isn’t the answer, but that would be a shallow interpretation and one that will just be more divisive.
Like so many other possible solutions, on its own, diversity is merely a tool in the bigger mix of potential assets in South Africa’s repertoire.
So, enjoy your potjie, mopane worms and bobotie. Put some boerewors and brootjies on the braai and pour a double and a half brannas and cola. Anybody knows, we deserve at least that.
And as you ask yourself, “is this really the heritage we’ve built? Do centuries of development, war and life on the southern tip of Africa just result in meat on a fire?” Remind yourself that we are so much more than a braai and though we may be reluctant to act on it, we can still be so much more than we are. We should be.
Our history is rich but that is in the past. There’s nothing we can do but celebrate it but it shouldn’t stop there. Because in 20 years’ time, I’m hopeful that there will be more to celebrate and be happy about than Sunday’s braai.
A rich history is nice to remember. A rich future would be nicer to obtain.
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