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Day of Reconciliation: What is it about?

Historical 16 December was commemorated as the ‘Day of the Vow’, also known as ‘Day of the Covenant’ or Dingaan’s Day.

The 16th of December is an annual public holiday celebrated across the country and was inaugurated to help South Africans reconcile the horror of the events of the past and the promise of a shared future together, regardless of race, culture or creed.

The holiday came into effect in 1994 after the end of apartheid, with the intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity.

The date was chosen because it was significant to both Afrikaner and African cultures in SA.

Historical 16 December was commemorated as the ‘Day of the Vow’, also known as ‘Day of the Covenant’ or Dingaan’s Day. The Day of the Vow was a religious holiday commemorating the Voortrekker victory over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838 and is still celebrated by some Afrikaners.

On the other side of the political spectrum, 16 December is also the anniversary of the 1961 founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

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