How we define heritage and culture
a) Definition of Heritage
b) Definition of Culture
Quotes from Presidents
“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation. We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy.”
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, 23 September 1996, Uitenhage in Eastern Cape.
Days of historic significance
When South Africa became a democratic state in 1994, the new government decided that the history of the country should be proudly celebrated by all South Africans. Significant days of the calendar marking historic events and turning points in the struggle for liberation were declared public holidays. This was one of the efforts of the government of national unity to remind all its citizens of where the country has experienced to earn the democracy that is presently enjoyed by all. Other days were declared public holidays to give the citizens an opportunity to unite and build one nation.
The public holidays for celebration and commemoration that will always be part of the heritage of South Africa are:
21 March – Heritage Day
27 April – Freedom Day
1 May – Worker’s Day
25 May – Africa Day
16 June – Youth Day
9 August – Women’s Day
16 December – Reconciliation Day
Tip: The Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994) dictates that when a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following it will be a public holiday.
Our national holidays and their historic backgrounds.
Human Rights Day – 21 March
In 1952, the Native Laws Amendment Act extended Government control over the movement of Africans to urban areas and abolished the use of the Pass Book in favour of a reference book that had to be carried by all Africans at all times.
Failure to produce the reference book on demand was a punishable offence, so the Pan-African Congress proposed an anti-pass campaign to start on 21 March 1960. All African men were to refuse to show their passes and to present themselves for arrest.
Campaigners gathered at police stations near Johannesburg. At the Sharpeville police station a scuffle broke out and part of a wire fence was trampled, allowing the crowd to move forward. The police opened fire, killing 69 people and wounding 180.
What happens next?
In apartheid South Africa, this day became known as Sharpeville Day and although it was not part of the official calendar of public holidays, the event was commemorated by anti-apartheid movements.
Then, in 1996, in post-apartheid South Africa, the Constitution provided for the establishment of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC); its aim: to promote respect for human rights; to protect, develop and attain of human rights; and to monitor and assess the observance of human rights in South Africa.
The SAHRC was launched on 21 March 1996, 35 years after the fateful events of 21 March 1960, and this is why we celebrate Human Rights Day on this date..
10 ways to celebrate our Heritage
- Find out what is the theme for this years’ Heritage Day celebrations and where the nearest public event will be held.
- Explore and discover our country by visiting heritage sites, museums, zoo or an elderly in the family or community.
- Learn the story of our flag – Did you know that our flag is the third most recognised flag in the world? It is also certainly one of the most loved by its people. Show your true colours and fly our flag – be an ambassador for South Africa and fly our flag in thought, word and deed. Take time to find out more about our national symbols (….list them here…).
- Celebrate our successes and share your life story; we have a lot to be proud of – we continue to inspire the world to a new way of doing things, because our unique combinations create refreshing possibilities.
- Learn our anthem – We must be the only country to have a national anthem composed in five different languages. Our anthem, with its different languages and its different tunes, is a reflection of the diversity of our nation, and the words of each verse proudly proclaim the love we all have for this awesome country.
- Recognise the role our past has played in shaping what South Africa has become today – read up on the parts of our history that you don’t know or haven’t thought of since you were a child. Read the biographies of some of South Africa’s awesome heroes and heroines. Remember the challenges and celebrate the successes.
- Get together with friends, family and neighbours to share a traditional meal and a great conversation about the good old days. Share stories and knowledge about cultural practices, traditions, ‘feel good’ stories and jokes.
- Learn one more of our 12 languages, including Khoi San, or at least some greetings and exciting phrases. Explore the culture attached to it – learn more about the other races of the South African nation and open your eyes to the amazing diversity of South Africa’s people.
- Celebrate our progressive constitution – no other country in the world is blessed with a constitution like ours – it’s one of the most progressive in the world. You can celebrate and commemorate this by exercising your democratic rights and respecting the rights of others to begin with.
- Live “Ubuntu” – “I am because we are” – show hospitality and warmth to fellow countrymen and visitors alike.
Mostly, it is about togetherness and teamwork, attributes that have helped to build the rainbow nation and that will keep the rainbow intact for years to come.
World Heritage Sites of South Africa
- Maloti-Drakensberg Park (2000, 2013)