South Africa is filled with rich, vibrant, and diverse cultures, so on September 24, celebrate Heritage Day—an annual holiday that encourages South Africans to celebrate their roots. Originally, Heritage Day was known as Shaka Day, a holiday that commemorated King Shaka, the King of Zulu—a king who was popular for uniting the many tribes, clans and cultures of South Africa. Although the name has changed, the purpose of Heritage Day has remained the same: for South Africans to come together as one and celebrate their shared values and cultures.
Heritage Day timeline
The holiday is finally embraced
After belittling it in 2007, the National Heritage Council endorses National Heritage Day
A national spokesperson is named
After years of celebrating Heritage Day, Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, is appointed the holiday's national spokesperson
It's officially added to the bill
Varying political parties agree to add the commemoration to the bill under the new name of Heritage Day
The day is jeopardized
The commemoration was not added to the Public Holidays Bill, meaning the holiday would no longer be recognized
It begins as a commemoration
Heritage Day began as a holiday known as Shaka Day, a day that commemorated the death of King Shaka Zulu
Heritage Day Activities
Host a BBQ
South Africa is home to many delicious cuisines, so celebrate Heritage Day by inviting your friends and family to a barbecue that will feature a variety of these delicious foods. Popular options include bobotie (spiced minced meat with an egg-based topping), boerewors (sausage), antelope, chakalaka (a spicy vegetable relish), and pap (porridge).
Indulge in South Africa’s arts and culture
Heritage Day is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself into the arts and culture of South Africa by attending a concert, exhibit, or museum, such as the District Six Museum, the Origins Museum, and the Transvaal Museum.
Spread the love on social media
Social media allows you to spread awareness for the things you love and are passionate about, enriching your life and the community that interacts with you. On September 24, be sure to use Heritage Day hashtags, such as #heritageday, #celebrateheritage, and #rainbownation.
5 Mouthwatering Facts About Bobotie
It's a dish with history
Since the 17th century, Bobotie has been known in the Cape of Good Hope, being made with mutton and pork
The Dutch published it first
The first known bobotie recipe was featured in a Dutch cookbook in 1609
A South African poet publishes his own recipe
C. Louis Leipoldt, a South African poet published a cookbook in 1933 featuring his personal recipe for bobotie: finely minced meat, breadcrumbs, butter, milk, onions and a curry sauce made with spices, sugar, chili pepper, lemon juice, and vinegar.
It featured at the most exclusive dinner in golf
Trevor Immelman, a South African native and 2008 Masters golf champion, opted to have bobotie be the featured menu item at the Augusta National's annual "Champions Dinner" in 2009
It made a visit to Disney's Epcot
At the 2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, bobotie made it on the menu
Why We Love Heritage Day
It celebrates South Africa’s rich heritage
On this day, South Africans are encouraged to get in touch with their roots by wearing traditional garb and colorful frocks, eating their many delicious signature dishes, and connecting with family and friends.
It emphasizes unity
The Braai 4 Heritage initiative was created to ensure that Heritage Day was about celebrating a unified culture—not a divisive culture. Because of this, Braai 4 Heritage asks South Africans to participate in Heritage Day by celebrating their roots by throwing a barbecue.
It’s the result of a compromise
Before Heritage Day came to be, South African's celebrated a holiday known as Shaka Day. However, when a Public Holidays Bill was introduced into the New South African Parliament in the 1990s, this holiday was not included, creating a riff within the Inkatha Freedom Party—a political party with many Zulu constituents—and leading to the rejection of the Bill. As a compromise, Heritage Day was suggested, and ultimately agreed upon by all political parties.