Is Heritage Day really celebrating SA’s heritage?

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Read Mia Andric's comments...

The 24th of September was Heritage Day in South Africa. The public holiday was marked by political speeches and Heritage Day “celebrations” around the country, but while it is intended to “promulgate a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict”, the day has become better known as National Braai Day.

Image credit: Copyright: lcswart

This was the brainchild of Jan Scannell, also known as Jan Braai, who embarked on a campaign to have Heritage Day associated with National Braai Day a few years ago. The campaign was so successful that people have started calling it Braai Day only. In fact, leading news outlets have taken to publishing articles about the best way to braai meat and the best apps to use on Braai Day, with less attention paid to the “heritage” part of Heritage Day.

Jan Braai is also responsible for the competition, now in its third year, for the South African of the Year. “Our intention is to highlight exceptional performances by South Africans that bring the country to a standstill, and to acknowledge the special moments where the hearts of the nation beat together, united in pride,” the National Braai Day website says.

“In tune with all activities of the National Braai Day initiative, South African of the Year is being run as a non-profit project with the sole purpose of enhancing the Heritage Day public holiday on September 24 every year as South Africa’s national day of celebration.”

Last year's winner was Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk, and this year the honour went to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Only five finalists were listed for the award: long jump World Champion Luvo Manyonga, Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu, the Blitzbokke, tennis player Kevin Anderson, and Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Mogoeng garnered nearly two thirds of the vote (63%), followed by the Blitzbokke with 21% and Kevin Anderson at 16% of the 37 427 votes cast. In nominating him, the panel of journalists and other experts who came up with the five candidates said that “he has proven to be a beacon of morality that provides a light for others to follow. He is consistent in choosing what is right and lawful, and demonstrates commitment to serving the people of South Africa above all.”

The high volume of votes seems to indicate that most South Africans agree. Mogoeng, who has held his position as Chief Justice since 2011, has been in the media a great deal this year as a result of adjudicating several high-profile Constitutional Court cases, including the one determining that the parliamentary speaker had the choice of whether to hold a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma via secret ballot.

While highlighting worthy representatives of our country is a laudable initiative, and while braaiing is certainly a national pastime, South Africans should be asking themselves whether focusing on these as representative of Heritage Day dilutes the stated aim of the holiday.

Image credit: Copyright: lcswart / 123RF Stock Photo


African Fusion

AfricanFusionAfrican Fusion, the official publication of the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW), aims to provide up-to-date insight into welding technology and the welding industry.

Capital Equipment News

Capital Equipment News is dedicated to the application of equipment and modes of transport that are used in the mining, construction, quarrying, and transport industries.

Construction World

ConstructionWorldConstruction World was first published in 1982 and has grown to become a leader in its field, offering a unique mix of editorial coverage to satisfy the diverse needs of its readers.

Electricity + Control

ElectricityandControlE + C publishes innovative, technical articles that provide solutions to engineering challenges in measurement, automation, control, and energy management.

Lighting in Design

LightingandDesignLighting in Design is a glossy, upmarket publication aimed at lighting professionals. It is the only B2B magazine in SA that is dedicated solely to the subject of lighting.

MechChem Africa

MechChemJanuary2017cover MechChem Africa supports African engineering and technical managers across the full spectrum of chemical and mechanical disciplines.

Modern Mining

ModernMiningEstablished in 2005, Modern Mining is one of SA's leading monthly mining magazines, noted for the quality and accuracy of its writing and the breadth of its coverage.

Modern Quarrying

ModernQuarryingModern Quarrying is firmly entrenched as a leading industry-specific magazine. It focuses on promoting the science and practice of quarrying and processing in southern Africa.

Sparks Electrical News

SparksElectricalNewsReadable and informative, Sparks Electrical News is the newspaper for those involved in installing and maintaining electrical supplies and equipment.

Full Name*
Invalid Input

Company Name*
Invalid Input

Your Email*
Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Postal Address 1*
Invalid Input

Postal Address 2*
Invalid Input

Postal Code*
Invalid Input

Street Address 1
Invalid Input

Street Address 2
Invalid Input

Postal Code
Invalid Input

Town / City*
Invalid Input

Invalid Input


Invalid Input

Invalid Input