24 September is Heritage Day in South Africa, and we know that our country is a melting pot of different cultures. Heritage Day is a day where we reflect and celebrate the cultural diversity of our beautiful country. What is sometimes unclear, however, is how this particular day came to be. A lot of people know 24 September is a public holiday, but do we realise why Heritage Day and Heritage Month came to be? And a big one, how do we celebrate Heritage Day in 2021 in the time of COVID-19? Well, we’re answering some frequently asked questions about Heritage Day starting with the origins of the day and the month. 

How did Heritage Day start? 

African Travel Compass states that September 24th was originally Shaka Day. A day that commemorated the great Zulu king Shaka Zulu. Every year people would gather at his grave and pay homage to the late great king. With the election of the new democratic parliament, however, the day was omitted, much to the dismay of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a political party with a Zulu majority. They reached a compromise, and the middle ground was to celebrate Heritage Day for all South Africans. And that’s how, instead of celebrating one particular culture, we celebrate all cultures and the one overreaching culture that bonds us together; being a South African. 

Why Heritage Day is important 

Heritage month is important because it seeks to recognise and celebrate the different cultures that make up South Africa’s rich cultural fabric. Promoting cultural diversity and inclusivity plays a large part in maintaining a rich cultural diversity in South Africa. 

What is the meaning of Heritage Day? 

Heritage Day is a day where the nation can celebrate our multi-cultural heritage and diversity of its people. 

A Heritage Day quote by Nelson Mandela reminds us why the public holiday was started and why it’s so significant – “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. In the vein of celebrating shared culture rather than focusing on cultural divisions.”

How is Heritage Day celebrated? 

Heritage Day is a public holiday for South Africans to remember and pay homage to the various cultures that make up the South African cultural fabric. From spoken word to cultural traditions, performance, rituals, indigenous knowledge systems and techniques, our county’s living heritage plays an essential role in reclaiming and restoring these cultural heritages to address the challenges faced by societies today. Most often, we celebrate the day with a typical South African braai, surrounded by friends and family.

How to celebrate Heritage Day in 2021:

How can you show national pride and celebrate the day as a small business?

A tangible way to show national pride is to register a .co.za domain for your business – that demarcates that your business is South African. Also, consider a .africa extension to denote your African pride and to target a local market.