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During the year 2020, on Thursday 24 September, South Africans will be celebrating their 26th Heritage Day holiday in numerous ways. Looking back to the dawn of democracy in 1994, South Africa unleashed all sorts of possibilities. Amongst them was possibly celebrating significant events in our past history such as the Sharpeville Massacre of the 21 March 1960 where 69 people were murdered as well as the June 16 Uprising where Hector Peterson became the first historic victim.
These events were sad chapters in our history as a nation, albeit they were turned into something positive such as Human Rights Day and Youth Day by the democratic government of the people. For the purpose of this issue of Soweto Sunrise News, I want to offer specifically my thoughts on Heritage Day. As far as I can give thought, the inspiration behind the celebration of Heritage Day was adapted from the annual celebration of Shaka Day in the Province of KwaZulu Natal which was a commemoration of Shaka Zulu’s magnificent heroism.
The day is meant to celebrate our unity in diversity as it traditionally captured Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the “Rainbow Nation”. Our expressions take many different forms, that is the food we eat, the languages we speak, the clothes we wear and how we conduct our cultures and traditions. Significantly it gives us an opportunity to draw from our past those unique features in order to appreciate and build something new. In addition, it allows us to take responsibility and ownership of what we regard as sovereign as a nation and country. When you affirm the diverse expressions of a people, then you are essentially affirming who they are. By extension you are actually affirm their human rights in accordance with our Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution.
Further on, our celebration of Heritage Day is a demonstration of our continuity and connectivity with the former generations who lived in this part of Africa. In other words, Heritage Day is an attempt to help us understand where we come from as people and country, and that presents our identity as a people. As a Christian minister, I think our deepest and most important heritage is that we are all made in the Image of God both male and female according to the Scriptures. And because of this realization, it means we have worth as human beings. Since, we are made in God’s image as people we need to value one another irrespective of gender or status.
As you will be celebrating this day in whatever you will be doing, please take time to remembers others too, especially those you think are different from you, they have right to celebrate their heritage too and no-one has to be excluded. Cheers enjoy your Heritage month.
Kenneth Cyril Sebaeng Soweto Sunrise News