[Disclaimer: I started writing this yesterday and I finished writing it today. So the dates are a bit muddled up and I’ve probably repeated myself. Just go with it.]
What do you get when you mix a splash of Irish, a dash of German and half a cup of Austrian?
You get a [fiercely patriotic] blonde, Saffa biscuit. If I were an animal, I’d be a pavement special.
Today [24 September] is National Heritage Day in South Africa.
In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996 Nelson Mandela stated:
“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.”
Or in the words of Wikipedia:
Heritage Day, 24 September, is a public holiday on which South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their cultural heritage and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people
Somewhere in all of this a bright marketer decided to re-christen today National Braai Day. A day dedicated to the ancient ritual of the South African braai.
This concept has grown hugely in the last few years and many people find it offensive. Today is a day to remember where we have come from and who we, as a nation are, and Braai Day makes a mockery of this.
This, quite frankly, is bullshit.
I spent today at a National Braai Day event in my beautiful Cape Town.
A beautiful day in the sun at an event hosted by local brands (Savanna and Good Hope FM), enjoying the musical offerings of local talent, in the company of Saffa’s of every tribe, race, religion and sexual orientation. Hell, there were even a few vegetarians.
Today’s public holiday was introduced as a celebration. It is not a day of mourning. It is not a day to dwell on the past.
Today is a day to celebrate who we are. And who the hell are we? This country is melting pot of everything. Nando’s reminded us of this recently.
I will never tell you to forget the past. We learn from our mistakes, we take inspiration from our heroes. I will also never tell you to forget your heritage, to forget where you came from.
I will tell you to lighten up.
Our heroes fought for us, fought for our right to live together as a nation. That is the heritage they wished for us and I see everything right in celebrating this by celebrating together. At a braai.
Look, I do get it. I do understand why some people find the concept of Braai Day offensive. All I’m saying is, we are country divided by politics. We dwell on our past and on our language and on our skin. We are reminded every single day of where we came from and the long road that still lies ahead of us.
So anytime I can jol with my countrymen of all races and all identities, where politics and background aren’t given a first thought let alone a second … that’s a day worth celebrating.
This isn’t about making a mockery of anything, this isn’t about downplaying an important day in our political calendar. This is about moving away from the negativity that hangs around our political culture and our history like an abused puppy. This is about letting go and having fun as a nation.,
And if braai’s and sports are the two things that will do it, then let’s fucking braai.
What do you get when you add together an Irish/Austrian, a boer, a bunch of Afrikaners, three or four reddened souties, some coloureds and a Jew, throw some boerie rolls at them and then douse the whole lot in copious amounts of Savanna?
You get the best Monday I’ve had all year!
And that’s how I celebrated National Heritage Day.
[There are about 100 more photo’s, but the internet is being exceptionally slow this evening. MonTuesdays will do that to a guy.]