Heritage Day (South Africa)

Heritage Day

Heritage Day is often celebrated by having informal barbecues, or braais
Also called Heritage Day
Observed by Republic of South Africa
Date 24 September
Next time 24 September 2017 (2017-09-24)
First time 24 September 1995

Heritage Day is a South African public holiday celebrated on 24 September. On this day, South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.

History of Heritage Day before 1995

In KwaZulu-Natal, 24 September Heritage Day was known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of the Zulu King, Shaka.[1] Shaka was the legendary Zulu King who played an important role in uniting disparate Zulu clans into a cohesive nation. Each year people gather at King Shaka's grave to honour him on this day. The Public Holidays Bill presented to the new democratic Parliament of South Africa in 1995 did not have 24 September included on the list of proposed public holidays. As a result of this exclusion, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a South African political party with a large Zulu membership, objected to the bill. Parliament and the IFP reached a compromise and the day was given its present title and seen as a public holiday.

...when South Africans celebrate the diverse cultural heritage that makes up a "rainbow nation". It is the day to celebrate the contribution of all South Africans to the building of South Africa(sic)
Lowry 21:1995[2]

Celebration of Heritage Day

South Africans celebrate Heritage Day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this.

Former Western Cape Provincial Premier Ebrahim Rasool addressed the public at a Heritage Day celebration at the Gugulethu Heritage trail in 2007 in Gugulethu. In Hout Bay, there is an army procession and a recreation of the battle fought there.

In 2005, a media campaign sought to "re-brand" the holiday as National Braai Day,[3] in recognition of the South African culinary tradition of holding informal backyard barbecues, or braais.

On 5 September 2007, Archbishop Desmond Tutu celebrated his appointment as patron of South Africa's Braai (Barbecue) Day,[4] affirming it to be a unifying force in a divided country (by donning an apron and tucking into a boerewors sausage).[5] At the end of 2007 National Braai Day changed its name to Braai4Heritage and the initiative received the endorsement of South Africa's National Heritage Council (NHC).

Organiser Jan Scannell (known as "Jan Braai") announced that the aim is not to have a mass braai, but with little ones, friends and family. Some have commented that this is a ploy to make people forget the history and the original meaning of why the day was created.[6]


  1. Shaka Day, accessed 5 May 2012
  2. Lowry, Stephen (1995). Know your National Holidays. Swaziland: Macmillan.
  3. National Braai Day
  4. http://braai.com/our-patron-desmond-tutu/ 'Our Patron, Desmond Tutu
  5. BBC NEWS, Tutu praises 'unifying' barbecues
  6. http://www.news24.com/Columnists/TOMolefe/National-Braai-Day-a-day-of-forgetting-20140917 'National Braai Day' a day of forgetting
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