The African National Congress (ANC)in the Eastern Cape wishes all the citizens of our Province and everyone a happy Heritage Day as we come together as a nation to celebrate our unity in diversity. Our country celebrates this Heritage Day under the theme:” The Year of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: Advancing transformation of South Africa’s heritage landscape.”
Heritage Day is one of the most celebrated days on the South African calendar. It reflects the country`s diverse cultures, traditions and groups which have come to characterise South Africa`s unique identity as the Rainbow Nation. Historically, this day was originally known and widely celebrated as Shaka Day in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Upon the dawn of democracy in 1994, however this changed, as with many other changes during that time. This is because it was argued that if the day was to remain as Shaka Day, it would only represent one cultural group – the Zulu culture – and subsequently marginalize many other cultural groups existing in South Africa.Therefore, the day was renamed as Heritage Day because it will be a day where everyone gets to celebrate their heritage whether you are Xhosa, Ndebele, Venda or Sotho.
This country comes from a system where divisions were rife and other cultures dominated over others. We come from a history part of which still defines our lives .This is a history in which to condemn anything and everything African , was to be civilized , a history wherein to embrace without question foreign traditions and beliefs was a passport into being a kitchen nigger or in the South African parlance – a baas boy .
We come from a past where colonial masters sought to inculcate a false belief that the natives of this country had no history and that the beginning of history was when the white man came to our shores .Hence a native could not be Matome, but James, and Nomathemba had to become Jane. Through our determined struggles , we defeated colonialism and apartheid .The freedom we won through our sacrifices has created the possibility for all our people to reclaim our heritage .
Democracy had brought the country together giving South Africa a new and unique identity; so this is a day where South Africans truly celebrate their diverse heritage and cultures while embracing the differences that they share. As differences were a negative aspect of being South African before, today we look at these differences as a way of continuing to unify a young democracy.
ANC calls upon South Africans to use this day as an opportunity to teach and learn about other cultures so that we are able to better understand each other and to really live in unity in diversity.
Issued by ANC Eastern Cape Communications
Media Liaison Officer
ANC EC Head of Communications