By Qaqamba Matundu
Heritage Month typically refers to a designated month in which a particular culture, ethnicity, or group is celebrated and recognized for its contributions to society. Different countries may have various heritage months dedicated to different communities or aspects of their cultural diversity. For example, in the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 to celebrate the contributions and heritage of Hispanic and Latino Americans.
Similarly, Black History Month is celebrated in February to honor the achievements and history of African Americans. Heritage months provide an opportunity to educate and raise awareness about the cultural richness and diversity within a society.
According to South African Government, “Heritage month is celebrated annually in September. It recognizes aspects of South African Culture which are both tangible and intangible: creative expression such a as music and performances, our historical inheritance person language, the food we eat as well as the popular memory.”
September is a month in which people in South Africa celebrate their heritage. It’s a month that is all about being embracing your identity. Each tribe celebrates it in their ways. The date is the 24th. You would see AmaXhosa rocking their [traditional attires called uMbhaco in IsiXhosa, singing and praising their clan names showing how proud they are to be who they were born to be.
People do not only celebrate who they are, instead some make the heritage month a time to do their traditional weddings, what a beautiful thing to watch.
Heritage month is an open opportunity for people to learn more about other people’s cultures, a chance for them to teach one another in different ways possible. During this learning process some may choose to watch documentaries, read books, visit heritage sites, or even conduct interviews with various people.
“We coloreds don’t do much for heritage, instead on the actual day we do barbeque and braai, not forgetting our go to meal potjiekos.”
Here are some common ways in which South Africans celebrate Heritage Month:
Cultural Festivals: South Africa hosts various cultural festivals and events that showcase the traditions, music, dance, and cuisine of different ethnic groups. These festivals often feature live performances, traditional attire, and art exhibitions.
Heritage Tours: Many people take the opportunity to visit heritage sites, museums, and historical landmarks to learn more about South Africa’s rich and complex history. Popular destinations include Robben Island, the Apartheid Museum, and the Cradle of Humankind. Traditional Food: South Africans celebrate their diverse culinary heritage by preparing and sharing traditional dishes from various cultures. This includes sampling foods like bobotie, boerewors, samoosas, and umngqusho.
Cultural Performances: Traditional music, dance, and storytelling performances are an integral part of Heritage Month celebrations. These performances often take place in community centers, schools, and public spaces. Public Lectures and Workshops: Educational events, seminars, and workshops are organized to promote awareness and understanding of South Africa’s diverse heritage. These discussions may focus on historical, social, and cultural aspects.
Flag Raising and Parades: Some communities hold flag-raising ceremonies and parades to showcase the unity of South Africa’s different cultures and heritage. Dressing in Traditional Attire: Many South Africans wear traditional clothing during Heritage Month to express their pride in their cultural backgrounds. This practice helps celebrate the diversity of clothing styles and designs in the country.
Community Engagement: People often engage in community service and volunteer activities during Heritage Month, promoting unity and a sense of togetherness among South Africans of all backgrounds. Art and Craft Exhibitions: Local artisans and crafters may showcase their work, highlighting traditional art forms and craftsmanship.
Sporting Events: Some sporting events, particularly those involving traditional sports, are organized as part of Heritage Month celebrations. It’s important to note that the specific activities and celebrations during Heritage Month can vary across different regions and communities in South Africa, reflecting the country’s remarkable diversity and culture.
Heritage celebration is important so that the current and the next generation can know their roots and their culture.