If you like your culture diverse, eclectic and colourful, South Africa is the place for you! And, should you be looking for a reason to go BOS on history, heritage and all things Mzansi, look no further than Heritage Day on 24 September, the national public holiday when South Africans celebrate their inspiringly vibrant tapestry of cultures.
Since 1995, the People of the South have been annually honouring their heritage on this very special spring day, and to say they take it seriously would be, ahem, somewhat of an understatement.
On Heritage Day, South Africans go all out to celebrate and acknowledge their diverse roots in all kinds of ways, the most popular being cooking up ridiculous amounts of mouthwatering foods, mostly sizzled up over the coals al fresco, under that legendary, deep-blue African sky.
The most popular fare on this local calendar highlight has to be braaivleis, shisa nyama, tjop-en-dop – whatever you wish to call it (and whether it be meat grilled over smouldering hot coals, a potjie stew or even a Cape-style snoekbraai), it’s a simple fact that South Africans just love to throw food on the fire.
But, did you know that, here at the southern tip of Africa, there are many more ways to Go BOS when celebrating your cultural heritage than just socialising around a fire?
Read on as we explore six meaningful (and fun!) ways to #GoBOS on Heritage Day in South Africa.
1. Hit the Streets
No matter where in South Africa you may live, there are bound to be places of cultural interest close by. So, gather the family and friends and take to the streets to visit some museums, public sculptures and other landmarks or historic monuments in your area. Have a celebratory Heritage Day lunch somewhere lekker, or pack a picnic with all your favourite traditional foods, hit a park and discuss your various takes on everything you saw and experienced on your outing.
Can’t make it out on 24 September? Moenie worry nie, you can still get your virtual culture fix this Heritage Day. Just visit Google Arts & Culture: “an online platform through which the public can view high-resolution images and videos of artworks and cultural artefacts from partner cultural organisations throughout the world”. Just type in any cultural topic that is relevant to our Heritage Day celebrations, save your findings and then share them with your friends and family over some classic South African foods, treats and drinks.
2. Organise a Culture Cook-off
Send out invites to as many cooks from as many cultures among your family and friends as possible, then gooi a kitchen culture cook-off for the books! Melktert, umngqusho, pannekoek, koeksisters, samoosas, vetkoek, pap-en-wors, Cape Malay curry, malva pudding, the list goes on and on. Be sure to mix things up with some inter-cultural flavour combinations, then share stories about your respective traditions while the feast is underway!
3. Tell Your Stories
Every family has them – stories passed down from generations that have since become the stuff of legend. This Heritage Day, get out the slide projector, photo albums, video tapes, old diaries, letters and memorabilia boxes, and embark on a glorious trip down memory lane. If your grandparents have passed, there might be someone from their generation in your neighbourhood that you can invite over on this special day. Older people are treasure troves of tales about life in earlier times, so go all intergenerational (perhaps over a delicious cup of rooibos tea?) when sharing your recollections and reflections on how things have changed – a transformative experience!
Remembering our ancestors, the times they lived in and the challenges they faced is a powerful way to celebrate Heritage Day. Contemplating on what we can learn from these times and how far we have come as a society can go a long way to imbuing some depth and meaning to this popular South African public holiday.
4. Throw a Listening Party
Ask family and friends from various cultures and backgrounds to bring along their Top Three South African songs to your Heritage Day jol.
From Master KG to Mimi Coertse, Snotkop to Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, pantsula to sakkie-sakkie, maskandi to amapiano (we really could go on here) – there’s nothing like the power music to remind us that all the things we have in common as a people far outweigh what differences there may be.
Prefer those crowdy outdoor vibes? Get Googling and find a great live music Heritage Day music celebration in your area, then get your Jerusalema dance on, ek sê!
5. Get Into the Wild!
Our country’s world-famous abundance of natural beauty is most certainly part of its heritage. This Heritage Day, why not celebrate your South African-ness with a glorious nature hike, taking in the breathtaking abundance of our indigenous fauna and flora?
No matter where in South Africa you may find yourself, there’s bound to be someplace magnificent close by. Long stretches of pristine coastline, scenic views from mountaintops, lush forests, deserts, and game reserves teeming with wildlife – just take your pick!
As South Africans, we are truly spoilt to live in one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. So go on, immerse yourself in our glorious natural heritage (and keep counting those blessings!)
6. Get Your Braai On
Yes, we know. It is almost every South African’s go-to Heritage Day celebration… but why mess with a classic?
If you’re not in a braaing (that’s barbecuing, for the non South Africans) mood when 24 September swings round, why not hit up your local shisa nyama tavern? If you are ready for fireworks, then get out those tjops, boerewors, walkie-talkies, smileys, Weskus snoek and skilpadjies (you can even throw a pofadder on the fire if the mood grabs you). Then whip up a big pot of pap, drape some dough around a stick for stokbrood or get frying on some vetkoek to serve up alongside your yummy and truly South African braai fare.
Be sure to invite as many friends, colleagues and acquaintances from as many Mzansi cultures as possible to your braai, and do swap fireside tales about your respective families, traditions and whatever it is you feel makes our eclectic South African culture so unique and incredibly special.
Go BOS With Another South African Classic
Want to know more about another South African cultural institution? Click here to learn more about rooibos tea, and discover 15 ways in which this wonder beverage, grown nowhere else on Earth than South Africa’s Cederberg can make your life better.
Then, head on over to our BOS online shop to find your favourite BOS Rooibos product!