Heritage Day, this year on 24 September, was recognised as a public holiday in 1996 by former President Nelson Mandela, who said it was South Africa’s varied and shared cultures that make the country great. There has been an initiative to celebrate these shared cultures by braaiing but not everyone agrees with this notion. We interviewed people from all over the country to find out how they celebrate their heritage. It is their personal views, opinions and quotes published in good faith but do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this newspaper.
Meet the Mutereko family
Adams Mutereko (30), Linouh Moyo (26) and Samantha Mutereko (5) live Masiphumelele (Masi) near Kommetjie in the Western Cape. They moved here five years ago from Zimbabwe. Adams works as a handyman and driver while Linouh is a domestic worker. Sam goes to pre-school.
Paying lobola is still adhered to.
Languages they speak
Shona, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu and English. Sammy speaks Shona, Xhosa and English.
Pap with meat and vegetables, especially covo – a type of kale and a member of the cabbage family -being a favourite and readily available at Masi at R5 a bundle.
Celebrating Heritage Day
With family: singing, dancing and playing drums and the marimba.
Meaning of your heritage
“A day to celebrate our culture and characteristics that have been passed down through the years from one generation to another.”
Best advice given
Love, be kind, honest and work hard.
“Let’s live a life of peace and dignity. Let’s stop corruption and make sure we are all safe and that the police can be trusted at all times to keep law and order and bring perpetrators to book.”
We are the Wesseltjies
Nathaniel Wessels (35), Silvia Eigelaar (38), Hannah Wessels (12), Rachel Wessels (11) and Leo Wessels (4 months). They live in Table View Cape Town and Nate works in construction, Silvi as an interior designer and the girls attend a local school. Leo goes to day-care nearby.
Long family lunches once a month with lots of hearty and homely food. Everyone helps with the preparation and sit together at a long table. Saying grace before a meal. Nate carves the roast as taught to him by his granny. Silvi’s aunt’s potato salad is still the best.
Celebrating Heritage Day
With family and friends enjoying a picnic at the beach, in a park or a braai at home, weather permitting.
Down memory lane
Nate: “My dad showed me how to drink milk through a Peppermint Crisp and introduced me to my first shot when I was 15. It was a Flatliner (a crazy layered drink of tequila and sambuca sandwiched between a generous tot Tabasco sauce) in Melville and our adventurous trip through the Karoo National Park in his 4 x 4, only the two of us.”
Silvi: “Lots of nephews and nieces getting together during the summer holidays at our West Coast home and playing hide-and-seek, long stoep-visits after tennis matches, trips in our Autovilla, feeding the sheep at my Gran’s in Calvinia and my mother’s beautiful garden.”
Best advice given
Hannah: “Never give up!”
Rachel: ‘’Be respectful to others, try to understand.”
Nate: “Recycle today for a better tomorrow and don’t litter.”
Silvi: ‘’Embrace the outdoors and become more health conscious.”
Introducing Londiwe Xulu
Her home language is Isizulu and she lives in Pietermaritzburg.
Family members: Five. Two uncles Musa Chiburi and Sandile Chiburi, my aunt Londiwe Duma, my cousin Hlelo Chiburi and myself.
Heritage Day this year
Usually we all go home to KwaDukuza, where all women in the family visit my late grandmother’s grave to pay our respect. Heritage day is emotional for me because I used to spend this holiday with my late grandmother who would tell me about my history (sometimes repeat all the boring stories and how the youth is disrespecting the culture) but I enjoyed every second with her. We both loved cooking and baking and during the year she passed away, she taught me how to bake isinkwa sombhako (home-made pot bread).
Meaning of heritage
Nowadays young people are slowly adopting other people’s cultures and traditions instead of embracing their own. I am a proud Zulu girl and this day gives me the freedom to express all that fully and it was such a special day for me and my late grandmother. Each year means I have to do her proud.
Imbila yaswela umsila ngokuyalezela which means don’t trust others with things you should do yourself. I love this proverb because it always reminds me that I need to work for my achievements and sometimes not depend on others if I can do things myself.
Earlier this year, a woman said in Zulu culture an uncle can sleep with his nieces and it’s part of the culture. This is not true and is considered rape, even in the earlier days men were not allowed to touch their nieces or daughters.
“Let’s all embrace our culture and not try to adopt what other people do.”
Introducing Vanisha Moodley
She is Tamil and lives in Scottburgh on the Mid-South Coast of KZN. Due to her parents’ divorce, she has two homes which she and her younger sister Kelisha stay at every alternate week. Her paternal grandparents Savi and Jimmy Moodley live with her dad Yugen Moodley while her mom Vijay Moodley lives on her own.
On the day
I will be spending Heritage Day at the office, but it will not be all work though. Fortunately, our newspaper office is based at the local mall where we will be participating in the annual Heritage Day Potjiekos Competition. Besides running around taking photos for the newspaper, I will be helping my colleagues prep their potjiekos – they won the title last year!
My Indian culture will never fade. Although Tamil, I was brought up as any other child in the country, walking, talking and dressing the same except when it comes to traditional ceremonies. For any Indian wedding or function, I wear traditional Indian wear because dressing in this attire for Indian events is done in respect.
It has to be biryani. If it’s any special occasion, you can expect this delicacy prepared by my mother.
The law of Karma – this basically means what goes around comes around. There’s good karma and bad karma. My mother always says if someone hurts me, I shouldn’t waste time and energy on them because they will eventually receive the same treatment they’ve been giving. Also, if you do good, you will receive good.
Eating with our hands
One thing I would really like people to understand is the way most Indian people eat: we eat rice and curry with our hands. We were brought up this way and our ancestors practiced this in India. We believe the food is not only tastier this way, but according to the elders of my family specifically, food not only feeds our bodies, but our spirit man as well.
I usually wear traditional outfits for Heritage Day such as Punjabis (Long Eastern top with pants and a scarf) or Lengas (Eastern top with long skirt and scarf) but not this year due to the potjiekos competition. I have to dress up as a clown because that’s oddly enough it my office’s theme!
“Give others the respect you expect to be given to you.”
Here we go Luzuko Sampo
He is a Xhosa and lives in Groeneweide Park, George on the Garden Route with my mom Kholeka Sampo and little brother Kwakho Sampo.
Happiness. We have had a lot of happiness in my home. Obviously there will be sad times, which is life, but mostly happiness.
Meeting up at our grandparents’ place at the end of the year. Sitting around the fire and under a tree sharing our individual achievements and challenges throughout the year and helping one another to come up with solutions for such, if needed. This helps us to always remember we don’t have to do things on our own. There are always people willing to help, especially family.
Umleqwa, a dish made with free-range chicken. Umngqusho, a dish made from white maize and sugar beans, a staple food for the Xhosa people. Umqombothi, African Beer made from fermented maize and sorghum. Umvubo is a traditional Xhosa meal, with cold sour milk poured over the crumbly pap. Sour milk is known to Xhosas as amasi. Crumbly pap alone is known as umphokoqo, and together with the sour milk it is known as umvubo.
It is who I am, my culture, race, my roots. It is where I come from, e.g. my surname, my clan name. Having the knowledge of my existence and who I am.
Ukufa kwendoda kusendleleni. Njengoba uphila fumana uLwazi imihla ngemihla, uludlulisele kwabalandela emva kwakho meaning a man’s death is on the road, as you go through life, you must attain knowledge on a daily basis, and pass it on to the following generation and Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu meaning a person is a person because of people. In our culture, if something happens good or bad, people stick together and support one another. That’s why in instances such as funerals, you will have a lot of people attending it. For support. If someone need help, you help. Ubuntu!
The last word
“Know your roots, your culture, and your existence. You a unique individual with a story to tell. Tell it fully, because nobody else will tell it for you.”
Proud Bathabile Msomi
She is a Zulu woman from Krugersdorp, Mogale City where she lives with her family of three after the passing of her father: Busisiwe (her Queen who carried her for nine months) and Mondli (her younger brother).
What I would love to do for Heritage Day
If I had money and time I would like to take my brother and a few of my friends to Shaka’s Kraal in Ballito, Stanger in the Zulu Kingdom for the narrative of King Shaka Zulu, Queen Nandi and the entire royal family; the beliefs and values of authentically being ‘umZulu’. This is where my late father was born and bred, and it is where Heritage Day was originated, the 24 of September was dubbed Shaka’s Day (in remembrance of our heroic and fallen King Shaka) in Kwa Dukuza, KwaZulu-Natal (long before it became Braai day), 24th September was only declared a public holiday in 1996 by former President Nelson Mandela, after the day had been commemorated since the iconic King Shaka was slain in 1828 by AmaZulu (Zulu people).
My father (the late), used to tell us about our rich heritage, and the misbelief regarding King Shaka Zulu’s persona (as he was portrayed as an evil dictator in movies), and other great Zulu leaders who shaped our future, such as Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Chief Albert Luthuli, who was also from Stanger in Groutville. To me Heritage Day means the extraordinary and beauty of my Zulu culture and history is embraced by all South Africans and even global citizens – that I should also learn and respect other cultures and languages.
One of them is ensuring that I am home before sunset, not in other people’s houses, unless if I am at work. (But I never stay at a friend’s or boyfriend’s place until sunset.)
Quote I live by
When I was about eight years old, my father said: Batha, ungazithambisi, nobhanana wazithambisa wabola, basically he used the banana as an example: that a banana is soft and it easily decomposes because it’s too soft – so I shouldn’t be “soft” or I’ll lose my freshness like a rotten banana.
Lobolo and wife-to-be duties
On Google it is said that Ukuthwala is abduction of young girls and forcing them into marriage with older men. That is not what ukuthwala is in the Zulu custom. (Ukuthwala in the Zulu custom is different from the Xhosa version of ukuthwala). Ukuthwala occurs when a young man delays paying lobolo to his girlfriend’s family due to financial constraints or when the young man has fear of commitment and his girlfriend “dumps” him and tells his family and friends she wants him to make their relationship official by paying lobolo. Once the boyfriend knows, he then pays lobolo and because of Zulu girl’s pride, she will ‘play-hard-to-get’ and her boyfriend-turned-fiancé, now that lobolo has been negotiated and paid, would rightfully go to his fiancée’s home and thwala (meaning carry her on his back to show her off in the village or community that they are now official and that a wedding should be expected soon).
“We all have beautiful cultures and customs, let’s try to incorporate them into our daily lives and minimise the ‘lost generation’ stigma.”
South African Tourism
Bheki, a traditional South African dressmaker, is met with the toughest challenge of his career. He goes out on a search for inspiration. Will he find it? Watch the film to find out.
He speaks Sesotho and lives in Kew, Johannesburg with his father Victor Dlodlo, Mother Annah Dlodlo and siblings Sbo and Khosi Dlodlo.
Giving praise to my ancestors for all the blessings in my life.
Don’t ignore your roots
To me it means that which makes you unique from the next person. This whole notion that we are all the same only applies at a physiological view but in reality our culture, race, gender and history define what our heritage is. To ignore your heritage is to ignore your roots.
Words of wisdom
Take care of home before you try impress the streets. My aunt once said this to me and I have stuck by it ever since and I’ve realised there’s no point in impressing the streets. There’s more joy and honour in making sure everyone at home is well, emotionally and physically.
Call me Baba
You don’t not call an elder by their name, whether they are your gardener or driver. It is extremely disrespectful to do this. Call them Baba, Malume, Ma, and so on, even if they are not related to you
Not ready for re-branding
Do not replace Heritage Day with this neo-liberal capitalist notion of Braai Day. Only after 20 years of embracing our cultures and heritage they want us to rebrand it as Braai Day. Until it is Heritage Day and cultural appreciation every day, until people can wear their traditional attire without a reason, until the basic education system will teach and take kids to SA heritage sites, we are not ready for the re-branding. It’s too soon.
Rivoningo Miranda Chauke
She is Tsonga speaking and lives in Flora Park, Polokwane with her father, mother and two sisters. Her eldest sister has left the nest so they also have a nephew (her mother’s late sister’s son) and niece (her younger sister’s daughter) living with them.
I remember Saturday mornings; my older sister and I would wake up and write in the diaries my mom got us, the smell of Jungle Oats coming from the kitchen and the Top 30 playing on the radio. (I copied whatever my sister was writing; she was in grade 3 and I was in pre-school). Mom encouraged us to read and write from an early age.
You have to do a little curtsy/ bow when you receive anything from an older person. When you go into someone’s home, you cannot talk to them until you have sat down, not even a greeting. It’s considered rude to talk while on your feet. (As opposed to Western culture where you have to be offered a seat first.)
My mother used to say this every time I would be too hasty when doing something. Ku tsaka ngopfu swivanga ku rila which can be loosely translated as “too much excitement will bring you tears”. This was usually accompanied by a glare.
Let’s not look down on each other because shockingly in 2017, we still have cultures that are deemed superior to others. That’s were tribalism begins and in my opinion it’s no better than racism because it divides the nation.
Ntandoyenkosi Cherron Dlamini
She is Zulu and lives in Gamalakhe, Port Shepstone, KZN with her grandparents, aunt and my two brothers.
I have quite a small family: my grandparents are Ernest and Nomathemba Van der Merwe. My grandma who happens to be black, married a Coloured man before I was born and he was the step-father to my late mother and is the grandfather I’ve always known. I also live with my aunt and her son, Yvonne and Esethu Van der Merwe; my last family member is my biological brother, Ndabe Dlamini. We used the surname Dlamini because it was my mother’s surname, who was never married to my father.
– If you don’t want to go to church, the grandparents will ask you to go out of the gate and only come back when they are back from church.
– If it is your birthday, our granddad will be the first person to come to your room to wish you a happy birthday before he goes to work.
– If you have achieved anything, whether it is passing in school or tertiary, the grandparents will buy you a chicken and we have to slaughter it, clean it and then they will prepare it in the oven.
– If you will be leaving home for a period of over a month, my grandmother will bake for you, roast a chicken or something so that when you get wherever you’re going, they will know you come from a home that cares.
As South Africans, we need to develop a culture of being opened to diverse views and beliefs, in that way we wouldn’t waste time preaching the word of social cohesion.
God bless Africa
South Africa’s national anthem – Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God bless Africa) comprises five of our 11 official languages – Xhosa (first stanza, first two lines), Zulu (first stanza, last two lines), Sesotho (second stanza), Afrikaans (third stanza), and English (final stanza). Listen and learn if you do not know the anthem…