South Africa Heritage Day

South Africa Heritage Day

September 24
On September 24, 1995, the Republic of South Africa celebrated its first Heritage Day. The day was declared a national holiday by the first democratically elected government of South Africa, which was elected on April 27, 1994. According to the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, the word heritage is defined as "that which we inherit: the sum total of wild life and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections together with their documentation." To help South Africans celebrate their heritage, this day has been set aside to recognize all aspects of South African culture, including creative expression, historical inheritance, language, food, and the land in which they live.
During his speech on Heritage Day in 1996, President Nelson Mandela said, "When our first democratically elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.
We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy."
The government of the Republic of South Africa determines a theme for each year's celebrations. That first Heritage Day celebration in 1995 focused on composer Enoch Sontonga, the creator of a hymn that was adopted as the national anthem, His gravesite was declared a national monument, and his music was highlighted.
CONTACTS:
South Africa Government
Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa
www.info.gov.za
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