It was very interesting to observe the varying responses and opinions towards this year's much talked about "Braai Day" or should I say "Heritage Day"?
The thing is, a country like ours that is blessed with an array of cultures is bound to encounter confusion on such matters. Why? Simply because we lack an understanding, or rather an existence of a universal South African identity.
This past week or so, many of you on social media lamented: " 'Braai day' diminishes the significance of our heritage". This, however, beckons to question: What is our heritage, as a people? This becomes a very difficult question to answer because we all come from different walks of life. In that same breath, not one of us can deny the fact that braaing is part and parcel of almost every South African's life, regardless your background.
The confusion and anger here comes from making it the primary selling point of this auspicious occasion, thus diffusing the enormous significance of remembering our cultural forebears or even celebrating our current ones. Should this day not be a day of solemn remembrance and jubilant celebration of our cultures? This seemingly becomes the problem for many. How does a coloured South African child who knows nothing about slaughtering a sheep to thank or communicate with their ancestors identify with their heritage? Taking into cognisance of course, that there are varying factors that qualify one as 'coloured'.
The point that I'm trying to make here and I will quote Eusebius McKaiser in saying "Romanticising over culture and heritage is a very dangerous practise"; especially when we South Africans (as a nation) cannot identify with a single culture. We are a melting point of mogudu, umnqusho, pap 'n vleis and chakalaka. Oh, and braai meat.
You see, it would be much easier to comprehend the idea of "Braai Day" if braaing meat was a cultural norm for everyone, but this is not so. It is merely a past-time, one which almost every South African partakes in as it promotes social cohesion. This however, must not and cannot replace the true meaning of what Heritage Day is about. Remembering and celebrating our diverse cultures.
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