GEORGE NEWS - The 16th of December is known as Reconciliation Day in South Africa. This annual public holiday seeks to foster reconciliation and national unity for the country.
The Day of Reconciliation was introduced in 1994 as a way to heal the rift between the peoples of South Africa, and bring harmony to a nation still suffering from decades of injustice.
The significance of 16 December for South Africans stems from two historical events. The first of these was in 1838, when the Battle of Blood River took place between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus.
The second historical event that took place on 16 December was in 1961, when Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) was formed. This was the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), which was launched to wage an armed struggle against the apartheid government. This year South Africa marked Reconciliation Day with a focus on language as a lever to foster greater reconciliation.
The national event on the day was held in KwaZulu-Natal under the theme "The Year of Indigenous Languages: Supporting National Reconciliation Through the Promotion, Development and Preservation of Indigenous Languages." The country's move from an oppressive regime under apartheid to a democratic society guaranteed the human rights of all South Africans and ensured that indigenous languages would be protected and promoted. In advancing indigenous languages in our nation, we can give social and political recognition to disadvantaged language groups. It helps keeps our individual cultures alive and connects us to our history.
To mark this day President Cyril Ramaphosa has granted a special remission of sentence to specific categories of sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees. He has approved the release of 14 647 offenders on pardons and remissions.
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