NATIONAL NEWS - Heritage Day on 24 September recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation.
South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa.
Living heritage is the foundation of all communities and an essential source of identity and continuity. Aspects of living heritage include: cultural tradition, oral history, performance, ritual, popular memory, skills and techniques, indigenous knowledge system and the holistic approach to nature, society and social relationships.
In South Africa the term “intangible cultural heritage” is used interchangeably with the term “living heritage”.
Living heritage plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development. In every community there are living human treasures who possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history pertaining to different aspects of diverse living heritage. It is therefore important for South Africans to reclaim, restore and preserve these various aspects of living heritage to accelerate the use of living heritage to address challenges communities are facing today.
History of Heritage Day before 1995
In KwaZulu-Natal, 24 September was known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of the Zulu King, Shaka.
Shaka was the legendary Zulu King who played an important role in uniting disparate Zulu clans into a cohesive nation.
Each year people gather at King Shaka's grave to honour him on this day.
The Public Holidays Bill presented to the new democratic Parliament of South Africa in 1995 did not have 24 September included on the list of proposed public holidays. As a result of this exclusion, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a South African political party with a large Zulu membership, objected to the bill.
Parliament and the IFP reached a compromise and the day was given its present title and seen as a public holiday.
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