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Happy Heritage Day! Celebrating diversity as the beauty of South Africa

Ramahlwe Mphahlele, a South African football defender and midfielder who plays for with Premier Soccer League club Kaizer Chiefs, has urged South Africans to celebrate their diversity on Heritage Day.

Specifically, Heritage Day is a South African public holiday celebrated on 24 September. On this day, South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.

Kaizer Chiefs defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele. Image credit: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix/IOL

In KwaZulu-Natal, a coastal South African province, the 24th of September is known as Shaka Day, in commemoration of Shaka, the Zulu king, on the presumed date of his death in 1828. Shaka played an important role in uniting disparate Zulu clans into a cohesive nation. Each year people gather at his grave to honour him on this day. The Public Holidays Bill presented to the new democratic Parliament of South Africa in 1996 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 ANC reached a compromise and the day was given its present title and accepted as a public holiday.

Speaking to the club’s website ahead of the new Premiership season, Mphahlele explained that Heritage Day is a day for South Africans to reflect on where they came from and the important origins they embrace.

Heritage Appreciation Cartoon by Mgobhozi | Africartoons/Daily Maverick

“It’s about preserving our culture and about being united as a country in our diversity,” the club’s former captain pointed out.

“We have several tribes in South Africa. The Sotho alone are split in Northern, Southern and Western Sotho. For example, I am Northern Sotho (Pedi).

“We have the Nguni group, Venda, Tsonga… and we have white, coloured, Indian peoples. When I was on the road yesterday, I watched the people stepping in and out of taxis. I saw this wide variety of traditional clothes. How beautiful it is.

“We should never forget our culture, especially in light of all that has been happening of late. Heritage Day is a great reminder of our togetherness as a country, while not forgetting our roots and keeping our different cultures alive.

“Our diversity is the beauty of South Africa.”


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