What My Heritage Means to Me
Heritage Day is as young as our democracy. This means there are South Africans who can remember a time when there wasn’t a day for celebrating who we are together and apart, and there are those who can’t. In a nation as diverse as South Africa, what does “heritage” mean and what should the celebration of it look like?
We asked a few people, including Kaya listeners, what their heritage means to them.
Riz Ventura, Rapper
“Bushie, excellence for me is taking that we do day-to-day and making it glamorous. From eating Gatsbys and roe to drinking 3 Ships in a park. Exploring the history of our people while at the same time adding a mythological element to everyday stuff. Basically, owning all the influences in our make up and culture. That’s what I try to do in my music.”
Sabelosami Dlungwane, Writer
“As black youth, heritage means reconciling my past with the present. It means that I inherit all of the joy and the pain of those that came before me and I use that to carve out a different path for myself. I represent everyone who has touched my life and made me the person I am today. I celebrate them by celebrating myself.”
Nozipho Masabalala, Writer
“I’m raising three children and that has external challenges. Two of my children are boys — I was blessed because I had a wonderful father and great brothers. The men in my family exemplify what I want my Xhosa boys to be like when they grow up.
“My daughter once came home from a frustrating day at school asking why I didn’t give her a name that’s ‘easier’ to pronounce. Being stuck in my grown people things I dismissively said, ‘Your name means joy. Be happy with it.’ Later that day I thought about it and realised joy didn’t quite cover it: I could have ululated when she was first placed in my arms. Her birth lifted my spirits and my soul sang! So I wrote her a note letting her know. I use the note to reaffirm her as often as I can. I hope she remembers that her name is testimony of how she has enriched my life.
“It’s with these external factors in mind that I constantly touch base (especially with my eldest) to find out what he understands of what he’s getting from school, friends and other grown ups. I have made field trips to Museum Afrika, Constitutional Hill and Apartheid Museum to try and contextualise what he is learning from textbooks. I insist he reads and writes isiXhosa. I want to fill my children with pride in who they are, and then the world won’t tell them nothing.”
Modjadji Seabi (via Facebook)
“My heritage means acknowledging that I have a history (culture and tradition) where I came from or defines me. We could have evolved into an African civilization by Africans themselves. It also means to me as long as we are aware and able, we can still have an African renaissance.”
Sifiso Wishes Stifler (via Facebook)
“Yimvelaphi yam, bubuntu bam, bazimu bam, bokhokho bam. Heritage speaks to my identity as an Afrikan. It’s really killing to know that my future family and children might not be able to speak their own language and practise their traditional customs due to me not knowing my roots.”
Bandile Khumalo (via Facebook)
“Heritage simply means sense of belonging. As South Africans we are unique and have a variety of cultures in one country.”
Mthunzi Maseko (via Facebook)
“Way back when I was a kid, Heritage Day and month was an everyday thing. Of late we have the whole year but choose one month ‘to be who we are supposed to be’. And then it’s South African music week or day whatever… I mean really? Who are we, exactly, during the other months?”
Heritage means… “To know and always remember our culture, believe in it and to be proud of our lovely different cultures as African people.”
Glenda Nwa’Shirinda Mashaba
“This is what I wore last week Friday, 18th September, as the Department of Justice celebrated Heritage Day. I’m proud tsonga Nwa’Shirinda ntukulu waka Xilumane. And I must say I was blessed with a job that embraces our heritage and indigenous languages (court interpreting) of which I speak nine South African languages. I also speak a bit of Mozambican, Shangaan and Shona. And on the 24th I’m going celebrate my daughter’s first birthday as she was born 23rd September last year. Ni mutsonga wa xiviri!”
Phumlani Bheuel Mthembu-Maruma (via Facebook)
Heritage means… “Spirit of Ubuntu when practising our own cultural believes and learning from others.”