This year’s Heritage Day took place under the theme
Celebrating 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup successes: our heritage.
Heritage Day is one of South Africa’s newly created public holidays and its significance rests in recognising aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and difficult to pin down: creative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live.
Within a broader social and political context, the day’s events are a powerful agent for promulgating a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict.
Heritage is defined as “that which we inherit: the sum total of wild life and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections together with their documentation.”
Government determines a theme for each year’s celebrations.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the 24th of 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.
The Public Holidays Bill presented to the Parliament of South Africa at the time did not have the 24th of 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.
[…] when South Africans celebrate the diverse cultural heritage that makes up a “rainbow nation”. It is the day to celebrate the contribution of all South Africans to the building of South Africa. […]
— Lowry 21:1995
Other holidays: List and meaning