Embracing your heritage beyond Heritage Day and Africa Day

by Boitumelo Makobosheane

South Africa is famously referred to as a rainbow nation because it is made up of so many diverse cultures and religions. We embrace our heritage every day by respecting and understanding each other’s cultural practices.

“If you don’t know your roots, you are like a leaf that does not know you are part of the tree” said little nyonya drama series.

Being of a certain heritage makes up part of your identity giving you direction and a sense of belonging. Heritage is broken into two types:

Natural and cultural, therefore the countries heritage is its environment and natural resources, like gold and water. Cultural heritage is used to describe those things that contribute to the sense of identity of a particular population or community of people.

Embracing our heritage keeps our community together, passes values, traditions, and meanings throughout the different generations. It also helps us to remember who we are and the families we journeyed from. We embrace and keep it because it is part of our history,  is a guiding factor to our communities and it also enables us to share our different cultures and heritage.

If we value our heritage, we will then be able to pass it on to our children with a little bit of ourselves attached to it. What we do now, how we live our lives and the character we build, adds to the heritage we leave to our children. Some of us may not have money or property to give to our children when we die, but we can give them a rich legacy of heritage. We can leave them with a legacy that will enhance their lives in every good way that we desire for them.

Our traditions have been watered down; a great example would be having white weddings in the Zulu and Sotho communities. We do tradition weddings as a second wedding yet it is our tradition, our heritage. White weddings are a western tradition, but our grandchildren will not know all about this if we don’t embrace our traditions and heritage every day.

Umntu ngumntu ngabantu. We are our heritage.

I know firsthand that maintaining one’s culture and identity intact is very difficult, even impossible when you throw yourself with passion in another culture as it is only natural to be influenced by our new lifestyle and the predominant culture we live in, this influence cannot erase what we have deep-rooted within ourselves and even makes it run even deeper as a way to wear with pride the one thing we could leave behind when we leave is our cultural heritage.

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