On 24 September, South Africa celebrates Heritage Day – a celebration of our country’s rich and diverse heritage. On this day, citizens come together and are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions as each of these makes South Africa the rainbow nation that it is.
As we commemorate the beauty of our diverse country, some of Mzansi’s most popular celebrities share what their heritage means to them and why it’s something that should be celebrated.
Television and radio personality Carol Ofori says that this year, she is taking some exciting steps to learn more about her background. “Heritage Day for me this year is about where I am from. It’s about me finding out where my mom and dad are from. It’s also about loving the fact that my heritage is being an African woman and instilling this into how I am raising my children, who are Pan-African. I like to view myself as a Pan-African as well, because for me it’s beyond just being a Pedi girl, it’s about being a Pedi girl who loves her African heritage,” Carol says. She adds that this Heritage Day she is “doing an ancestry DNA test. I am very excited to see what the results will say because as much as I know I am South African, I am keen to see what else the results will show.”
For DJ Sabby, Heritage Day has so much more meaning now that he is a father. “As a young African man and being fully aware of where we come from is something that I truly embrace because that defines our legacy,” the DJ explains. “Being a father now, that is what I need to pass onto my son and what he will have to pass onto his children. That is the continuation of heritage and culture. This Heritage Day, we can shisa nyama and just chill with family let’s also have an educational moment so we can keep the essence of the day alive and celebrate who we truly are.”
Presenter, businesswoman and media personality Kriya Gangiah says that being an Indian woman in South Africa is something that she celebrates every day. “Heritage, to me, is an understanding of our past so that we can be better prepared for our future,” she explains. “My heritage as a South African Indian woman means that not only has the good, like the food and the dress, been passed on to me but also the drive to prevent the struggles of our past. I am grateful for my heritage. It has shaped who I am today.”
Radio personality, pilot and DJ Alex Caige shares the importance of celebrating all of the cultures that house themselves within South Africa and explains that he, personally, has spent a lot of time recently understanding how his family landed up in South Africa. “To me, Heritage Day is all about the different cultures we have in the country and the diversity we have within the country as well,” Alex explains. “This Heritage Day is quite special to me because my family and I traced our heritage back to the early 1800s from different parts of the Netherlands and learned how we made the transition to South Africa. This gave me a chance to reflect on how my family has lived through different parts of South Africa and how I landed up in Johannesburg.” He adds “I urge everyone to spend some time researching your heritage because it may just surprise you.”
Dancer, choreographer, DJ, producer and all-round entertainer Courtnaé Paul says that her heritage is something that is incredibly important to her and her family – and will be celebrating this special day with those close to her. “Nothing says heritage quite like family and that’s how I’ll be spending my day – surrounded by family and friends and celebrating the culture and heritage of our rainbow nation,” she says. “I think days like this, where you get to stop and appreciate all the good bits and pieces that make up our diverse country, are super important and a reminder to just how special South Africa really is.”