Braai4Heritage – a common celebration of South Africa's heritage

"This thing we do together..."

"It's a fantastic thing, a very simple idea. Irrespective of your politics, of your culture, of your race, of your whatever, hierdie ding doen ons saam [this thing we do together] ... just South Africans doing one thing together, and recognising that we are a fantastic nation.” So said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu at the launch of Braai4Heritage in September 2008.

"Here is one thing that can unite us irrespective of all of the things that are trying to tear us apart," he said in explanation of his support of the Braai4Heritage initiative. He is now the national patron of the Braai4Heritage.

Heritage Day, 24 September, is a day when South Africans celebrate the rich cultural heritage which has made of South Africa the “fantastic nation” that Tutu spoke of. The national Tourism Authority used to have the slogan “a world in one country” and that about sums up South Africa's rich heritage.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Our humble piece of boerewors on the braaiCaitlin tucking into some boereworsArchbishop Tutu on the Braai4Heritage siteBraai4Heritage logoWhat it's all about - family and friends out in the open and enjoying some food togetherOf course a picnic in the park is also an opportunity to show off one's fashion sense!Another family having a great timeFriends having fun in the sun with beer and braaivleis
Our humble piece of boerewors on the braai
Our humble piece of boerewors on the braai
Caitlin tucking into some boerewors
Caitlin tucking into some boerewors
Archbishop Tutu on the Braai4Heritage site
Archbishop Tutu on the Braai4Heritage site
Braai4Heritage logo
Braai4Heritage logo
What it's all about - family and friends out in the open and enjoying some food together
What it's all about - family and friends out in the open and enjoying some food together
Of course a picnic in the park is also an opportunity to show off one's fashion sense!
Of course a picnic in the park is also an opportunity to show off one's fashion sense!
Another family having a great time
Another family having a great time
Friends having fun in the sun with beer and braaivleis
Friends having fun in the sun with beer and braaivleis

A national symbolic activity

In a country with 11 official languages and somewhere around 25 spoken ones, culture has the potential to divide, to, in Tutu's words, “tear us apart.” So finding a national symbolic activity that could unite all the citizens of the country, from whatever cultural background they might come, is useful to build a sense of national cohesion. This is the purpose of the Braai4Heritage organisation of which Tutu is patron. The organisation spells out its purpose thusly: “Braai4Heritage is an initiative that calls all South Africans to actively celebrate their common heritage by braaing on Heritage Day, 24 September. After all, braaing is a deep-rooted tradition in South Africa that cuts across all demographic groups.”

The organisation calls on South Africans all over the world to join in the celebrations by having a “braai” wherever they find themselves on that day.

Sports events are important such activities, but even there there are differences which seem to still echo the divisions of the apartheid nightmare – soccer is followed more by blacks than by whites, rugby and cricket more by whites than by blacks, for instance, though this is slowly, oh so slowly, changing.

But almost all South Africans enjoy shisa nyama, braaivleis, barbeque, whatever you choose to call it. Indeed the smoke of “braais” has become quite a standard feature of many sporting events.

The word “braaivleis” is an Afrikaans word meaning literally roast or grilled meat. The pedants among us would insist that what we do is have a vleis braai at which we eat braaivleis (a meat grill at which we eat grilled meat) but the word “braaivleis” has just come to mean the activity as well as the meat that is eaten.

A typical braai in South Africa would include various cuts of meat, salads and, of course, lots of beer. Essential ingredients of a braai are also “pap” (maize porridge) and “sous”, which is usually a tomato and onion relish. Another traditional essential is “boerewors” (literally farmer's sausage) which, according to the Braai4Heritage site, is “basically a culmination of culinary skills of the local tribes, European settlers, and Eastern arrivals. Boerewors is thus a true rainbow nation creation.”

While the majority of South Africans are able to fully participate in this festival of food, there are of course vegetarians who won't eat meat, and there are also religious minorities whose participation is not always possible – for instance if Braai Day happens to fall in the Holy Month of Ramadan Muslims will not be able to participate, at least not during daylight hours.

My daughter Caitlin and I went to one of our favourite places in Tshwane (Pretoria), Zita Park, today to see how people were celebrating Heritage Day. The accompanying photos give some idea of how people were doing it with family and friends, and generally enjoying the holiday atmosphere.

From babes in arms to gogos (grandmothers) people were out in large numbers at the park, which resonated to the sounds of laughter, shouted conversations, thumping of rubber balls and the bass-heavy beat of ghetto-blasters, and over all a heady aroma of meat on the grill.

It was a glorious occasion of South Africans being South Africans, having fun in the sun. Not too much wrong with that.

The link below is to the Braai4Heritage site where there is much interesting information about braaing, including some recipes for those who might want to try them.

Copyright notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2010

More by this Author


Comments 23 comments

judydianne profile image

judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

It sounds like an American tailgate party, before a football game. People gather in the parking lot before a game and barbecue and drink beer! Great time!

Tony, you may want to check paragraphs 3 and 5. They are duplicates. Also 2 and part of 4. Just a minor glitch.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks Judy for stopping by and commenting. And for noticing the duplications! Hope I have dealt with them adequately.

Love and peace

Tony


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 7 years ago from Southern California

That sounds wonderful, wish I were there sometimes. Great hub as usual.


Catherine R profile image

Catherine R 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

I think Braai4Heritage is a great idea. The sight of that boerewors has got my mouth watering down here!


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

How cool is that! What about lacrosse- white or black? Those sausage look a bit large, what kind are they? lol. Is there music? DO you drink local beer- if yes, what kind is popular? SO many questions, so little time, haha.


Peter Kirstein 7 years ago

As we don't celebrate "Heritage Day" in Lesotho I enviously watched on TV and listened to over radio all the "braai4Heritage" coverage! We have yet to have a braai this spring!


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

What a wonderful celebration and insight into the culture of South Africa. I didn't notice duplication, just reiteration. Great hub, thanks


Lee Boolean profile image

Lee Boolean 7 years ago

Howzit from Germany tonymac04, your hub made me homesick, hungry and longing for a cold castle... good one ouboet!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Well thanks for all the comments. The boerewors is great - was great - and the day was fine and hot and the - oh well just believe me I had fun.

Pete - sorry you missed all the fun, but have a braai man! Surely there's enough meat in Lesotho? I still remember your gran's boerewors - I have never since tasted anything so wonderful!

And Lee - yeah a cold Castle is the right accompaniment to a good braai! Don't drink it anymore myself (health reasons) but it would have gone down a treat yesterday.And I guess that answers Story's question. Castle Lager is still the top-selling beer in SA if I'm not mistaken.

Thanks again for the reads and the comments

Love and peace

Tony


shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

ooooh, sounds very nice :) specially the grilling. Thanks Tony


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 7 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

it seems as if no matter where you are on the planet we all have something in common, a celebration with family and friends


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

What a wonderful tradition!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks Habee - it is fun!

Love and peace

Tony


Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

Eish, I feel all South African ish now :)

Lovely hub.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Eish! Thnanks for the comment, Teresa.

Love and peace

Tony


Dale Nelson profile image

Dale Nelson 6 years ago from South Africa

A boerewors roll, some biltong, a castle and some currie cup rugby, the making of a perfect day. Great hub Tony Mac.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Ah, yes, the boerie roll! Love them myself. And hey, it's getting close to that time again. The sun is shining, the weather is warming up, I can almost smell the fire!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Dale. Much appreciated!

Love and peace

Tony


Ernie 6 years ago

Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays (next Friday is braii heritage day) but we can sommer visbraai nè!

Ernie


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Indeed, the day is coming really close now, Ernie! Hope you've got your fish ready for the braai!

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


Miss T  6 years ago

That is culture for whites ...we as blacks we have our own rich culuture, whites can do their thing and we can do ours ..... and we can appreciate each other like that, we have a very long way to go ...one step at a time I guess


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Miss T - Well, I don't know. I have attended many braais organised by black people too so I think is is not just a white thing. I agree that we have a long way to go and I think that sharing food together is a great way to get to know each other.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


Mdv 5 years ago

I love reading your posts. Thank you


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Mdv - thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you enjoyed.

Love and peace

Tony

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working