Public holidays in South Africa - Heritage Day – 24 September

samuiblue @ freedigitalphotos.net
samuiblue @ freedigitalphotos.net
map @ Wikimedia Commons
map @ Wikimedia Commons | Source

South Africa, The Rainbow Nation

South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation because it is the homeland of many cultures.

What to do on a public holiday called Heritage Day when each of these many cultures has their own set of bad and good memories and current issues?

Those who are labelled as terrorist by one culture are the heroes of another culture. Those who were sentenced to jail by one culture, were/are or could become the government of another culture.

According to the census conducted in 2011 the citizens of South Africa are categorized into the following groups –

  • 79,2% Blacks (± 41 million)
  • 8,9% Whites (± 4,5 million)
  • 8,9% Coloureds (± 4,5 million)
  • 2.5% Indians/Asians (± 1,2 million)
  • 0,5% Others (± 280 thousand)

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE GROUPS COMPRISES MANY ETHNIC GROUPS!

Each of them with their own language or dialect, their own mythical belief system and religion, own traditional rituals, traditional clothing, their own heroes and martyrs and grievances due to never-ending wars and disputes in the past. They have their own system of justice and tribal authorities, although since Westernisation subordinated to laws imposed by the national government.

Today the people in South-Africans are supposed to be ONE nation, a Rainbow Nation. Apartheid and oppression are no longer allowed, yet against all odds they are still separated via social categories such as White, Black, Coloured, Asian and Very-rich, Rich, Middle-class, Poor and Very-Poor.

Although English is the home-language of the minority, English is the country’s official language-medium. The majority, I would dare to say 99% of all educated people, can speak, read and write English as well as their mother-tongue. Many of them have also mastered a third, fourth and even fifth language.

A summary of ethnic and cultural diversity in South-Africa –

This is but only a summary of fragmented content that will fill an entire encyclopaedia. But I do believe that this will give a reader half an idea of the complex population of South Africa.

A (khoi) San tribesman

@ Wikimedia Commons
@ Wikimedia Commons | Source

The Khoisan People, comprises the Khoi- and the San people -

The Khoisan People, comprises the Khoi- and the San people was the original inhabitants of Southern Africa and descendants of the prehistoric Sangoan people. Being hunter-gatherers the Khoi and San people were also mobile races with no desire to own a specific region. Due to intermarriages and also because they instinctively prefer to live in regions with an annual rainfall of less than 40 inches, and because Westernisation is the very last of their desire, small tribes are still living in parts of the Kalahari Desert.

However, due to intermarriages thousands, if not millions, of their descendants are today very much alive in South Africa, but thoroughly integrated in another racial group.

Interesting:

“Genetic studies suggested that the San people may have been one of the first populations to differentiate from the most recent common paternal ancestor of all extant humans.” (Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khoisan)

A caricature of Saartjie Baartman

Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman @ Wikimedia Commons.
Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman @ Wikimedia Commons. | Source

Famous personalities of the Khoi-San People -

Chief David Stuurman and Jantjie Piet, who had been activist against colonialism in 1808/9.

Saartjie Baartman – the so-called “Hottentot Venus”, who were exhibited in freak-shows in Europe.

Willem Uithalder, the leader of a rebel group against colonialism (1851).

(Read more about them at -

http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2013/03/31/sa-seeks-to-bring-khoisan-chief-s-remains-home-from-australia)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Baartman)

Page 159 in http://repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/12783/005_p150-199.pdf?sequence=3)

The Nguni People –

The Nguni people are originally from Central and East Africa. According to historians their settlements in the eastern part of SA that boarders the Indian Ocean emerged between 300 and 500 A.D.


This Negroid racial group comprises the Swazi-, Zulu-, Ndebele- in the northern half, and the Xhosa-, Thembu-, Bomvana-, Mpondo- (a sub-group of the Xhosa), Fengu-, Bhaca- and Mpondomise- people in the Southern half. The Zulu and Xhosa were the most dominant people of the Ngundi race. Until today they are not madly in love with each other. The Zulu language is the most common home language in S.A. The second most common is iXhosa.

Famous Kings and other Leaders of the Nguni People –

(I mention only a few just to emphasize the dilemma regarding the heritage of South Africa.)

NB: ‘King’ is a Western word; a better description of the word ‘king’ in the Nguni group is ‘Chief’ or ‘Lord’. The Nguni word was/is inkosi.

Zulu: King Senzangakhona (the father of Shaka), King Shaka Zulu, who had killed the heir to the throne with a spear), King Dingane (the half-brother and assassinator of King Shaka [1828]), etc.

Bhaca: King Madzikane, who had managed to unite many different people and tribes, Crown prince Sonyangwe (burnt to death in his hut by traitors), King Ncapayi (killed in 1845 during a battle with the Mpondo people,) King Mdutyane, King Diko, King Mhlontlo, etc.

Thembu: King Ngubengcuka, and the most famous, our previous president, Nelson Mandela and the freedom fighter, Walter Sisulu.

Mpondo: King Faku (1815-1867),

Ndebele: Their former, Chief Musi, Chief Nyabela and his successor, Cornelius.

Swazi: The original Chief Dlamini and all his successors. Sobhuza I, Mswati II, Mbandzeni, etc.

Xhosa: Their legendary first king, uXhosa, and other legendary chiefs, the well-known Desmond Tutu, first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town.

* ALL OF THESE PEOPLE AND MANY-MANY MORE MADE SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE HERITAGE OF SOUTH-AFRICA.

Nelson Mandela

@ Wikimedia Commons
@ Wikimedia Commons | Source

The Sotho-Tswana people –

The Sotho-Tswana people are originally from the Katanga area (see Republic of The Congo) in Central Africa. They migrated to the south some time between 200-500 A.D. along the central and western part of Africa. This race comprises the Batswana (Western-Sotho), the Basotho (Southern-Sotho) the Bapedi (Northern-Sotho). Not only their language, but a number of cultural differences distinguish them from other races in South Africa. According to historians their common ancestor was a chief named Mogale. They all speak Setswana or a dialect of this language.

Interesting about this race: They did not easily choose war to achieve their goals or to solve any disputes. Discontented members of a clan would simply break away to form a new clan under the leadership of a discontented relative of an existing chief. But they quickly united and centralised to protect themselves and their belongings against the aggressive Zulu warriors and the white settlers who had invaded their regions during the second half of the 18th century.

NB: Thousands of British soldiers had died during their wars and revolts with the Zulus and Xhosas – Ref:

Famous leaders of the Sotho-Tswana people –

Their leaders were called chiefs – one for each clan. Their ultimate authority was called 'Kgosi' (Lord).

(‘King’ is a Western word; a better description of the word ‘king’ in the Sotho-Tswana group is ‘Chief’ or ‘Lord’. The Sotho/Tswana words were/are ‘morena’, ‘kgosana’, ‘kgosi’, ‘dikgosi’.)

Basotho: King Moshoeshoe, the founder of Basotholand, today known as Lesotho.

Bapedi: King Sekwati, King Sekhukhune, (1814–1882), etc.

Tswana: Chief Morolong and his successors, and Sol Plaatje (1876 – 1932) – an intellectual, journalist, linguist, politician, translator and writer -

ALL OF THESE PEOPLE AND MANY-MANY MORE MADE SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE HERITAGE OF SOUTH-AFRICA.

Sol Plaatje

Sol Plaatje @ Wikimedia Commons.
Sol Plaatje @ Wikimedia Commons. | Source

Tsonga people (The Shangaans)

The Tsonga people are originally from North-Central Africa, comprising inter alia the Shangaan-, the Thonga- , the Tonga- and many smaller groups. They are a minority in South-Africa, but a majority in other Africa countries south of the equator. (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi.) Read more about the Tsonga people here and here.


The Venda People -

This unique people are descendants from many clans originally from Central Africa and in particularly from the Congo. Read more about them here.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, retired Anglican bishop @ Wikimedia Commons.
Desmond Mpilo Tutu, retired Anglican bishop @ Wikimedia Commons. | Source

European-South Africans

European-South Africans, called Whites, are originally from European counties such as the Netherlands, Germany, France, Britain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, including thousands of Jews. Today the majority Whites (about 60%) speaks Afrikaans, a unique ‘dialect’ of Dutch enriched with words borrowed from other languages. The majority of the rest have English as their home-language while the others, such as the Portuguese, Italians and Greeks still speak the language of their original country.

According to wikipedia 4,602,386 Whites are currently living in South Africa, allegedly oppressed since the demolishing of Apartheid in 1994. (See some statistics of hate crime that may be classified as Genocide (the systematic killing of people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political opinion, social status) at The-truth-about-south-africa.

Some famous leaders and pioneers of Europeans-South Africans

Jan van Riebeeck (1652), the first white (Dutch) colonial administrator and founder of Cape Town.

The Voortrekker leaders (1836): Louis Tregardt, Hendrik Potgieter, Sarel Cilliers, Pieter Uys, Gerrit Maritz, Piet Retief and Andries Pretorius.

Marthinus Wessel Pretorius, the first president of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) (1856 to 1900, interrupted by British rule from 1877 – 1881 and finally ended by British rule in 1901).

BTW, a great-grandfather of mine, Philippus Jeremia Coetser (named Kaleshaan by the blacks), was a member of this parliament for 36 years and in particularly involved with ‘Bantu Affairs’. (Those days blacks were called Bantus.)

Paul Kruger, President of (ZAR) from 1883 to the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War on 11 October 1899. Kruger died in exile from heart failure on 14 July 1904 in Clarens, Switserland.

Louis Botha, the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa. This union came into being on 31 May 1910, when the then four British colonies in South-Africa became one dominion (unitary state) of the British Empire.

Charles Robert Swart, the first State President of the Republic of South Africa. (On 31 May 1961, after 50 years’ of British domination, SA was finally allowed to become an independent country.)

Frederik Willem de Klerk – the 7th and last State President of the Apartheids-era (1961-1994) in South Africa. De Klerk and Nelson Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. .

Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902). Industrial and economical development until 1961, and especially between 1860 and 1910 in South Africa was mainly due to the domination of the British Empire and British entrepreneurs. Cecil John Rhodes, Prime Minister of the Cape Province (1890- 1895) was the co-founder of the De Beers (diamond) Mining Company April (1880) . He was also the founder of the southern African territory of Rhodesia,

Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner, British High Commissioner and Governor of the Cape Colony (1897- Although his actions caused intense hardship among Afrikaans-speaking whites and all other groups, he was a key-figure in the reconstruction of the country after the Second_Boer_War and the development of gold mining in South Africa. He was considered to be one of the best officials in the British government of S.A.

Charles Robert Swart

South African President C.R. Swart @ Wikimedia Commons
South African President C.R. Swart @ Wikimedia Commons | Source

F.W. de Klerk

Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992
Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992 | Source

The Coloured People -

The Coloured People, also known as the Brown People (opposed to Black, White, Indian and Asian)

This group was originally the Cape Malay - slaves mainly from Indonesia, imported or brought along by white Europeans (1652+).

Interracial affairs between the white settlers and their slaves, as well as interracial affairs between the whites and the Khoi-San people, led to the formation of the group we know today as “The Coloureds” or the “Brown People”.

(The freedom of having inter-racial relationships was only inhibited during the Apartheids-Era.)

This group comprises many unofficial sub-groups, each with their own unique features. The following interracial affairs were not uncommon between -

  • The white settlers and the Khoi-San people in the Cape Province. The consequences of this was the formation of a new, unique group called the Cape-Coloureds.
  • White farmers (Trekboere) and Khoi-San people in the Northern Cape. The consequences of this was the formation of a new, unique group called The Griqua_people.
  • British settlers/soldiers and Zulu's and/or Indians in Natal.
  • Whites and Blacks all over the country.

Afrikaans (or remarkable dialect of Afrikaans) is the home-language of 90% of the Coloured people.

Great achievers among the Coloureds –

Trevor Manuel, former South African Finance Minister.

Adam Small, poet, writer, political activist

Patricia de Lille, curently Mayor of Cape Town

Coloureds

An extended Coloured family @ Wikimedia Commons
An extended Coloured family @ Wikimedia Commons | Source

Asians in South Africa

This group comprises the Indians, Chinese and other people from Asia.

During the 19th Century the Indians were ‘imported’ by the British to work in the sugar plantations of the Colony of Natal, previously the Kingdom of the Zulu People and today known as KwaZulu Natal. The Chinese were imported to work in the Gold Mines of Johannesburg.

The most famous lawyer and non-violent activist against racial discrimination and British oppression, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), managed in 1914 to obtain lasting civil rights for the Indians in South Africa. Thereafter the Indians had distinguished themselves as successful retailers all over the country.


Today also the Chinese People seem to flourish as retailers, restaurant owners and technicians.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

 Mohandas K. Gandhi @ Wikimedia Commons
Mohandas K. Gandhi @ Wikimedia Commons | Source

Illegal Immigrants -

At least 5-8 million illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and other Africa countries sporadically results in xenophobic attacks. More attacks are predicted by the Lawyers for Human Rights.

The ANC-government’s horrendous denial of this threat, as well as their denial of the systematic killing of whites by blacks (genocide!), may hopefully come to an end soon.

Conclusion

Keeping all of this fragmented detail in mind, a media-campaign inspired the successful re-branding of Heritage Day as National Braai Day, or more correctly, Braai4Heritage Day, under the peaceful patronage of Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


Unfortunately many citizens of the country now feel offended and bereaved of their right to honour the heroes of their own culture.

© Martie Coetser

But, I say, let us braai and celebrate because we are still alive ‘down here’ and able to appreciate the fresh air that we breathe, the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, exquisite fauna and flora and the love and support of our relatives and friends.

artur84 @ freedigitalphotos.net
artur84 @ freedigitalphotos.net

More by this Author


Comments 20 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Articles like this one are so important, Martie. If we are ever to break down the walls of prejudice and bias and hate, it will be through raising awareness. You do not legislate the end of hate...you educate. :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Martie, Africa as a whole is probably the most diverse country on the planet Earth. It's sad to see that there is still so much dissention going on. I have a friend who lived in SA for a few years. She absolutely loves it. In fact, last year she took her new husband (they are both widowed) to SA for a two week vacation. Her husband was so enamored that they are planning a 4-week vacation in the next few years.

I was wondering what 'coloreds' were in your country, but you explained it. Once upon a time ago in America black people were called 'colored'. Now we have so many 'politically correct' names for people that are not white or Asian or Mexican. I guess anyone who isn't 'white' can be considered 'colored'. But there starts a war. They've all come to live and prosper here but want to segregate themselves even further than the whites did a long time ago. Progress? Not if they really take a good look!


Lastheart profile image

Lastheart 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

Up, across, shared and definitely awesome. Thanks so much for this information. This is for my private collection. Africa grows in m heart each day.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

I always learn so much from your hubs concerning Africa. I remember asking Tony why the white people stole the land from the Africans. He responded by telling me that white people had been their for centuries. The person i admire is Gandhi. If the world could visualize his dreams, war would cease and we would come together in respect for each culture. Thank you my dear friend. Stay safe in this world that's so full of hate.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

What a magnificent informative dissertation, Martie. I have bookmarked your noble effort so I may return and study it more thoroughly. I learned more from this single hub than from many articles I have read in the past about the various cultures residing in South Africa. Thanks for enlarging my education. Voted up, m'luv.


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Excellent research and writing, Martie! I did a lot of thinking about the melting pot that constitutes Hawaiian culture as I read your article.

Learning about other cultures and being aware of the differences while earnestly searching for similarities go a long way in keeping global tensions to a minimum. To that end, thank you, dear friend, for sharing this informative piece with us.

Aloha, Martie!

~Joe


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

MartieCoetser incredible indeed Heritage Day and National Braai day such a wonderful day to be with family and friends. You have created an interesting hub about this day. I so enjoyed reading about my country brings back many memories.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

@ billybuc – Somehow we always preach to the choir... While the wheel turns....

@ bravewarrior – Africa is a beautiful continent, but the people living on it – most of them – are still intellectually and emotionally somewhere in the Middle Ages. (Remember the revolutions in France and Russia; the behavior of those people.) Maybe if Nature in Africa was harder to beat, maybe if ice and extreme cold could have forced people to use their brains... Anyway, before I instigate yet another war.... It’s all about perspective and attitude. Some people know that they have to give before they can receive, while others believe that the mere fact that they are alive means they should receive without lifting a finger – a wide-spread attitude detectible in all races.

@ Lastheart – The history of Africa is very interesting, but so is the history of all continents (and countries). I have so much to share about the cultures in my country. Sadly, the population all over the world had become like magma released by volcanoes – killing the earth as far as it goes.

@ always exploring – The history of South Africa can easily be compared with America’s. As you know, all whites are originally from Europe. They were the navigators who had discovered (and greedily annexed) other countries. Ahoy! This is an interesting topic of discussion :)

@ drbj – Your comment is such a compliment. Now I am no longer mad at myself because I have spent so much time on this. I’ve said it somewhere: We know what we know, but when we decide to put it on paper we have to make sure we know what we should know. I wanted to give an idea – only a perspective. One does not need a lot of detail to understand a specific situation. I mean: There he lies, man on the pavement, dead as a doornail. We don’t need any detail in order to know that the man had turned into a corpse. Thereafter comes the hunger for the answer of the most famous question – WhoWhatWhereWhy :)

If you have any WWWWW’s, drbj, you are welcome to throw them my way :)

@ hawaiianodysseus – I am sure that the info in this hub, however fragmented, is enough to enhance a foreigner’s perception of SA. Now I am curious about Hawaii :) Aloha, my friend!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

DDE – My dear fellow-South African, yes we cannot forget the country where we were born and raised, no matter where we live for the rest of our lives. But you know you are better off now :)


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

It is always interesting, my Sista, when the USA is referred to as the Melting Pot...when I read this exemplary tutorial of cultural enrichment, I see what true diversity is.

I very much appreciate the idea behind Heritage Day, especially valuing your descriptive and informative article, serving to spread the message even more to your readers. Voted UP and UABI. Love, mar


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Marcoujor, your comment means a lot to me. I love my country; I want to appreciate the good and ignore the bad. After all, at the end of the day/week/month/year/millennium Good always prevails. Not that we will ever guess this when we read the newspapers of the day. Thanks for the votes and for all your wonderful love and support :)


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Dearest Martie,

Thank you for such a comprehensive hub here as to the many diverse cultures in South Africa, how fascinating! I had no clue dear friend. You have obviously put a lot of work into this most insightful and informative hub here. Yes, I can see why it is called the Rainbow Nation.

I truly love your closing statement as to that which you are able to still appreciate and those are very beautiful things in this life to appreciate. You are a great educator indeed!

Up and more and sharing

Hugs and much love to you and yours,

Faith Reaper


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Ditto my friend. Everyone has added a kernel of knowledge in their comments and made a point of our ignorance, here in America, of what truly comprises Africa.

You have shown that the US is definitely not the only "melting pot" in the world and also highlighted how this mixture of people from all over the world often leads to conflict and discontent. I am with you my friend, we need to enjoy the beauty around us and support our relatives and friends...then like the last picture in your hub, the goodness can spread and we can start to live in a peaceful world!

Thank you for this great information. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared.


Your Cousins profile image

Your Cousins 3 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Very interesting article that breaks down the various groups of people and explores their heritage. This gives me background on the diverse population of South Africa, a place that I hope to visit one day.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

@ Faith Reaper – I am so glad you have found this fascinating. All countries have their domestic issues. Sadly, most people are not even interested in the history of their own country, while history is the best teacher. How will we know what to appreciate if we don’t know what life was like in the past, or in other countries? Hugs to you and yours, my dearest Faith :)

@ tillsontitan – The more we know, the less we will judge and condemn and the more we will be able to appreciate the things we take for granted. There is so much truth in the saying, “The mills of God grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small.”

@ Your Cousins – S.A. is a beautiful country with the kindest of people and extra-ordinary fauna and flora. However, tourist should rather not tour this country on their own. If not with South African friends and/or relatives, then under the protection of a professional tour guide. I hope to see you if you ever set foot on shore :)


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

I feel a full fledge book in the making from our very own MartieCoetser. Martie this article is full of the richness of your country. You have outlined this neatly and succinctly. I have read many books about the Boar War and South African gold and diamond exploration.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Mckbirdbks, I am very proud of our rich history; I get lyrical about the various cultures and their beliefs and rituals. I must take the time to write about this. If ever you feel like reading a very interesting book about Africa's culture, I recommend "My People" by Credo Mutwa. Available somewhere online. There ARE so many good (intentions) in all rituals and legends, so much sense in it. Only when greed becomes the better of us we become evil.. Oh, and the history concerning British interference takes the cake. But then, if it was not for the British, and before them the Hollanders, and also the Portuguese navigators who had discovered a way to the East, people would still have been hunters and gatherers down here, walking barefoot on diamonds and gold and carpets of wild grass and soil. Thanks so much for your support :)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a fascinating hub, Martie! I very much appreciate all the information and details that you have included in the article. South Africa sounds like it has a very complex and very interesting collection of peoples and cultures.


btrbell profile image

btrbell 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Thank you! What a beautiful comprehensive hub! I am so disappointed that my South African trip was cancelled. I wanted so much to learn and be a part of your culture even if only for 2 weeks! Up+++ and sharing! Hapy Heritage day! And I hope it was a great braai!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

@ Alicia, 'very interesting' indeed. I hope all readers of this hub will hence have a broader perspective on S.A. Thanks!

@ btrbell - So sorry to hear you trip has been cancelled. September-October is the best time to visit S.A. :)

    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