When the National Braai Day initiative was started ten years ago, we sought simply to find a way to encourage all South Africans to actively celebrate their heritage by uniting around fires on National Heritage Day each year.
The National Braai Day initiative is there to support and enhance the National Heritage Day public holiday and ensure that it reaches its potential of being our national day of celebration.
Every year there are counter revolutionaries that recycle their unsubstantiated claims about this initiative being anti heritage and evil and this is just wrong. To prescribe to people what to do and how to act is a recipe for failure and contrary to the democratic values of our country.
This initiative is a revolution to unite all South Africans around fires to actively celebrate their heritage and we ask all South Africans to join it. My message to those counter revolutionaries is to stop trying to make a raging fire of controversy and rather make a raging fire of national unity and then braai some meat on it.
National Heritage Day is a public holiday - it’s at the start of summer and the weather is usually great – so let’s all of us, as a nation, do something together we all actually enjoy doing. Let’s braai. It’s an ancient part of our culture and as relevant and contemporary today as it was 160,000 years ago when the first homo sapiens anywhere in the world - this is a scientific fact - had a braai in South Africa.
But let’s not forget about celebrating and sharing our rich and diverse heritage because there is a lot of it. I’m simply proposing that we unite around fires and use that unity as the platform to share and celebrate what is great about this nation.
Across race, language, region and religion, we all share one common heritage as South Africans. It is called many things - Chisa Nyama, Braai and Ukosa to name a few. And although the ingredients may differ, the one thing that never changes is that when we have something to celebrate we light fires, and prepare great feasts. This act of braai is not our only heritage, it is simply one we all share, and I consider that pretty special.
We will continue with this mission of the National Braai Day initiative: I call on all South Africans everywhere in the country, the continent and the world to unite around fires, share our heritage and wave our flag this 24 September. On a practical level, please use the hashtag #BraaiForHeritage on social media.
- Jan Braai