Dressed in a shirt and scarf both adorned with the South African flag, I am not sure whether I felt like a local or a tourist; but as it was the 24th of September and thus Heritage Day in South Africa I found it imperative to display my pride in my country. The Company Gardens in Cape Town came alive on a whole other level on this commemorative day implemented as a public holiday in 2006 to celebrate our nation’s diverse cultural heritage.
There was plenty to see and do on this remarkable day – and, of course, to eat and drink as well. An arts and artisans’ market sold a diverse range of bags, clothing and jewellery, as well a plethora of other arts and crafts. One could even unwind by having a relaxing massage right under the trees.
After Sunday’s grim and grey weather, the Monday had turned for the best and the golden sunshine was a warm relief. There was an amazing turnout and people were swarming through the park even as the sun began to set. Picnics, friendly chatter and good times were the norm of the day with families and friends scattered about the Gardens, drinking in the sunshine. The familiar smell of boerewors rolls filled the air, making it a distinctly South African day.
The Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra had everyone enthralled with a stirring rendition of the theme song from Pirates of the Caribbean, an interesting interpretation of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and several other classics. The music reverberated throughout the Gardens and the crowd showed their approval with resounding cheers and thunderous applause.
Placing the orchestra in such an unusual setting was a visual and auditory treat, the jovial tone kept alive with comedian Wayne McKay acting as the MC. The feeling all around was one of community and cheer, perfect then for a day to celebrate not only our heritage as individuals but also as a nation coming together. The location was truly spectacular and with it being the oldest garden in the country, certainly ideal.
From the turnout it was clear that this was an important day for all South Africans. Heritage Day has also been dubbed “National Braai Day”; considering the very nature of a braai (being that it draws people together in order to spend time with one another), nothing could be more suitable. So whether you had a braai, relaxed with friends, or just spent some time by yourself unwinding, the point is to always spare a moment to reflect on where you come from, appreciate your roots, and then celebrate them.[box] Written By: Claudia Hauter[/box]