A solution to the Heritage Day braai debate
Heritage Day and Braai Day mark different parts of what it is to be South African - shouldn't they be on different days?
Heritage Day marks, to a large extent, the pain of South Africa’s past, which is important.
We remember that pain because we don’t want to repeat it, and to mark the events of apartheid reminds us of how far we have come.
Braai Day also marks something important.
I strongly believe that food is one of the more powerful means of building a sense of camaraderie and togetherness. I love Chinese food in part because of the social side of eating it, where you order multiple dishes with friends and share them all.
And that is pretty much how a braai works – it is cooking and eating together.
If Heritage Day is about reflecting on the struggle, Braai Day is about what we struggle for. It is about that relaxed unity that our country lacks; the unity of the dinner table. There are no enemies at a braai.
And thus, I have a solution to the whole debate – add Braai Day to the calendar as a separate public holiday.
This would work as nation building in a way that the current setup doesn’t. As it stands, both titles act in a divisive manner which only harms their nation building aspirations.
Heritage Day ends up serving as little more than a day for politicians to harangue the crowd about the evils of the past, in order to distract them from the evils politicians are perpetrating in the present.
Braai Day meanwhile ends up being seen as trivialising that past, feeding into bitterness and division.
And bitter isn’t generally a good thing at a braai.
Well, unless it is beer.
Taken as one day they undermine each other, both days mark part of what it is to be a South African but different parts. Separated however, they compliment each other, one marking the past and the other the future we would like to see.