As a country with 11 official languages and a multitude of local and immigrated cultures, South Africa provides a vibrant combination of traditions, forms of expression, knowledge, and history that makes South Africa such a unique country.
Despite this, young people in South Africa remain largely unaware of the characteristics of the different cultures that exist within their country and are instead only exposed to the few cultures that are the most prominent in their home communities. The aftermath of apartheid has left wide divisions between cultures and races in South Africa and furthermore, people have become used to negatively viewing others who are different from them.
On Saturday, the 26th of October, the Africa Unite School Club hosted a virtual Heritage Day Event on Zoom, in which each of the 12 participating schools got assigned a culture that they were asked to research prior to the event. After an initial reluctance to present a culture other than their own, most learners enjoyed researching another culture and gained a new sense of expertise and open mindedness.
On the day, each school gave a presentation on the different aspects that make this culture unique. During these presentations, learners educated their peers and some invited principals and teachers about cultural rituals and customs, language, population size, origins, housing and clothing styles, traditional food and dance, history, religious traditions and much more. Some school clubs beautifully honoured different cultures by reciting their clan names (ukuzithutha) at the beginning of their presentations and some even went as far as teaching the audience some local greetings, which was much appreciated. Each presentation got followed up by a Q&A part, where the audience could ask questions and share feedback.
Here is the list of participating schools and the culture they presented:
1)Ashton Combined School – Ovimbundu
2)Ikusasalentsha High School – IsiXhosa
3)Lamontville High School – SeTswana
4)Fons Luminis Secondary School – Khoisan
5)Newgate College – Islamic (Muslim)
6)Hector Peterson FET School – Venda
7)Masibambane Secondary School – Shangaan
8)Rosendaal High School – IsiZulu
9)Dr. Nelson Mandela High School – Chewa (Malawi)
10)Portland High School – Ndebele (Zimbabwe)
11)HeideveldSenior School – Kingwana (Congolese)
12)Gardens Commercial High School & Salt River High School – Indian (Hindi)
The goal of this event was to expose youth to cultures other than their own and in doing so, to open their minds and to better their understanding of those who are different from themselves.
Despite a few technical difficulties at the beginning, it was a successful event that helped our learners and the audience increase their cultural awareness and most importantly celebrate South Africa’s diversity.
We thank everyone for participating and hope that next year we can have a live Heritage Day event instead of having to make do with the technical challenges of an online platform.