Heritage Day celebrates and recognises the diverse cultures that make up South Africa. South African heritage encompasses aspects such as language, history, expression, food, wildlife and land.

In South Africa, we celebrate Heritage Month from 1 September to 30 September, annually. This month honours the various cultures and diversities in our country, from the 11 official languages, our cuisine, music and creative expressions of our historical inheritance.

Heritage Sites are named after struggle icons in South Africa. There are various heritage sites across the country, that have been named after fallen struggle heroes. In the Northern Cape, Sol Plaatje Municipality is named after Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje a journalist, politician, translator and writer amongst many other roles Plaatje assumed. His writings include a novel, Mhudi, An Epic of South African Native Life a Hundred Years Ago, and four translations of Shakespeare plays into Setswana. Plaatje was also the first General Secretary of the South African Native National Congress, which later became the African National Congress.

South African heritage encompasses aspects such as language, history, expression, food, wildlife and land. South Africans are
urged to visit local heritage sites during this month.

Heritage sites and infrastructures are named after struggles heroes, such as:

• The Nelson Mandela Museum, and Steve Biko Memorial in the Eastern Cape.
• The King Shaka International Airport in KwaZulu-Natal.
• The Tshwane Municipality in Gauteng.

South Africa is home to eight World Heritage Sites. The country is home to eight of the 981 World Heritage Sites which are under the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation, and this category places them in outstanding cultural and historical importance.

The country also has 17 national heritage sites, which means that buildings and infrastructures are properly preserved when they reach heritage site status. The World Heritage Sites are:

• Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo Robben Island in the Western Cape.
• Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng.
• The Cape Floral Region in both the Western and Eastern Cape.
• Vredefort Dome in the Free State.
• uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.
• Isimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu- Natal.
• Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in the Northern Cape.

Why are these heritage sites important?

Before 1994, museums and monuments were not accessible for everyone, and only a few truly represented South Africa as it only reflected the political ideals of the apartheid-era government. Since South Africa’s liberation in 1994, the government has pledged to preserve and protect heritage sites and name them appropriately after fallen struggle icons.

The monuments and museums are set in place to represent and reflect on the history of our country, and cultural institutions are aligned with the Constitution and Bill of Rights that look into the recognition and respect for our diverse cultures.

Article by Buhle Lindwa