South African public holidays
September is heritage month in South Africa. We like these month-long gigs named after the most significant public holiday of that month. Sometimes, though there is more than one “most significant” public holiday a month and then we have a competition for recognition of sorts. In no particular order, June is youth month because of June 16, 1976 which was the day of the Soweto uprisings, now just called “youth day”. August is women’s month because of the march on the Union buildings on August 9th, 1956. September is heritage month … and on it goes. But thank Goddess that December is not reconciliation month, which would be just the kind of weirdness Safrikans are capable of coming up with. I think by December everybody is so worn out and ready for a bit of a break that they gloss over world aids day and wait for the party season to start. Then it’s new year’s day before you know it and all the work starts again. I must admit that the first six months are my absolute favourite as far as endless breaks are concerned: new year’s (01 Jan), sharpeville day (now called by the benign ‘human rights day’ – 21 March), easter (four and sometimes 5 whole days off in march or april), freedom day on 27 April and May Day on 01 May. When one of these holidays falls on a Sunday, it’s even merrier because there is an extra Monday for us there somewhere.
This is all odd, of course, since I am a workaholic of note and therefore generally tend to do some work most days of the year. Yet, a public holiday puts me in an exceptionally good mood. Except May Day and Good Friday, that is. It’s incredible to me that most people have to get to work even on May Day. Me thinks this a sad and unfortunate irony. I was raised Catholic and so Good Friday is not exactly party day given the historical and religious significance. But in addition to this, Good Friday is also the day with the worst possible television programming every. It’s quite remarkable really.
I am usually exhausted by the beginning of September, which explains this post. Heritage? Let’s see. Rather than the usual things about culture and remembering things to be proud of, it would be really good to focus on some broader heritage issues this month. Foremost in my mind are thoughts of Zimbabwe (since I have just come from there and I will be writing a whole lot on that trip over the next few weeks), Biko (since Biko day is a September non-public holiday), SA higher education transformation (since the ministerial committee writes up its submission this month)
It’s not clear – at least not to me -why September is heritage month. Below are some events that tooks place in the month of September before 1994:
2 September 1879 The Zulu and British sign a peace treaty
5 September 1909 Yusuf Dadoo was born.
7 September 1992 the Bisho Massacre.
10 September 1944 ANCYL officially launched.
25 September 1774 Viva Frelimo rallies by SASO.
I am pretty sure it was not named for one of them, though.