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As I tried to write this past long weekend, I found myself interrupted time and again with the sounds of my neighbours celebrating Heritage Day (which was Thursday BTW). Loud parties that lasted well into the night with doef-doef sounds that made the music indistinct and the smell of meat roasting over open flames (we call it braaiing) made up the celebrations. I’m vegetarian so it was quite horrible…

Yet that is our heritage – or so I assume seeing as Heritage Day and National Braai Day happen to be the same day.

Heritage Day is a public holiday celebrated on 24 September. South Africans are encouraged to celebrate the rich cultural heritage and the diversity of their rainbow nation. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day. – gov.za

I heard quite by accident that it’s the rugby world cup this year. I haven’t watched a proper rugby match since I became vegetarian. I’m not sure whether it has something to do with the braaiing tradition that goes with it or because I lost interest when I didn’t know any rugby players any more. Rugby and braai is a huge cultural thing. And I’m not part of that.

Suffice to say that I’ve lost some of my heritage when I became a serious writer. That included stopping to write Afrikaans and reading South African books…

Though I should mention that I’ve gotten in touch with my roots this year. Not just by writing in Afrikaans and publishing it on Woes as part of a writing group thing, but also reading more work by local writers.

I still don’t braai, though.

Those living with me know that they should keep the dead animal flesh away from me. Especially after this week where I had to bury yet another couple of my chickens in the orchard…

In a country with so many cultures, I’m not entirely sure what Heritage Day is all about. Some say it’s all about how we’ve come together as a Rainbow Nation. (Which makes sense to me.)

Others say it’s all about the braai.

I hope not. I don’t get invited to braais anymore. Perhaps because I don’t like the smoke, the beer, the carb-loading or the dead animal flesh involved? And a braai can last a whole afternoon and most of the night. Which seriously cuts into my writing time.

Now I sound like a brat who only writes and condemns meat-eaters…

I like a good party as much as the next person. But if you are going to have a loud party at least have the decency to dial it down after 8pm – sound travels at night. And please stop with the animal sacrifices at the same time – no one should eat meat so late at night.

Now I sound like I’m 80yrs old… though I do feel cranky when I’m constantly disturbed while I write by people celebrating a holiday they don’t even know the reason for.

respect others

Now, unofficially known as Braai Day – thanks to the efforts of Jan Braai – families, friends and strangers unite at various events around the country celebrating South Africa’s unique heritage and building bridges to overcome it’s painful past by chucking a tjoppie on the braai. – CapeTownMagazine.com

 

Maybe it’s because I don’t see race and because I didn’t grow up during Apartheid – I went to primary school after Madiba became president – that I don’t get it. But I truly believe that the only bridges I need to mend are the ones I burn down myself. It shouldn’t be expected of me to make up for what a couple of myopic idiots did decades ago.

 

If you treat others the way you want to be treated, you’ll live the life you should. (We’ll, one can hope.)

 

Do you have any cultural/ heritage stories you’d like to share? Do you get confused about public holidays because you’re a writer and rarely know the date? Have you turned into a social pariah because of your own (possibly valid) beliefs? I’m a writer, a vegetarian, I bury my dead chickens in the backyard and I don’t get invited to braais – what’s your deal?

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