Heritage Day: keeping The Khoisan Culture Alive In Patingo People’s Park, Austerville

Every day people all over the world celebrate their cultural heritage, simply by living their lives in a way that embodies who they are and where they came from. One day in a year is set aside to celebrate the joint history and heritage of the country. Heritage Day encourages us to celebrate all the diverse cultures of our country and to bring awareness to important cultural monuments and sites.

The initiative calls on South Africans to “unite around fires, share our heritage and wave our flag”. Shisha nyama or “braai” is the equivalent of a barbeque – but the comparison stops there as this activity is deeply entrenched in South African food culture and is more than just a food experience; it’s a community activity. Have your meat with pap, and you will be one of the guys.

This was the aura at the Petingo Peoples Park in Austerville, on Thursday, 24 September, where many community members came together to celebrate Heritage Day Khoisan style. They braaied and reminisced around the bonfire. They even heeded the President’s call to dance in unity to the tune of ‘Jerusalema’.

Sitting around a fire is the perfect way to unwind with loved ones. In fact, talking around a fire is credited with Khoisan culture tens of thousands of years ago. It’s how our ancestors bonded, relaxed, and entertained each other. They sang songs, told stories, and engaged in elaborate dances, which we can still do to this day. The Petingo Peoples’ Park Committee have suggested that they will return to this tradition, even in their day to day discussions.

A study of Africa’s Kalahari Bushmen at Utah University suggests that stories told over firelight helped human culture and thought to evolve by reinforcing social traditions, promoting harmony and equality, and sparking the imagination to envision a broad sense of community, both with distant people and the spirit world.

Deon Amos of the Petingo People’s Park committee would like to thank the Neighborhood for supporting the Heritage Day Celebrations. The Organization is progressively working towards the Park’s official Launch during the month of December, with the hope of the Ethekwini municipality’s support towards building infrastructure, namely; toilets, Restrooms, Play Area. Outdoor facilities such as; a gym. Recreational facilities such as Astroturf skills and training center, bicycle tracks, and space for arts and culture.

This Non-Profit Organization recently registered with the aim of progressively working towards supporting the youth and kids of the most vulnerable areas in the community, where crime, social ills, and substance abuse is rife. “We thank all those who have partnered with us on this journey and welcome those who would like to participate in assisting in making this dream come true.

“We have an opportunity to give a voice to our ancestors, elders, and our future generation to reclaim our cultural identity through education in solidarity, through exposure, and bringing awareness. Let us continue embracing our culture and keeping it alive. Between self-determination and preservation, it remains vibrant and as resilient as ever.

By: Lorraine Richards

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