Heritage Day Thoughts

Most of my ancestors came to South Africa around 1800 -1860. My great, great grandmother on my father’s side gave birth to my great grandfather in a wagon on their way to Zimbabwe in 1889. Whenever I feel weak, I remember her living in an ox wagon with children and a new born baby travelling vast distances, and I remember I come from a line of strong women.

That family line lived there until my parents returned to South Africa in the 1980s. They were basically lost to their family here in South Africa as they didn’t have the technology we have today. I was the first born again on South African soil from that direct line. Many of my ancestors were builders, stone masons, shoemakers, store owners, and worked on the railways. My mother’s family also lived in Zambia and Zimbabwe, after arriving in South Africa. My husband has a very mixed heritage and it is a little more difficult for us to find all of his family history, but it is an interesting one. Together, we have blended our lives and our histories together to form a multi-cultural family. I know there are many families in South Africa that have mixed cultural backgrounds 🌸.

Sadness & Gratitude

During this Heritage month, I can’t help but feel a little sadness. Sadness because of what my heritage represents to many in South Africa but I am also proud of my ancestors and what they overcame. Many of them were pioneers and fought in the World Wars. My own Grandfather, who I never met, was a prisoner of war in Italy. The women in my family had to be strong and often became young widows. I’d like to think that I have the entrepreneurial spirit that my great great grandfather had when he did everything he could to provide for his family. My ancestors were hard workers and they did the best they could.

Mixed Emotions

It’s a month of mixed emotions. So, during this Heritage month, may I say that if my family hurt your family, I am sorry. If my family helped your family, I am grateful. I pray for healing and unity in our country. Africa is my home. It is where my ancestors are buried. It is where my heart is.

Let’s Celebrate

If I can celebrate one thing this Heritage Day, I think it would be how much we have grown and healed. If each generation heals generational trauma and stops unhealthy cycles (even just one cycle) and learns how to become a little better then the generation before then I believe we are working towards a better world and a better South Africa. We should also celebrate the wisdom and good traditions of those that came before us, there are so many good things we can continue to pass on to the next generation.

Happy Heritage Month! Enjoy a good braai with your family and friends. Also, tell us your story in the comments below x

2 responses to “Heritage Day Thoughts”

  1. This is such a thought-provoking article. No matter where we come from or what our heritage is, we cannot continue to blame a certain race / generation of people for the troubles we all face today. As a white South African, I am never really considered to be an “african” because the picture of an african is always someone of a darker complexion. We get told to “go home” when in fact we are home. South Africa is my home, but I am judged as much by others as we tend to judge them. We need to find a way to break this terrible cycle – a cycle that continues not just in our country but worldwide.

    • Thank you for your comment Tanith! It’s a complicated subject. I think acknowledging and recognising the wrongs committed in the past goes a long way. Dismissing others’ pain is like committing the wrong again. Unfortunately, the effects of past generations choices still affect us today, so it’s also about finding a way to allow everyone the same opportunities, the same safety, the same happy and healthy life. I learn and understand things better every day. I know that if we can work together in love we can make this happen!

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