Heritage Day, celebrated annually on 24 September in South Africa, has become synonymous with adorning of traditional attires to showcase the diverse cultures in the motherland. Some "braai", cook traditional food and enjoy traditional music. But, is that all there is to our heritage celebrations or commemoration? I don’t think so.
If you look up the word “heritage” in the dictionary, it is described as a “birthright”, an "inheritance" and a "legacy". Now, the question is, besides the clothing, food and music or whatever other practices are observed during this day, what is really your heritage? I’m talking about your foundational heritage. The one found in the book of life.
Well, most of the cultural things we inherited from our forefathers, we’ve adapted to suit our modern lifestyles. One that I am most passionate about is the elimination of gender stereotyping. We are taking strides against patriarchy and injustices against women and girl children. Women no longer sit at home waiting for men to provide but instead are out there making moves. The culture of “bekezela”, loosely translated to “persevere” when women find themselves in toxic, unhealthy relationships, marriages or environments is archaic. We have drastically moved past the days of skin lightening and using of relaxers and hot irons to straighten our hair. Women and young girls have started to embrace their darker skin colour; their natural curls and coils. Men have become professional and in-house chefs. Heck, we even have gigolos doing the most in their industry. The feminist narrative was spearheaded by women but more men have come on board with some even leading the topic in their circles. With stay-at-home dads and a seemingly increasing trend of present fathers, I’m hopeful that the days of absent fatherhood will soon be a distant memory.
A lot has changed. But what remains the same is our foundational heritage. In Genesis 1, we read that God made both man and woman in His image. Get it?! Not the one in another’s image. This means that God sees all of us humans as equals, no matter our gender or societal standing. He gave us control and power over all creation and not over each other. We are made for stewardship. Oppression is not our cup!
Following on this knowledge, Ephesians 1 & 2 detail exactly what God says about us. Knowing that we have been chosen, we are loved, set free and forgiven, sets us apart from this world and how society defines us. Irrespective of our iniquities, God’s love for us remain unchanged. He continues to extend His grace even when we are undeserving. You and I have been created for a life of good deeds which He has already prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Our identity is centered around Him. So this heritage day, as we continue to do what we need to in this world, whatever that is, it should not be rooted in our doings; but rather in our being.