We hope you enjoyed your day off yesterday! If you didn't give the reason behind the public holiday a second thought, here is a little snapshot of why we celebrate the 16th of December.
The 16th of December has always been a significant day on both the Afrikaner and ANC calendar. For the Afrikaners, it was known as the Day of the Vow - the day that in 1838 the Voortrekkers beat the Zulu warriors at the Battle of the Blood River allowing them to settle in Natal. For members of the ANC, the 16th of December was the day that its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (meaning Spear of the Nation) was formed. The actions of this group played a vital role in ending Apartheid in 1994.
By far, the most significant aspect of this day, is that it is now celebrated as a day of peace rather than a day of violence. This clever re-branding is one of the many Christmas gifts that our Father of the Nation, Nelson Mandela, left us. He strategically merged two hostile groups and their history by creating a day of rest for all us South Africans to remember that we are now one nation of many peoples.
Probably the best way to remember Tata Madiba would be to keep this tradition alive and make this day and the festive season that follows one of forgiveness and unity... in our homes, neighbourhoods and during those tricky lunches with our extended, crazy, colourful families.