This morning I dressed Carter in the cutest little Australian onesie – sent as a gift from a friend Michelle who lives Down Under. When my hubby arrived at creche this morning the teacher asked if Carter had an Australian heritage. He only realised why she asked this after looking around the school – it was a Heritage Day dress up and all of the kids were wearing outfits representative of their history and culture. To be fair, my 18 month old niece dressed up as an (admittedly adorable) ladybug, and my nephew as a fireman, so creative licence was running wild.
We’re celebrating at the office a little bit later today – and everyone has been asked to wear an outfit reflecting their heritage. I always get so uncomfortable when this time of year rolls round. What do I put on that speaks to my heritage? I’m a quarter German, named after an Irish pub, have Jewish family and was born in Sandton. Can I just give my son a Yarmulke, eat a bratwurst while downing a Guinness in high heels and call it a day?
The people in my office have made such an incredible effort. The Xhosa girls are draped in multicoloured beads with face art and the Venda ladies are colour blocked from head to toe. A Zulu lady is wearing her traditional outfit and a few of my Indian work mates are in Sari’s. A Portugese lady has gone all out with her dress (except the white socks, that’s apparently where she drew the line) and another girl is proudly sporting her Dutch Cloggs and milkmaid hat.
I mentioned to a colleague how much I adored her outfit and how I wished I was allowed to wear something like it. “You’re South African, Kate of of course you can wear it!” was her reply. And she’s right. The thing we all love about our country is the fact that we are all diverse, and unique. No-one is the same, yet we all belong.
So, whether you are celebrating in traditional garb, with a boerie roll round the braai, or in a Shwe Shwe skirt – make this Heritage Day your own. After all, it’s what us S’Africans to best, right?
And next year, I promise to dress up, paint my face and represent the many cultures of Kate.
Until then, feast your eyes on some of the eclectic people I am lucky enough to work with every single day.
You’ve got a real challenge ahead for next year, better start planning now.