South Africa: Let Our Beautiful Heritage Unite and Not Divide Us

opinion

When you look at me, what do you see? When you listen to me, what do you hear?

We all have our prejudices and preconceived notions of those who do not look or sound like us and it becomes particularly glaring for me in the week when we, as South Africans, celebrate Heritage Day.

Heritage is important. It tells the story of where we come from and it should be able to help us navigate our way to where we want to be.

But, in our attempt to identify our heritage, we often end up focusing on the things that make us different as opposed to the things we have in common.

Our heritage is inextricably linked to our culture and identity. It could lay the framework for liberation, but it could also lead to stigmatisation and prejudice because of the narrow definitions attached to the three: heritage, identity and culture.

Identity should be about what makes you unique, but quite often identity is used to put people into boxes which are associated, in a limited manner, with certain cultural and other behaviours.

For instance, when people look at me, they might see a man who is of a certain...

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