We had post Heritage Day celebrations in our office today. Our HR department arranged for some traditional food for everyone to enjoy. It was a nice selection of what one could call South African food. Bobotie, Pap, Tripe and samp were some of the delights.
As an added extra we were treated to a traditional dance display by a “professional” troupe. Three young men and five even younger girls dressed in traditional wear danced and whistled to give us a taste of Venda heritage. The dances are interesting and the dancers clearly fit and coordinated. Despite seeing similar things a lot previously I enjoyed seeing these young people do their thing.
What struck me though was the entire scenario: Us, working in corporate Johannesburg, in a very affluent area, watching these performers in traditional dress dancing in the traditional way in our offices. It’s a loud and clearly visceral affair. The troupe were dressed in animal skins and accompanied by a drum and the dancing involves a lot of foot stamping and clapping of hands and ululating. It’s great but not what you would associate with the modern world. And yet, there they were. Amongst us professionals, in our expensive traditional ware (because we had to dress up for lunch) in the richest mile in Africa.
And so South Africa’s Heritage Day manifested itself and I know that my lamenting about us “only” being South African is something I will not live to see. Tradition and culture and heritage are impossibly important and what ultimately makes us a rainbow nation.