Heritage is deeper than the colour of your skin

By Lauren Pillay

As Heritage day is around the corner, many people flood your timelines with pictures and videos of traditional clothing and rituals that fall under a certain culture.

Heritage is defined as – valued objects and qualities such as historic buildings and cultural traditions that have been passed down from previous generations.

In my South Africa, I’ve seen a brewing of cultures over the years, as individuals marry or have relationships cross-culturally. Being a result of a cross-cultured family, it’s always been a challenge to determine where I fit in.

As a mixture of blue and yellow make green, what culture do us mixed folk follow?  Many times I’ve heard the older generations saying “whatever your father is, that’s what you are.” But in my household that’s not the case.

Our culture is not necessarily our race(as most of us can be considered mixed babies, whether Xhosa and Sotho type mixed or Coloured  and Indian type mixed). Our cultures are those long-standing traditions our families have kept throughout the generations.

Personally, in my home we don’t have traditional clothing or traditional ceremonies that are linked to an aged old family story.

My families culture revolves around our dining room table, having conversations in the midst of really good food. Our culture is the way we celebrate birthdays, with cake and tea. Our culture is how without fail we have to watch the Man United match when it’s on. Our culture is how the women (and sometimes the men) make a large feast on Christmas. Our culture combines those things our grandparents have taught our parents to uphold.

My culture is how my mother has raised me to be a young woman, my culture is the lingo we use as a family that include words like “Maggie” or “B.H” which stands for a Bad Heart. Sharing these things make me smile, because the truth of the matter is, our cultures have evolved.

We will never lose those long-standing traditions, but as time passes we create new ones, new traditions that will be passed down to the next generations. Our culture and heritage are those routines that make our families unique.

When I sit around the table at my cousins 21stbirthday on Heritage day, I will be celebrating my heritage and my culture. The unique aspects of my family and how we do things is what I consider my heritage.

So as heritage day enters your household, make sure to embrace those cultural traditions or passed down beliefs that you have come to see as heritage. Embrace the stories of old you may have forgotten and pass them down to the generations to come.

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