South African Students Celebrate Heritage Day

Students who missed out on the performance of the Zulu dance during the first Heritage Day held last year are lucky this time.

On September 23, all South African students, their Nigerian friends and other international students, gathered at the library auditorium to celebrate the day.

Nigerian students Ummi Mukhtar and Keren Makanto were very excited to learn some new dance steps of the Zulu people, as they celebrated the Heritage Day with their South African friends.  This has added to their AUN college experience as they have come to understand how celebrating ethnicity in a proud way is very dear to the South Africans.

“We do dance a lot in our culture and we do have a lot of fun when we are doing it,” said Luyanda Khanyile, an ICP major from the Rainbow Nation.  “Celebrating this day here at AUN was amazing because nobody thinks you can celebrate such a day in a foreign land and have Nigerians come and participate and actually enjoy what we are offering.”

Keynote speaker, Sello Jeremiah Mafokoane, played music to which all the South African students danced for about five minutes before he started to deliver his address.  Mr. Mafokoane is the president of AUN’s International Students Association.

“Today, we are celebrating our liberation struggle.  I think those who understand the concept of the African National Congress (ANC) understand that music was always at the core in the fight against Apartheid in our country.

Heritage Day is celebrated on September 24.  In the past, the day was known as Shaka Day, to honor Shaka, a renowned king of the Zulu.  After South African independence, it became recognized as one of the public holidays to celebrate South African culture and the diversity of their traditions and beliefs.  Besides celebrating the past, it now also celebrates contributions of all South Africans to their country.

The celebration was an enlightening day for members of the University community who attended; many were surprised to learn that the South Africans have 11 official languages and 10 ethnic groups.

This year’s theme is: “The year of Oliver Tambo: Celebrating Our Liberation Heritage.”  Tambo was a South African anti-apartheid politician born in 1917.  A revolutionist, he presided over the ANC from 1967 to 1991.

In his address, Mafokoane recognized the role played by Tambo in the fight for the country’s freedom.  He held that the Day should not just be a celebration of South Africa’s heritage, but a way to draw strength and inspiration as well.  “We are the chosen generation with a different mission.  

By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa

American University of Nigeria
98 Lamido Zubairu Way
Yola Township bypass
PMB 2250, Yola
Adamawa State, Nigeria

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