South Africa is an incredibly diverse country and often we fail to appreciate the beauty of the full rainbow when we are bogged down trying to look at the individual drops rather than the refracted light that they create and which shows us our diversity as a thing of beauty rather than a cause for division.

The SA History Website (www.sahistory.org.za) gives the following explanation of Heritage (all paragraphs in italics are from this website) :

A person's heritage is made up of the practices and traditions that are passed on from parents to children. Heritage is also about what has been passed on from the family, community and place where people have been raised. For example a person may have grown up in a family of medical professionals or in a proudly Zulu family where the old customs are still followed. This is part of their heritage. People also have a national heritage. A person who was born in South Africa has a South African heritage. This also means they have an African heritage because they were born on this continent.

 

Much of our National Heritage is born of our Music and Art. We have a sound that is purely South African, and which can be recognized after only a few bars anywhere in the world.   Marabi, Maskanda, Acapella, choral music and other forms of minstral style music brought us to isicathamiya and the very familiar sounds of the likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Our tranetrekkers and our Pennywhistle jive are distinctly South African, Soul and Jazz can be added to the mix together with Punk Rock, Disco and Rock. Alternative Rock has been strongly influenced by the Punk Ethic and helped to inspire Gothic Rock. Reggae and Bubblegum as well as ballads, New Rhythms and Gospel have followings as have the many different styles of folk music which can be linked to our many different cultural groups.

Alternative, Metal and Techno have all found a uniquely South African niche and since the millennium we have had Blues Rock, Kaito and Alternative Afrikaans. More recently there is an increase in experimentation with bands / groups from many diverse cultures trying out a mixture of their traditional music with more modern sounds and equipment. Hip-hop, House, Drum and Bass are influenced by our multi-cultural society and even Psychedelic trance has its South African version in Psytrance which is more rhythmic, melodic and danceable than the darker Russion version.

There are different types of heritage. A country’s natural heritage is its beautiful environment and natural resources like gold and water. Areas that are very special and where animals or plants are in danger of extinction like the St. Lucia Wetlands and uKhahlamba Drakensberg Parks in KwaZulu Natal are world heritage sites. They are respected and protected against harm.

South Africa can offer something to match any Natural site anywhere else in the world, our Mountain Ranges are spectacular, our beaches are world class and we have every type of landscape possible between these two.  Of the World’s Six Floral Kingdom’s the smallest is found only in South Africa. The Cape Floral Kingdom is home to nearly 20% of Africa’s flora but forms only 0.5% of the Continent and is made up of approximately 70% endemic species.

Cultural heritage is formed by those things or expressions that show the creativity of people. These can be special monuments, like a building, sculpture, painting, a cave dwelling or anything important because of its history, artistic or scientific value. The styles of buildings can also be part of our cultural heritage because of their architecture, where they are built or what they were used for. Robben Island, The Cradle of Humankind at the caves of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Kromdraai in Gauteng, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and the ancient city of Mapungubwe in Limpopo are all examples of South Africans cultural heritage.

Of the1052 Unesco World Heritage Sites (as at September 2016), eight are South African. Four of these are Cultural, three are natural and one is a mixed cultural and natural site.

On a much smaller scale, Kokstad and its surrounding area also offer a wide selection of very special sites. There are rich examples of outstanding Rock Art in the area, our ecology is unique and we still have buildings and artifacts dating from the 1800’s when the town was founded by Adam Kok III and the Griqua’s.

Kokstad is home to the people of 10 different cultures – a true reflection of our Rainbow Nation. We have Griqua, English (or British), Afrikaner, AmaXhosa, Bhaca, Xesibe, AmaPondo, Basotho, Indian and Chinese living in our corner of what is generally a Zulu Province. We stand, if you will, as a Cultural Crossroads in the South western corner of KwaZulu-Natal, where South Africans of predominantly Zulu, English, Xhosa, Afrikaans and Sotho speaking origins, mingle and interact - we are a true reflection of our marvellous rainbow-hued heritage and proudly South African.

The Kokstad Chamber of Commerce wishes all our neighbours and fellow Kokstad residents and South Africans as well as our visitors, a very happy Heritage Day. We hope that Heritage Day 2016 and our Heritage month of September, have been a special reminder of our combined South African Heritage and the part that each different culture has to play in that.