Coming Together to Celebrate a New Future

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On the 16th of December we observe the coming together of two of South Africa’s major historical events to celebrate a new, reconciled nation. 

Coming into effect after the 1994 democratic elections, on the 16th of December 1995, The Day of Reconciliation plays a very significant part in South Africa’s history. Tasked with promoting reconciliation and national unity, the new, non-racial democratic government pulled together two historical events from opposing sides to form a public holiday that represented a promise of a  shared future together, regardless of race.

Before the rise of a united South Africa, the 16th of December was celebrated by most Afrikaners as “Day of the Vow”. On this day, in 1838, the Voortrekkers took on the Zulu nation in a fight for land. With the aid of gunpowder, the 470 Voortrekkers faced an army of over 10 000 Zulus and emerged victorious, thus vowing to commemorate the day for generations to come.

In 1961, however, Umkhonto we Sizwe was formed. The “Spear of the Nation”, as it is translated, was known as the military wing of the African National Congress, and was launched to fight the Apartheid government through aggressive resistance. This was decided after the Sharpville Massacre in 1960 in which several peaceful protestors were indiscriminately shot at by police.

This year, the cabinet encourages all South Africans to honour the day as we promote reconciliation, peace and social cohesion, especially in the turmoil the country is facing at the moment. The theme, “Bridging the divide: Building a common South African nationhood towards a national developmental state” will be celebrated in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape this year.

The rainbow has come to be the symbol of our nation. At Soviet, we aim to turn the differences of our languages, cultures and histories, into a source of strength and richness.

We wish you a happy, united Day of Reconciliation.