It’s a great day in South Africa. And the video below, inspired by none other than Shakira, is testimony to a country that is alive with purpose. But before you scroll down to the video (and all its fun), take two minutes to read about the importance of this day, December 16, in South African history.
The history of the Day of Reconciliation, celebrated as a national holiday in South Africa today, dates back to 1838, when the “Voortrekkers” (descendants of the original Dutch settlers) clashed with the Zulu nation as they moved deeper into the interior of South Africa in a bid to expand their territory and evade British authority.
On December 16, 470 Voortrekkers, who had the advantage of gun power, killed 3000 Zulus at the “Battle of Blood River.” Subsequently, the day became known to Afrikaners as “The Day of the Vow” and was officially declared a national holiday across South Africa in 1911.
Fast forward to the 20th Century and, on December 16 in 1961, the military arm of the African National Congress, uMkhonto we Sizwe, announced its existence by launching its first acts of sabotage against the apartheid government. Although 1961 is significant, for opponents of apartheid, December 16 had been used as a day of resistance from as early as the 1920s.
In 1995, one year after Nelson Mandela led South Africa to free and fair elections, the new South African government surprised everyone by declaring that 16 December would remain a national holiday, but would be renamed as the “Day of Reconciliation.”
Today, we are reminded of the violence of blood river and the hardships of the struggle movement, but the day has adopted a new meaning: it is our pledge to continue to work towards overcoming the struggles of the past.
As with any country, building a better future is not easy, nor should it be. We are ever grateful though for the opportunity to be South Africans who are sharing a journey towards more unity, more humanity and more community.
There is only one way to celebrate this day! Our partners from the nonprofit organisation, Good Work Foundation, are one of the brightest examples of a new South Africa that we know. They don’t celebrate reconciliation once a year; they live it every day and have made it their mission to work for a better South Africa, one where everyone has opportunity, no matter where they are born.
In their signature light-hearted, pink and vibrant way, to exalt the beginning of the holiday season, as well as the Day of Reconciliation, here is Good Work Foundation’s rendition of “It’s Time for Africa.”
This Christmas, if you would like to make a donation to the Good Work Foundation, proceeds will all be allocated to the organisation’s ‘Open Learning’ movement, which will extend digital learning to more than 3000 rural children in 2016. Click here to make a donation, or, if you are a US citizen and would like a 501 c 3 receipt, click here.