Heritage Day | Western Cape Government

Heritage Day

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Heritage Day is celebrated on 24 September each year.  It's a day that encourages South Africans to celebrate their culture, beliefs and traditions.

What is heritage?

Heritage is the shared characteristics, traditions, practices, and beliefs that a family, community, or social group passes down from one generation to the next. Our heritage can include our natural resources, as well as our culture.

Natural heritage is our natural environment, such as mountains, rivers, protected areas and the animals that inhabit those areas. These areas, like the Cape Floral Kingdom, are unique and enjoy special recognition and protection internationally.

Cultural heritage is the creative and scientific values and innovations that shape us as a society. Poetry, art, film, as well as the rock paintings in the Cederberg, form part of our cultural heritage.

Even though heritage can vary from person to person, depending on our language, culture, and even the city we grew up in, we all share a common national identity as South Africans.

Visit a museum this Heritage Day

The Western Cape has the largest concentration of museums on the African continent. Museums collect, preserve, interpret, and display objects of artistic, cultural, or scientific significance to educate the public.

Visiting a museum allows you to learn about your province’s political and social history, our natural history, as well as an opportunity to marvel at the achievements of our fellow citizens.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport manages 29 museums in the Western Cape which displays exhibitions that celebrate South African history.

Due to COVID-19, not all museums are open to the public, but a few have reopened to the public, these include:

  • The Caledon Museum,
  • the Huguenot Memorial Museum (Franschhoek),
  • the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum,
  • the Shipwreck Museum (Bredasdorp),
  • the Stellenbosch Museum,
  • the CP Nel Museum (Oudtshoorn),
  • the George Museum,
  • the Great Brak River Museum,
  • and the SA Sendinggestig Museum (Cape Town).

Visit a museum from the comfort of your home

If you’re still unsure about going to public spaces, you can attend online tours from the comfort of your own home.

Iziko Museums of South Africa, which operates 11 national museums in Cape Town, offers free online tours of certain exhibitions.

In celebration of Heritage Day, Iziko Museums will host a series of online events this week, 21 September to 27 September, as part of their in_herit FESTIVAL 2020. The program will include discussions, workshops and performances that you can enjoy at home. 

Iziko museums house natural history, social history and art collections in magnificent, historic buildings which in themselves are national treasures.

On Thursday, 17 September 2020, the Iziko South African Museum, the Iziko South African National Gallery, the Iziko Slave Lodge and the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum have reopened to the public, and are running under new operating hours.

Visit the Provincial Archives

The Western Cape Archives and Records Service collects, manages and preserves records that form part of our archival heritage. These records are preserved for use by the government and people of South Africa.

The Provincial Archives, which is now open to the public, allows you to read documents dating back to the 17th century. The Provincial Archives will allow you to explore your family history, and perhaps give you a new perspective of South Africa.

Indigenous GamesLearn to play an indigenous game this Heritage Day

Indigenous games are part of our heritage, and we must keep the games alive. The indigenous games of South African are as diverse as the people that live here. Games such as dibeke (a running ball game), diketo (a coordination game), and all the other indigenous games play an important role in our identity, culture, and heritage.

When we master one of these games, we can teach it to somebody else and make sure that these sports and games don't become extinct.  This Heritage Day, take time to learn how to play one of these games and discover something of the past that we can take into the future. Have a look at the indigenous games general and code specific rules to get started.


VIDEO: We asked the question, what is your heritage?

The content on this page was last updated on 21 September 2020