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Holiday Themes:December 16 – Day of Reconciliation (South Africa) Presented to the BFSA APL Caucus Robert Holder December 20, 2007
Current Practice • The Day of Reconciliation is a public holiday in South Africa held annually on 16 December. • The intention is to foster reconciliation between different racial groups. • Celebration of cultural diversity and national unity • The holiday came into effect in 1994 after the end of Apartheid.
History • Before 1994, 16 December was commemorated as the Day of the Vow, also known as Day of the Covenant or Dingaan Day. • The Day of the Vow was a religious holiday commemorating the Afrikaner victory over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838.
Battle of Blood River, 1838 • In response to Zulu chief Dingaan killing an Afrikaner Piet Retief after treaty negotiations • 464 Afrikaners with the help of 200 helpers defeated 10,000 (or 20,000) Zulus • The Afrikaners made a vow with God that if victorious, they would make the day a Sabbath
Subsequent Reaction • Some saw the victory as God’s sanctioning of white rule in South Africa • Celebrations of this holiday contributed to the rift between the Afrikaners and the Zulu • On this day in 1961, the African National Congress’ military arm first attacked the Apartheid government, and would celebrate this day as the anniversary of the founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe
Reconciliation • After Apartheid’s ending in 1994, December 16 was changed to the Day of Reconciliation
Recent observances • At the 16 December 1998 inauguration the new monument…. • Zulu politician and then Minister of Home Affairs, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, again apologized to the Afrikaner nation for the death of Piet Retief and the subsequent suffering. • Buthelezi also noted the suffering of the Zulu under the Afrikaner rule during apartheid. He stressed that South Africans needed to consider the day as "a new covenant which binds us to the shared commitment of building a new country.”
References • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Trek • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weenen • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_Blood_River • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Vow • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_Reconciliation • http://www.worldeventsguide.com/event.ehtml?o=2749 • http://www.south-africa-tours-and-travel.com/battle-of-blood-river.html