We’ll solve the rid­dle that is Braai Day

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

IT HAS no top or bot­tom, but it can hold flesh, bones and blood all at the same time. What is it? A ring.

This is one of the many rid­dles that the Barends fam­ily would tell around the fire­place in my grand­mother’s kitchen, while de­vour­ing her home-made veg­etable soup and bread, fresh out of the oven.

Although I never mas­tered any of her recipes, I did in­herit her love for telling sto­ries – and her wed­ding ring. Ouma gave it to me one Sun­day morn­ing be­fore church, when she broke the news that her can­cer had re­turned. Tears streamed down my cheeks at the thought of los­ing one of the most dy­namic women I’d ever known and loved. But, the then-90-year-old would not have it. She gave me a firm tap on the arm and an even firmer “Moe­nie vir jou laf hou nie!” (“Don’t be silly!”)

Ouma was one of Stel­len­bosch’s first coloured so­cial work­ers.

These days, I find my­self touch­ing, some­times clench­ing, her wed­ding ring when­ever I’m faced with some­thing dif­fi­cult.

I re­mem­ber her strength, re­solve, wit and hu­mour, and that her blood runs through my veins. I felt a sim­i­lar con­nec­tion to Kro­toa, af­ter watch­ing award-win­ning South African ac­tress Crys­tal-Donna Roberts’ por­trayal of the Khoi slave who served as Jan van Riebeeck’s trans­la­tor.

Na­tives were stripped of their land, names, cul­ture and tra­di­tions. We were taught to de­spise the click in our tongue and the kink in our hair, to as­sim­i­late “civil­i­sa­tion” and part from our “sav­age” ways.

This is why Braai Day will never cut it for me.

It is too straight­for­ward, seek­ing to unite us by en­cour­ag­ing us to cel­e­brate our dif­fer­ent back­grounds in the same way. How does throw­ing meat on the coals en­cour­age na­tion-build­ing?

Her­itage Day re­placed Shaka Day, to cre­ate a day for all South Africans to cel­e­brate their her­itage.

It could be a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for South Africans to learn about their her­itage. Only then can we share sto­ries and truly con­nect. We need to be hon­est about the past and its de­grees of priv­i­lege and pain. Our his­tory and her­itage is both painful and beau­ti­ful. We are united, but we are also di­verse – and this does not have to di­vide us.

Whether you’re braaing or not, how and who will you be re­mem­ber­ing, com­mem­o­rat­ing and cel­e­brat­ing this Her­itage Day? I’ll be rock­ing my grand­mother’s wed­ding ring. Per­haps to­gether we’ll solve the rid­dle that is Braai Day.

Sher­lin Barends is a ra­dio pre­sen­ter on Kfm Morn­ings, a fem­i­nist, a writer and a mas­ter of cer­e­monies with a BA Hon­ours (Jour­nal­ism) from Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.