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Eric: Welcome back to AfrikaansPod101.com. This is All About Lesson 9, Top 5 Important Dates During the South African Calendar Year.
Pieter: My naam is Pieter.
Eric: There is a big bonus to making South Africa your adopted culture and that is that you get some great holidays!
Pieter: Yes, there are some exciting celebrations in South Africa.
Eric: And now you can adopt them as your own! So in this lesson, we’re going to learn about five holidays that are near and dear to the hearts of South African people.
Pieter: I think the first and by far one of the most important holidays in South Africa is Vryheidsdag, “Freedom Day.” Freedom Day is on April 27th and the whole country celebrates.
Eric: It’s a very important day.
Pieter: Yes, and that’s because of the history surrounding this day.
Eric: On April 27th,1994, the first ever democratic elections were held in South Africa, in which people of all races were allowed to vote.
Pieter: And Nelson Mandela, Madiba, was elected by a huge majority.
Eric: South Africans take Freedom Day very seriously, and celebrate their freedoms and the beginnings of the new South African Republic. But Pieter, you still get the day off when the real elections are held, right?
Pieter: Of course! General elections in South Africa are always a national holiday, so that everybody can come out and vote. It’s nice to take a day off to think about how important our participation is, and how fortunate we are to live in a democracy.
Eric: I believe these things are very important in South Africa, seeing as it’s only been 20 years or so since the end of the old regime. And South Africa also got a whole new flag on this day, right?
Pieter: Yes, around then is when our beautiful-six colored national flag started being used too.
Eric: So what is South Africa’s national color?
Pieter: That’s a difficult question. I guess really all of them are important! We’re the rainbow nation after all.
Eric: I’ve seen lots of people with it painted over their faces at the World Cup and other sports matches!
Pieter: Yeah, it’s great, but it’s not just people’s faces, we paint everything in those colors! Around the time of the soccer World Cup in 2010, I even saw whole houses painted in the national colors. We are very proud of our unique flag!
Eric: So why those six colors? Do they mean anything?
Pieter: The flag was designed to merge the traditional European colours of red, white, and blue with the African black, green, and yellow to show all South Africans coming together and moving forward as one nation.
Eric: That’s cool! So what's the next topic- more colorful holidays?
Pieter: The holidays in South Africa can be a lot of fun, but some of the most important ones have quite a serious history behind them! The next big day is “Youth Day” on June 16th.
Eric: What happened then?
Pieter: Well, on June 16th, 1976, the Soweto uprisings started to protest the old regime trying to force everyone to speak Afrikaans at schools.
Eric: Why did they do that?
Pieter: The old regime wanted everybody to speak one language, but people wanted to be able to study in their home languages too, like they can today.
Eric: So why were the Soweto uprisings so important?
Pieter: Many people see them as a real turning point for the Apartheid regime. Images of unrest and police brutality went all the way around the world, and put the nationalist regime under a lot of pressure to change. People really resented Afrikaans in South Africa.
Eric: That’s very interesting, but does Afrikaans still have a bad reputation in South Africa today?
Pieter: Well, some people still hold a grudge, but Nelson Mandela knew that the only way to achieve peace in South Africa after apartheid was to recognize all languages and all cultures equally. That’s why we have 11 different official languages!
Eric: Wait…so anyone has the right to learn in any language they like now?
Pieter: Yeah, as long as it’s one of the official 11. Obviously, not everybody in South Africa speaks 11 languages! The main language of communication is English, but most people speak Zulu, then Xhosa, and then Afrikaans.
Eric: South Africa is such a multilingual place. Are there any other languages spoken apart from the 11?
Pieter: Of course! There are plenty of languages spoken by South Africa’s different immigrant communities, and South Africa’s national motto is not in one of our official languages. ǃke e: ǀxarra ǁke
Eric: What? What language is that?
Pieter: that’s IXam. It’s extinct nowadays, but it was one of the languages of the indigenous Khoisan people of South Africa.
Eric: And what does it mean?
Pieter: “Diverse people unite.” But like I said, nobody speaks this language any more apart from old professors in universities.
Eric: I see. So what other holidays do you have?
Pieter: One of my favorite holidays is the Tweede Nuwe Jaar in Cape Town.
Eric: Oh I heard about this. It’s like the second New Year’s Day isn’t it? What exactly happens here?
Pieter: Well, I have to say it's a pretty noisy one. In the old days, before slavery was abolished in the Cape, the slaves would only get the 2nd of January off, not the 1st, so that’s when their descendents or the Cape Coloureds, traditionally celebrate New Year.
Eric: 'Coloured' is a non-racist term in South Africa for a specific ethnic group, and “Cape Coloured” is the name of one such community. On New Year’s day, is there a lot of food involved?
Pieter: There sure is! But the biggest thing that happens is a huge colorful parade down through the center of Cape Town.
Eric: So what kinds of things can you see at the parade?
Pieter: The most famous thing is the Cape Minstrels, or Kaapse Klopse. These guys dress up in bright clothes and play music and sing songs as they parade through the city.
Eric: What kind of songs do they sing?
Pieter: Well some of them are actually quite old and date way back to the first celebrations in the 1800s.
Eric: You said this all happens on the 2nd of January, right? Is that still a national holiday?
Pieter: Unfortunately not. We only get January 1st off in South Africa.
Eric: So what happens on New Year’s Eve itself?
Pieter: We’re at work earning our day off the next day! But in Cape Town, there’s usually a big fireworks display over the harbor and everybody’s out with family and friends. Remember, January is in the middle of summer in South Africa, so it’s quite pleasant to be outside. The next day, you can do what you like. Maybe you’ll have a meal with your family, or spend the day recovering on the beach.
Eric: Wow, that must be lovely.
Pieter: Yes, it definitely is!
Eric: How about other holidays?
Pieter: Well of course there’s Christmas, which is December 25th. And on December 26th, we have the day of goodwill. In South Africa we get a day off on both the 25th and 26th.
Eric: That’s very convenient because you can visit your parents one day and your partner’s parents the other day.
Pieter: For meals, instead of Christmas pudding, you might have Malva Pudding, or as we call it in Afrikaans, Lekker poeding.
Eric: So we had Freedom Day, Youth Day, two New Year’s Days, and Christmas so far. What’s the fifth holiday?
Pieter: Versoeningsdag, “Reconciliation Day,” on December 16th.
Eric: Does this celebrate the end of Apartheid too?
Pieter: Not exactly, it’s more about bringing different people together. It’s an important day for both Afrikaner and African culture, as it’s both the day on which the Voortrekkers defeated the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838, and the day in 1961 that the armed wing of the African National Congress was formed.
Eric: But Reconciliation Day isn’t about war now is it?
Pieter: No, not at all. It’s designed to foster national unity, but it also marks the beginning of the 16 day holiday period over Christmas and New Year, which is when lots of people start their annual holidays.
Eric: So it’s a very important day then.
Pieter: It is! And there are many more of course. That was just a sample of all the different holidays and festivals that South Africa has in store for you.
Eric: Okay, that’s it for this lesson.
Pieter: Thanks for listening!
Eric: And we’ll see you next time.
Pieter: Totsiens!