What is Heritage Day? eh? you may as well just have a Braai!

I love a good braai. I love the word #braai.
To me is sums up all that is good in South Africa.

There is a strange school of thought thought that South Africans have regarding the outdoor BBQ.

Whilst I appreciate that is is something that people have done here for a while, why is it that South African people feel that they own the idea of cooking with a fire.

Is this something that was invented in 1652. How did people cook elsewhere? Was there just raw meat and uncooked vegetables being consumed worldwide before?

Im taking the piss here a little. But in a few days time. It will be Heritage Day here in South AFrica.
There has been a gentleman by the name of Jan Scannell (on twitter as @Janbraai) who for the past few years has been declaring that it is time for South Africa to enjoy the day as “National Braai Day” Something akin to how the Irish celebrate their culture with St Patricks Day.

I was chatting with him the other day about the event. A part of me was wondering….firstly.
WTF is Heritage Day anyway. Was there anything slightly sacrilegious about declaring a public holiday as “National Braai Day”

I actually had to check the internet to find out what Heritage Day actually was. It seems as if there are literally dozens of public holidays in South Africa. Often these days mark either a particularly sad of important chapter of our countries history.

Turns out, Heritage Day isn’t one of them..
We are not dishonouring the lives of those lost in the struggle. We are not pissing off folks on some Holy Day.

Seriously. We may as well bloody Braai on Heritage Day.

I got this from the Government’s website..

24 September [Heritage Day]

“The day is one of our newly created public holidays and its significance rests in recognising aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and difficult to pin down: creative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live.

“Within a broader social and political context, the day’s events…are a powerful agent for promulgating a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict.

“Heritage has defined as “that which we inherit: the sum total of wild life and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections together with their documentation.”

(Statement issued by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, 17 September 1996)

In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, (former) President Mandela stated:

“When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.

We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy.”

Right then….
So to summarise… Braai away, cook whatever suits you.
I can understand that some folks got all angry with the whole…”meat is murder” kind of shit.
Nobody said you need to go out and slaughter a bloody cow. Veggies work quite well on an open fire.

I used to love having braai’s in the UK. Sadly the kind of fire that I would cook with there would normally be on a tiny little tin foil portable braai. Utter utter shite. Heat for about ten minutes then burned out and nothing to cook on. On my buddy’s stag weekend, a bunch of my mates (nearly all South African guys) went up into the Welsh Mountains. We took those tinfoil braai’s along.
We managed to get a few minutes cooking out of them and had to quit. There was drinking to do and they were out of heat.

Whilst South African’s do get rather carried away with their ability to cook outdoors, it does make me think of folks in other countries. Im using steretypes here. I have never been to Australia, but when anyone is tasked with saying a little phrase or two that sounds like it could be Australian, they normally say something stupid like
“Throw another shrimp on the Barbie” Apparently it comes from a bunch of commercials Paul Hogan did for the Australian Toursim Board back in the day. Im pretty sure that the Aussies can braai just as well as we can here in SA. It isnt like they do not have sheep or wood there.

But if you have ever watched television. (wait…are you saying you have? amazing!) whenever you see American families cooking outdoors…its the same old shit. A bloody hotdog and a burger patty? Are there no cows or beasts suitable for grilling there? how did they all get so fat? An American Braai looks like utter shit.

When I was living in the UK, the amount of times one of my British friends would ruin a braai was countless.
They are the kind of folks who would show up to the braai with a packet of frozen Linda McCartney vegan sausages and expect me to work wonders with them. I have no issue with cooking for my veggie friends, but it was a nightmare.

Seperate tongs, seperate grills, and how the eff do you cook a frozen soya sausage. Or failing that. The meat eaters would turn up with some poxy burger patty and wonder why it would turn out like shit.

A true braai is an impromtu event. No planning required. You simply require fire and friends.
I have done it before without either. granted it was a shit braai and I cried. but it has been attempted.

I believe you need good Namibian wood. Considering its a country known for its desert, and not its forests, I wonder about the sustainability of that statement. But for now, im sticking with it. I went to the Fish River Canyon a few years back. I forgot the braai lighters. A simple yet necessary tool for starting a fire. I improvised with a toilet roll and some petrol. That shit was fired up in minutes. If you have ever tried to start a fire with prehistoric hardwood and a box of matches, you will know how hard it is. There was a queue of German’s, French and Swedish tourists and other foreign folks who slowly came round to my campsite to “buy” some coals. Their European way’s had left them unable to make fire.

I felt like a man. I felt like Bear Grylls but without having to drink piss or eat a frogs arsehole.

Speaking of arseholes. Braai’s can attract them like flies. There seems to be a code to outdoor cooking.
It does seem to breed a strange sort of misogynistic type of manliness. Men Braai. Women make salads.
It harks back to the old days of South Africa. Well times have changed. I have been to many a hipster braai of late.
I will happily eat salads made by a man, and meat cooked by the ladies.
As long as those ladies are either from Zimbabwe or South Africa.

If you are Swedish or from the UK, I am sorry. But im going to have to insist that you sit down, enjoy the hospitality….
but leave the braai alone. It is not in your nature, your culture, or your skillset. To show you that I am not being misogynistic. That statement applies to foreign folks of all sexes.

For some strange reason. South African’ do actulally have the best braai’s in teh world.
It is the one word that covers all languages and cultures in this country.

This is my new Braai.
It has been adopeted by my missus and I. It will be delivered today. We are as excited as if we were adopting a puppy.
It is a happy time. Enjoy Heritage Day.

Considering that my house was owned by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu (this is no lie) and that he is/was the patron of Braai Day. We are going to have a kick ass braai this Saturday.

Do you want to come? just bring a dop’ and a chop and we will be sorted.

Much Love

It is the big one....

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