To whom it may concern: Wednesday December 16 is officially known as the Day of Reconciliation in South Africa. It happens every year in our country, and has been the case since the iconic year of 1994.
I, however, have a confession to make: I don’t know of anyone who celebrates the “reconciliation” in Reconciliation Day, at least not for what I think it was intended by those well-meaning custodians of our democracy. Come to think of it, not many people even remember why December 16 is a public holiday.
I see people getting up on the morning of this day, bringing out their garden umbrellas, braai sets, cooler boxes and sprawling themselves on their lawns just for the fun of it, year in and year out.
I also see others donning their swimming gear, jumping into their pools (the lucky ones) and only coming out of the cooling water to get an equally cooling drink. This is the life!
It’s even more of a party ko kasi (in the townships). Everything is bought in bulk in anticipation of the big occasion that is December 16: metre-long wors ( I am so not exaggerating); steak portions that blanket the other food on the plate, pap cooked in huge pots “cause you never know who else might show up”—and do not even get me started on the booze! There’s enough of that to ... well, there’s more than enough.
Sadly, though, the day also has its fair share of violence too, and I’m sure the South African Police Service (Saps) can back me up on this one. Proof of this is in cops doing more frequent patrols than usual, oh, and of course the amount of alcohol bottles littering the streets come the morning of December 17.
Back to the issue at hand: when I get up on December 16, I’m guessing that the last thing on my mind will be reconciliation, as has been the case for the past 15 years. Don’t get me wrong—I realise and embrace the importance of South Africans being able to reconcile, just not on December 16! I’ve already got plans that involve, um, some of what’s been mentioned above.
Needless to say, I do think a lot about what reconciliation means to me. But I haven’t a clue where to begin to initiate something that might eventually resemble some kind of movement that observes reconciliation among the people of our rainbow nation. And frankly, I’m okay with that.
The truth of the matter is I can think of two excuses for why I’d rather be out jolling than nation building: firstly, I’ve grown accustomed to “celebrating” not having to slave away at the office on this day, and that makes me and a LOT of other people, so it’s a bit hard for me to get out of that routine. Secondly, I fear bringing the need to recognise the day’s purpose closer to home with my fellow “December 16” revellers, only to be alienated from them and never, ever being able to celebrate the holiday as nothing else but a party day. It’s not my fault that the holiday happens to fall smack bam in the middle of December.
It is, however, the fault of those in charge of choosing public holidays. But I have a very clever suggestion for them: how about we move the holiday to another time in the year! I see from my calendar that January, February, July, October and November are currently free of public holidays.
Can we just have our holiday fun in peace without the guilt of non-reconciliation hanging over our heads?