Heritage: 'A paradox of beauty and burden'

What does Heritage Day meant to you? For many South Africans it provides an opportunity to celebrate a diverse range of beliefs and traditions. Some will enjoy Tuesday as national "braai" day, which in turn will irk others.

Hundreds of South Africans gathered at the Cradle of Humankind on Tuesday to celebrate Heritage Day. Picture: EWN

But in the context of our country's history, can this heritage also be seen as cumbersome baggage?

On Weekend Breakfast, Refiloe Mpakanyane chats to clinical psychologist Khosi Jiyane about the human need to connect with the past.

Jiyane says we are creatures of interpretation and continuity, and heritage presents a paradox - holding both beauty and burden.

We are bound to meaning, we are constantly seeking to understand what we're about.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

She refers to the effort "architect of apartheid" Hendrik Verwoerd put into constructing a specific ideology which citizens then lived by.

Jiyane believes in a process of reflection to ensure that we don't repeat history, but break imprisoning barriers and move beyond them.

Nothing is enscripted, nothing is engraved. So it is possible for us to not only live what our forebears have lived, but to ask yourself, why does this make sense or why did it make sense then? Does it still make sense today to believe and act on the same basis?

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Ask, what does my current reality make of me to be able to move forward?

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Jiyane says this is why she likes to make a distinction between heritage and legacy.

She sees heritage as what we are bequeathed and legacy as what we do with that heritage we received.

It's important for us that we not only recognise our heritage but it's to ask ourselves what is the legacy that I want to create.

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Listen to the insightful conversation below:


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