How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day

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We hope every South African enjoyed their long weekend and we also hope that you remember why it was a long weekend in the first place. Heritage Day is commonly known as National Braai Day and that’s perfectly fine but we decided to partner up with Culture Capital this year to highlight some of the different cultures in our incredibly diverse nation, focusing on the ‘heritage’ aspect of the public holiday.

We originally wanted to take beautiful pictures of each participant in their traditional clothing but Culture Capital took it a step further. Each participant was asked how they manage to incorporate their culture into their everyday and the results…better than we could’ve dreamed. Here are the results: 

Duduzile Mbatha

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 0553
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)

Heritage usually refers to when something; in this instance culture; that is handed down from one person’/generation to another. Heritage; I believe; forms a part of who we are. It shapes our minds, our culture, and the way in which we see ourselves. As a young black female, who is Zulu, the heritage which has been passed down is one that is based on a foundation of Respect, Pride and Ubuntu. The aesthetic of the cultural attire cultivates the pride, the manner in which we ought to treat our elders cultivates the respect, and last but not least, the way I have been taught to co-exist with my community is what makes Ubuntu, not just a flaky popular term for those who wish to ‘transform’ the nation; but an actual practiced art, a way of live. Sharing resources and labour has become a way of life. Each one reach one. Each one lend a helping hand; and we all get to go further. My culture has formed a way for those in my community to make it through the days.

My culture and heritage is mainly shaped by the knowledge passed down from my grandmother. This knowledge has influenced what I think it means to be a young Zulu lady. The irony is that the culture and language isn’t practiced daily in my home, but it’s prevalent in the moments I share with my grandmother during our Rooibos tea sessions. These tea sessions have explained several things. Things such as ‘ take heart; have courage, for there is no role as challenging as being a female of colour in this world’. ‘ Bend your back and be strong. It will come in handy in future.’  It has taught me to find beauty in my God-given image. It has taught me patience; humility and self- love. This cultural identity; despite being watered down by the Westernized way we choose to present ourselves to the world on a daily basis; is finally being given a bigger platform; and this excites me.

My identity, is shaped by several factors. My Faith in God, my cultural background; and my belief systems such as being an African Feminist are some to name a few. Being a Zulu lady does not exist in isolation from the latter, but rather gets weaved in through daily interactions, especially though conversations I have with friends and family.

Modern South Africa is moving into a space of acceptance, and pride in one’s own culture. Zulu attire is being worn casually; the language is one of the dominant and more commonly spoken discourse; and this in essence helps to shape a more concrete image of what  being Zulu means to me.

‘ The world is full of  people who push their own agendas. Be different. Be the one that provides the building blocks for others, and in turn, you will be blessed. Dare to be different mtana wam(my child) This is what the Zulu women in this family have sacrificed; less of you and more to the greater community’. – Grandmother Mbatha.

Pooja Pundit

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 0628
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)

I am a proud South African Indian.

In the large spectrum of heterogenous Indian South Africans, I identify as Hindi.
The Hindi Indian culture is bedazzled with elegant attire, dreamy colours and delicious delicacies.
I found my passion for animals and vegetarianism within my culture- the values of caring for the communtiy and having compassion for all living creatures, is  an important and profound morale embedded in the Indian culture.

The battles of breaking down sexism and colourism (being prejudiced against people based on skin colour) in the South African  and Indian community has shaped me into a rugged and stoic feminist, and activist.

My practice in Ashtanga Yoga stems from my Hindi Indian heritage- connecting with my body and exercising, even in a busy gym is another way I identify with my heritage.

Being Indian has instilled the very many profound and congenial qualities in my identity, the diverse and colourful South African historical aspect has shaped me into an active revolutionary.

Dineo Ramonnye

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 0616
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)
My father is a Motswana and my mother Motsonga. I grew up very close to my maternal grandparents of which nurtured my affiliation with the Tsonga tribe, however I lived with my parents in the Northern Cape which is a predominantly Tswana area. This translated to me never being Tsonga enough for Tsonga-speaking people, and never Tswana enough for Tswana-speaking people and at any given time weather in the Northern Cape or with my grandparents in Limpopo, I never felt like I belonged. 
Amidst the stereotypes, I have never been ashamed of my Tsonga origins. However moving to Pretoria, a predominantly setswana/ sepedi speaking community and encountering Vatsonga people speaking their language proudly and unapologetically in public sparked a new sense of pride.
I’m inspired by Sho Madjozi and her modern representation of the Shangaan woman, both through her music and her fashion. Seeing Madjozi proudly showcase her xibelani sets my spirit alight and I’m inspired to celebrate my heritage through proud representation of my culture not only in the way I dress but also in my work and in my overall everyday life.

Refiloe Mofokeng

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 0726
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)
‘Nna ke mosadi wa moSotho’,  I am a Sotho woman and my beautiful culture has contributed immensely to the woman I am today. 
Culture is the essence of humanity, it is also through culture that we know ourselves and our origins, and my culture, the Basotho culture, is one that I am profoundly proud of. 
As a Sotho woman, I have the great honour of belonging to a culture who’s famous for garments made from traditional ‘ShweShwe’ material. The ‘Shweshwe’ is unique to the Basotho culture and is known all over the world for its intricate patterns. 
My people also clothe themselves in traditional Basotho blankets, with rich unique designs and vibrant colours, blankets that symbolise milestones from marriage to childbirth. Blankets which carry a history, a nation.
My people are resilient,
My people are lively,
My people are warm,
My people, are the Basotho people.

Sibu Masters 

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 0785
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)

Coloured identity is something that I struggled with as a child and continue to struggle with as an adult, but in different ways. Having spent a chunk of my childhood in Toronto and the rest in Lyttelton, Pretoria my experience of being Coloured is slightly different. My parents are very politically conscious and that rubbed off on me. I identify coloured as another expression of blackness. The term coloured still feels like a catch all phrase for the odds and ends of our colonial past. The offspring of the oppressed and enslaved and the rasveraaier miscegenators and slave owners. There are so many ways to be coloured depending on where and how you grew up, but I think the universal coloured experiences are not found in customs and religion, even languages aren’t always shared. I’d say that food is the constant, be it Sunday meals of saffron yellowed rice with raisins, pickles beetroot, some type of roast with potatoes, or Koesisters made the way they were meant to be with spices and a delicate syrup and coconut coating or even Gatsbies stuffed with chips.

Sean Rihlamvu

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 0812
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)

I’ve struggled all my life with what does it mean to be Tsonga. Can I claim that this is my Heritage because I speak the language? Anybody can learn to speak it, so it can’t be that. Is it the clothes I wear traditionally? The problem is the same as language. Anyone can wear a set of clothes and a non-Tsonga person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Is it the culture I was raised in? Living in South Africa, where every day means interacting with more cultures than you can easily remember, makes it difficult to believe that I was only influenced by Tsonga culture and thought to become who I am today (For example, I’ve never held a real spear in my life). So what does it mean to be Tsonga, especially in South Africa? It means nothing by itself; as part of the other aspects of myself is when it begins to become real. Being Tsonga, black, male, queer, South African; all these things I see as an address for where my mind resides. I carry them with me because if I were to change them, the address of my mind would change and I would be a wholly different person. Being Tsonga, to me, means something that I did not choose. But without which I could not be me.

Bongiwe Mhlanga

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 8101 1
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)
I think what interested me about the shoot is that it seems to want to engage with the different cultures not just in isolation but also in a way that engages with the modern society climate in South africa, which is diverse in every aspect.
My demographic background is one that’s blended. I’m Swati but was born into a Zulu family. 
I was raised on the beliefs of Isinthu (Zulu custom and practices). But as we know culture is evolving and is not isolated from society as a whole. So growing up in a community mixed with different  cultures and religions shaped the way I view my own and my identity in it. 
I am Zulu,yes, but I am not soley Zulu, It is not what defines me but it is what is a part of me. I celebrate it in full, in all its beauty and customs. And if there is ever a practice that is in conflict with change I do not discard it but tranform it, transform with it. That’s the true meaning of heritage and culture, to grow and expand beyond boundaries.

Lerato Malatji 

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 0863
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)
Although my demographic is Sotho and Pedi I have learnt and have been exposed to different cultures. If you are black it is your duty to relate to other cultures as well, it is part of being black. You cannot just be one thing when there are different dimensions of it. 
Growing up I was always taught that black is beautiful and so my upbringing was a mixture of different cultures. This has a tremendous effect on how I identify and express myself today. At one point of my life I was raised by a Ndebele woman, and although I do not speak the language I engaged with it and the customs. It is a form of evolving and establishing my identity. Because as much as I am part of a certain culture I am the only me in that culture.

Sive Kalipa

Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za) heritage How Teenzone celebrated Heritage Day DSC 0915
Photo by: Shen Scott (www.shenscott.co.za)
Xhosa’s are known to be extremely bold, which transpires in my every day clothing style, as I tend to play around with bold prints , patterns and colours.
I also get inspired from leaders like Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko, their bravery transpires in the way I carry myself and the way I dress – as the way you dress speaks volumes before you even utter a word. 
Who would’ve thought that I would ‘survive’ in Johannesburg when I left eastern cape, especially in a city that’s known to ‘destroy’ but I took the bold and brave steps.
In my view I’m dressed in my cultural attire everyday, I incorporate the boldness known to my culture not forgetting who I am and where I come from.

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