Heritage Day is intended to acknowledge and honour the cultural richness and diversity within South Africa. It is an opportunity to pay tribute to the heritage of the many different cultures that exist within our country.
For individuals, it is an opportunity to honour the various threads woven into the tapestry of one’s identity. Ethnicity, ancestry, religion, social traditions, family customs, language, and the geographic location where a person has spent most of one’s life, have all contributed to the shaping of a personal set of cultural practices and ideologies. It is fascinating to observe which thread of the tapestry a person picks out for Heritage Day ‘dress up’ events.
Conversely, many intentionally and deliberately choose to relegate their heritage to their mental archives. September 24 is then merely Braai Day.
As professionals within the field of psychology, cultural competence (while not stereotyping and generalising) is a fundamental skill. Heritage Day creates a space to purposefully reflect on your cultural awareness, as well as your knowledge and the h of understanding of the culture of the populations that you work with.
PsySSA asked some of our members what Heritage Day meant to them as professionals in the field of Psychology in South Africa.
“Heritage Day means a day of celebrating what has been preserved and passed down to us from previous generations – the sacred knowledge of diverse existences. In the field of Psychology, our heritage is rooted in cultural diversity, social cohesion and compassion across the community. As a professional, I am reminded to look to our heritage brought down from the past to take new learnings and give this value in our present, and to preserve the values of our heritage for the future. We celebrate Heritage Day to value the kaleidoscope of people, places, cultures and ideologies, and we celebrate this connection of humanity spanning across our multiple existences. It is a day to celebrate as I have the opportunity to be a Psychological professional in a country blessed with such rich cultural diversity, embracing its growth with the spirit of ubuntu, towards inclusivity, acceptance and increased advocacy towards better mental health practices for all of South Africa and her people.”
(Genevieve Burrow, Division for Registered Counsellors and Psychometrists)
“From a research psychology/psychometry perspective, it’s an opportunity to reflect on how theories and assessments were previously used to discriminate against certain groups, and see how far we as a profession have come in developing and validating solutions that are fair and non-biased towards our population is something we should be immensely proud of. We should appreciate the work of our colleagues who have worked hard in establishing African-centred, Ubuntu-focused counseling interventions, and continue supporting those who strive to make psychological practice a service that benefits all South Africans.”
(Pakeezah Rajab, Division for Research and Methodology)