South Africa is a remarkably diverse country rich in culture and an extremely complicated history. On Heritage Day, which is on 24th September, South Africans come together to celebrate the rainbow nation as called by Nelson Mandela. On this day people put their differences aside and embrace their differences showing unity in their diversity. One of the most special things about the South African people is the national anthem Nkosi sikelele whose first line translates to God bless Africa which lies perfectly with the notion of ubuntu – I am because you are. This is a prime example of what we try to encapsulate at our school. Cape Studies welcomes people from all over the world who want to learn English regardless of their background. We offer a safe space with intimate classes to make learning English in South Africa a breeze and as many of our students say, we provide a home away from home. We at Cape Studies celebrate our differences and use every opportunity to learn from each other, which results in our school being one big rainbow family, making us unique.
In remembrance of the gift of ubuntu given to us by our forebears we decided to not only celebrate our heritage as South Africans but to celebrate the heritage of all our students’ heritage throughout what we call Heritage month. Included in our celebrations was a braai day which was hosted on one of our early sunny Cape Town spring days. A braai is what some might call a barbeque or a grill and has become a huge part of South African culture, especially in the month of September. As many South Africans would know, when in doubt have a braai. On this day we asked our students to show us how they would “braai” in their own countries and share a taste of their culture with us in a truly South African style.
We also launched Heritage Fridays where we asked our students to volunteer to share their cultural clothing with us in reference to a South African tradition where people wear their traditional attire during heritage month, especially on Heritage Day and we also shared some of our cultural attire with them. One might ask oneself; how celebrating South African Heritage Day might aid in learning English. Simply put, English has become a global language and learning English is not only about learning grammar, sentence structures and tenses. Learning English is about learning how to communicate with a wide variety of people in a respectful way and being able to practice cultural relativity. English, regardless of its past, can be used as a tool to break through social barriers and allow people to gain access to new opportunities throughout the globe. We have been fortunate enough to see many of our students who have come from all over the globe form everlasting connections and moving to different countries together or even offering each other jobs with the only thing connecting them being the English language and their shared time at Cape Studies – where everlasting memories are made.
Let our differences continue to unite us, happy Heritage Month!
Check out this link of our students and staff doing the famous Jerusalema dance in commemoration of Heritage Month.