The College of Health Sciences invited all its staff to social events to mark the start of spring and Heritage month.
The events, which form part of the College’s “Grow Our People” strategy, were aimed at allowing staff to discover, connect and learn about each other’s heritage.
There were interesting conversations and some “old wives tales”, signifying the diverse range of cultures and traditions existing in our rainbow nation.
Initiator of the celebrations Director of Professional Services Professor Fanie Botha, said: ‘While we all aspire to live out Ubuntu, Heritage Month is an opportunity for us to be reminded about shared humanity. Let’s use this time to not only celebrate how far we’ve come as a nation but also to acknowledge how far we still need to go.’
Some staff felt moved to share traditional dance movements over a sumptuous meal of boerewors rolls, while others dressed up in traditional outfits which many staff said included the South African-Durban cultural dress of shorts and T-shirts.
Many staff opted to wear saris, a traditional Indian attire. The gathering heard that the sari is around 5 000 years old and its origins can be traced back as far as 100BC. The colour of a sari has deep traditional and religious significance. A white sari is worn by a Hindu widow and represents a state of mourning, while red is worn during marriages and is also associated with fertility, and yellow saris are worn for engaging in ascetic practices as well as during the period following childbirth.
In the Zulu culture, it was interesting to learn that only women are permitted to brew Zulu beer which is made from sorghum. When the beer is ready, the woman who brewed the beer pours some on the ground next to the ukhamba (clay pot) as an offering – kwabaphansi – to the ancestors and spirits. The beer is then stirred and a woman who is the hostess tastes the brew first in front of all the guests to prove that it is safe to drink.
‘It is very clear that South Africa is a rich, diverse society and in order to build harmonious working environments, we must continue to create platforms like these for our staff to not only celebrate our rich diversity but also learn about the different traditions,’ said Botha.
Words: Maryann Francis