Yesterday, (September 24th) was Heritage Day – and the minstrels and monarchs showed up in spectacular celebratory form in the Bo-Kaap. Prince Harry and Megan were clearly taken by the cultural colourfulness of the spectators on this festive occasion and the delightful smiles of toddlers, teenagers, tannies and tourists connected with the media and entertained the masses.
Living on the corner of Buitengracht and Bo-Kaap, I am so privileged to be part of this Bo-Kaap culture every weekend – Sunday nights, the Pantone book of colours turn out in frocks and feathers, the bands bid families a jovial welcome and the dancing at dawn to late in the night makes for a happy end to my weekend week after week. How comforting to feel that sense of community.
This Public Holiday, better known as 'Braai Day' is a time to take a break and get to celebrate our gloriously diverse culture as South Africans. This is the day that reminds us of our colourful heritage seamed together by our love for our land and all that it brings to life.
Heritage Day has become the most iconic South African holiday, one synonymous with braai-vleis and flavour; one that promotes unity is free of prejudices and discriminates against no one. And on this day, we all cheer for Shisa Nyama, Zamalek and Shweshwe, the Blue Bulls and Bakkies, No Name Blitz and Lion Matches, Klippies and Umqombothi, die Bokke and the Amakroks, and just genuinely being lekka.
This is what culture looks like. Culture is about people and their stories - "life-linguistics", the way human beings make sense of life. It is these human stories that build culture - it's innate. Tribes and nations have told stories to create community since the beginning of time; it's just who we are.
Culture is deeply emotional; rooted in shared values and experiences, and cemented in meaning as a result of a real sense of belonging. Within a matrix of different beliefs, culture is given its authenticity and its relentless power to strengthen relationships and intensify trust. With all of this, it is merely impossible to be a passive spectator when it comes to culture.
How does this not remind you of branding? How can one brand without participating in or initiating culture? Culture, as with branding, is about connecting with people on a more fundamental level and seeking to understand what motivates and inspires them.
That is what successful brands do. The brands that stick around remain relevant and make an impact on culture are the ones that participate in it.
So brands of South Africa, I urge you - stand up, step out and be counted this Heritage Month!
Need some local inspiration? Watch Jain's 'Makeba' music video below - we're sure it will get your creativity going!