The dictionary meanings of the word “Heritage” are 1.property that is or may be inherited; an inheritance and 2. a special or individual possession; an allotted portion.
Don’t worry if you just learnt the meanings right now. I also had to punch the word in the google search bar just to be sure if what I think it means is correct. I must say, though, coming across the meaning, the former, that is – struck me. I was struck by how I nonchalantly thought “Oh but that’s the way of the Africans” as I read it. Because, essentially, as Africans, that is who we are – inheritors. Is that even a word? Well, if it isn’t… I say we inherit it today!
The pride of Africans and Africanness lies in the beauty of being able to make anything magical and beautiful. I, for one, was born on September 24th. Yes, heritage day, and because of this, there seems to be an aura around how I lead my daily life. Whenever I mention my date of birth, it somehow gives people an understanding of why I am who I am. Significant, isn’t it?
I am going to take you through the heritage possessed by Africans in Africa and all over the world. It is an immaculate spirit that can never be explained in one article so I hope this will mean we are going to have more of these moments. I would like us to have conversations about how African women have taught us to behave, speak and carry ourselves, preparing us to be strong because it’s as if they knew the battle was bigger than us. I’d like us to also talk about the celebratory traditions we have over the biggest achievements as one of our own getting a chance to graduate or how all twenty girls were tested virgins kuMemulo.
African heritage has seen Africans take the worst kind of situations and turn them around into the most beautiful and emotional moments of our time. We are the people who took the “N” word, adopted it and adapted to it so well that even the person who had initially given it to us cannot use it against us or as a way to dehumanise us.
It was in recent years when pop icon Nicki Minaj broke into the industry and did what the likes of Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu have been doing…embracing the “B” word. The adoption of derogatory terms being turned around into something we own and embrace (in my opinion) is a fashion birthed by Africans.
The fact that we can take words and reverse the negativity says a lot about the African heritage as a collective. We are optimists, we are creatives, and we are unique. The way we dress, dance, sing, cry and can be bold in our struggles and joys shows the rare beauty that resides in our differences.
The African meaning of the word Heritage is therefore; “African”
Peace. Love. Art.
By Kate-Lynn Motloung