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Posted by on Sep 24, 2010 in Featured, Photography, South Africa | 4 comments

Friday Photo 31: Our Heritage?

Heritage Day, 24 September, is a South African public holiday on which South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their cultural heritage and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.

And because we’re such a multi-cultural bunch down here on the Southern tip of Africa, every year there’s some muttering around how people choose to mark the day. The biggest problem with South Africans “across the spectrum” is that we really can’t seem to agree on what our true national and shared cultural heritage is and so we tend to focus on celebrating the “diversity of beliefs and traditions”.

Which is all good and well, but does tend to drive a polarising wedge between various groups at times. We’ve had AZAYO (Yes, I also went “who?” – the Azanian Youth Organisation if it helps. Didn’t help me knowing that) suggesting that “Braai Day must be scrapped because it serves ‘narrow white commercial interests’.” Voted over on his News24 Blog asks questions of how he fits into Heritage Day, and to be honest, he does pose an interesting question in trying to interpret exactly how he and his family fit into the South African enigma that is Heritage Day.

If we’re honest as a nation, as a people, as a species, we might find that we all have a common ancestor from whom all of our present diversity evolved. This might well be her.

Our Heritage (c) Greg Pillhofer, 2009-2010

In the Cradle of Humankind, where this picture was taken, about 1,000 hominid fossils have been discovered, spanning several million years. This strapping bipedal female is part of a diorama exhibition housed in the Maropeng Visitor Centre. I had made a note of her name and background, but can’t find the note. (If anyone can fill me in please do.)

About 7-million years ago, early hominids began to adapt to a climate that was cooling globally. Our ancestors who ventured out into the savannah were rewarded with roots, shrubs and occasional animal carcasses, ensuring that those who walked on two legs were more likely to survive. Bipedalism allowed hominids to free their arms, enabling them to make and use tools well, stretch for fruit in trees and use their hands to communicate.

And allowed our early mother to adopt that “if you kids don’t stop that nonsense you’ll not be getting any dessert tonight!” hands on the hips pose. Now tell me again that we don’t all have the same heritage.

“Our Heritage” (c) Greg Pillhofer, 2010
Original Capture: 10/07/2009, 14:48 – Maropeng, South Africa
Canon EOS 350D | f/4 | 1/60 sec | ISO-400 | 28mm | Flash


  1. You are right about the hands on the hips pose – I can remember my mum using it to good effect as well. Universal heritage indeed.

    In fact, now that I think about it your pic does actually look a little like my dear old mum!

    • Umm, I hope she doesn't look too much like your mother A-R. If she did that'd be pornography and we'd get into trouble with the net nannies. And you're mom would be a couple of hundred 1000 years old.

      • And she'd be a very "natural" woman.

  2. i see where you are taking this debate………


  1. The BlaBla Blog - [...] this post was partly inspired by the comment left by Aussie-Rocks on my Our Heritage photo post last week]…

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