South African Government

Let's grow South Africa together

National Reconciliation Day 2018

16 December


The 16th of December is a day of great significance in South Africa because of two historical events that took place on that date.

This year Reconciliation Month will be celebrated under the theme: “The year of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu: Liberators for reconciliation”.

The month is aligned to the centenary celebrations of struggle stalwarts Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu. These two liberation heroes were at the heart of driving our national reconciliation project.

In marking Reconciliation Month we can honour our struggle icons by reaching out to each other to foster a more cohesive society. We can also advance our national reconciliation project by exhibiting the values of these two icons.

National Reconciliation Day on the 16 December came into effect in 1994 and was intended to help build a united and prosperous South Africa. The Government of National Unity identified a day which would be dedicated to this ideal.

Despite positive strides since 1994, the recent incidents of racism show that South African society remains divided. The privilege attached to race, class, space and gender has not yet been fully reversed.

Reconciliation Month is therefore of even greater importance today as we strive to build cohesive society. Social cohesion is one of the priorities outlined in the National Development Plan and Government’s Medium-term Strategic Framework 2014 - 2019.

In apartheid South Africa 16 December was known as Day of the Vow, as the Voortrekkers in preparation for the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838 against the Zulus took a Vow before God that they would build a church and that they and their descendants would observe the day as a day of thanksgiving should they be granted victory.

One way in which it aimed to do this symbolically was to acknowledge the significance of the 16 December in both the Afrikaner and liberation struggle traditions and to rename this day as the Day of Reconciliation. On 16 December 1995, the Day of Reconciliation was celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa for the first time.

The hashtags is #ReconciliationDay #IamTheFlag


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