Happy Heritage Day, South Africa!

Heritage is defined as something we inherit or rather, something that’s passed down from generation to generation. For some people, Heritage Day means a time to respect their traditions, while for others it’s a time to gather with family and friends, have a braai and just catch up. And for some, of course, it’s just another day off.  

But today, as we celebrate our diverse beliefs, cultures and traditions in South Africa, I can’t help but wonder what legacy we’re leaving behind for our children and grandchildren’s heritage in days to come.

Because the environment and all the natural resources in our land are part of our heritage too, and they’re crying out to be preserved like we preserve our cultural traditions. To me, this is as important a responsibility as taking good care of your children.

After all, how can our youth be the leaders of tomorrow if there is no future to lead – how can there be a future unless we conserve that which we now have? When you combine the proposed fracking in the Karoo with possible nuclear plants and the thousands of tons of coal being used every day, extensive deforestation and exhausted ocean resources, it seems like we’ve completely forgotten to protect our environmental heritage.

I often hear people making comments like “the earth is just so big, will my efforts make any difference?” Believe me, any slight effort you and I put towards protecting the environment won’t go to waste.

You can start by simple but meaningful actions like recycling, switching off all appliances you are not using, walking instead of driving, and telling your government to start using renewable energy properly.

So on this heritage day, as we gather to celebrate our heroes and heroines of South Africa’s past, amidst the braais and the picnics, let’s also think about the environment we inherited and the one we’ll be leaving to future generations – will it be one worth celebrating?