Did you know October 10 is a public holiday? But only in Orania
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Johannesburg - Ring, ring, ring, the phone rang from Independent Media’s Johannesburg office to the Volkskool Orania on Thursday morning.
There was no answer, which I found strange as the call was being made during school hours on a Thursday morning. A regular school day, so I thought.
So I waited 10 minutes and tried again. Same result.
"Maybe they are in a meeting, let us give them another 30 minutes," I thought to myself. But again, no answer.
"What on earth?" I thought to myself as I began to get irritated.
But after enduring a degree of frustration for a few odd hours, I decided to revisit the school website and look for alternative contact persons on the website.
I try the school principal Anje Boshoff on her cellphone, listed publicly on the website, again - no answer.
Persistent, I keep scrolling on the website and I bump into a remedial teacher’s cellphone number, Milandi Malan was her name.
I dialled her. Bingo!
She answered and I explained my reason for my call and my frustration at my calls not being answered from the school telephone line. I had been calling the school to enquire about a teacher allegedly raping a school pupil last month.
When I did finally give Malan a chance to speak she sighed - not because she was running away from the alleged rape issue, but to explain to me the following.
“It’s a public holiday in Orania today, that is why there is no answer on the school telephone, I am out in Kimberley having lunch,” she said briefly.
I was bemused by this, and a bit stunned actually. An entire public holiday, it must be nice.
Orania is a secluded whites-only town in the Northern Cape, people like me do not live there. It is an exclusive whites only town reserved only for white people, created in 1996 to "preserve Afrikaner culture".
Earlier this year eNCA reported that "people of colour" would be allowed to live in the town, but they had to assimilate to Afrikaner culture.
When asked by the TV channel if "people of colour" would be welcome, Orania Movement chief executive Pieter Krige said: "If they are willing to assimilate and become Afrikaners and show the willingness to be that, the answer would be yes".
Moments after saying my goodbyes to Malan, who was mostly pleasant and even offered to pass on Boshoff’s number to me (which I already had), I was still sat at my desk thinking "haibo".
I turned to Google to confirm if Malan wasn’t playing me and I queried this alleged public holiday and it turned out to be true, October 10 is a public holiday in Orania, it is Heroes Day or Kruger’s Day.
I learn that it is a day to celebrate Paul Kruger - who is described as the embodiment of Afrikanerdom, who was born on this day in 1825. Kruger Day, or Heroes Day as it is now known, was celebrated by both the colonial government between 1882 to 1899 as a public holiday, and again by the apartheid government from 1952 to 1994.
The democratic government post-1994 scrapped the holiday, but in Orania, the secluded whites only town found in the Northern Cape province, it remains in place till this day.
“The day was used to underline the values and principles of the Afrikaner people,” says Wikipedia, quoting a 2006 Beeld article.
Lisa Strydom, writing in the Beeld in a 2013 article, listed the following as official Orania public holidays: Majuba Day, Foundation Day, Bitternard Day, Language Day, Heroes Day and Vow Day.
Malan referred me to the "Office of the Town" for more information about the town and it’s other unique public holidays, but being a holiday, the office was closed today.
He banna, I am still a bit stunned.
And on Twitter, there were some who commemorated the day.
🚜⛈ For those complaining that the rains are late in Gauteng... Farmers back in the day used Paul Kruger’s birthday, which is 10 October, as a benchmark for when Eastern South Africa typically gets its first proper rains!
— MacIrishZa❌🇮🇪🇿🇦☘️ (@irish_za) October 10, 2019 Happy Kruger Day! Remember not to wear socks today in memory of Oom Paul! 🤣🤣🤣
— The Honey Badger (@BrianAdams52) October 10, 2019 Paul Kruger day parade
— Tshepo Sefotlhelo (@TshepoSefo) October 10, 2019 Before 1994, today (10 October) was regarded as a public holiday.
It was regarded as "Kruger Day" ✊🏽💰
— Cool Kruger (@Seramoodie16) October 10, 2019