Day of Reconciliation

Day of Reconciliation Quick Facts

AKA NameDay of the Vow
Hashtags#DayofReconciliation, #ReconciliationDay
2020 Date16 December 2020
2021 Date16 December 2021
Day of Reconciliation

Day of Reconciliation History

Day of Reconciliation celebrates national unity and reconciliation following the horrific events of the past. The day also serves as a promise of a shared South African future, one of equality, democracy and freedom. The day, 16 December, was chosen to mark a decisive battle in South African history. On this day in 1838, the Voortrekkers prepared for battle against the Zulus and took a vow before God that if they were granted victory, they would build a church and their descendants would have a thanksgiving day in honour of the victory. The 470 Vootrekkers then battled the 10,000 Zulus, killing more than 3,000 of them with the advantage of gun powder.

Day of Reconciliation was originally a commemoration of this battle but with the birth of democracy in 1994, 16 December became a day to celebrate national unity and to foster reconciliation.

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Day of Reconciliation Facts & Quotes

  • In 1837, a Voortrekker leader entered negotiations with the Zulu King. They signed a treaty in early 1838 but during the ceremony, the King had the Voortrekker and his entourage murdered. The battles between the two began at this moment.
  • The battle in 1838 is knows as the Battle of Blood River as so many Zulu people died.
  • The day is also known as Day of the Vow, Day of the Covenant and Dingane's Day.
  • The day also marks the formation of the Umkhonto we Sizwe, a military wing of the African National Congress, in order to wage armed struggle against the Apartheid government. The wing was formed on 16 December 1961.
  • The message of reconciliation, of nation-building of granting amnesty, indemnity, has struck a powerful, favourable chord. And people can understand that we're here not for purposes of retribution but to forget the past and to build our country. - Nelson Mandela

Day of Reconciliation Top Events and Things to Do

  • Watch a movie about reconciliation and forgiveness. Some of our favourites are Long Night's Journey into Day, Pieces of April (2003), Magnolia (1999), Invictus (2009) and Crash.
  • Study some of South Africa's history to better understand some of the nation's history that led to the creation of this holiday. Some of our favourite books on the subject are: The History of South Africa, The South African Story and Commando: A Boer Journal.
  • Generate awareness for the day on social media using hashtags #dayofreconciliation, #forgiveandforget and #unitedasone.
  • Participate in the March for the Arch in Cape Town. The event is themed for Reconciliation and requires purple attire.
  • Practice foregiveness in your. Take a moment to let go of past grudges and pick up the phone to call someone who deserves your forgiveness or someone to whom you should apologise.

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