Every September, two nations on opposite sides of the globe come together to celebrate their rich cultural tapestry and historical legacies. South Africa’s Heritage Day on 24 September and Malta’s Independence Day a little earlier on 21 September, share the spotlight in this month of cultural celebration, highlighting the significance of diversity, history, and tradition.


Diverse Cultural Melting Pots

Both South Africa and Malta are known for their diverse populations, a result of centuries of migration, trade and a developing multi-cultural, cosmopolitan landscape.

South Africa’s Rainbow Nation is a reflection of its multi-ethnic society, with influences from indigenous African, European, Indian, and Asian cultures.

Similarly, Malta, at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, has been shaped by Phoenician, Roman, Arab, Norman, and British influences, creating a unique blend of cultures.

Culinary Delights

Food is an integral part of any cultural celebration, and both nations offer a gastronomic journey through their heritage. In South Africa, a traditional “braai” (barbecue) is the centrepiece of Heritage Day, bringing together people of all backgrounds to enjoy grilled meats and traditional dishes.

Independence Day in Malta is a celebration with elaborate parades, festivities and, of course, a culinary adventure across the country featuring local delicacies like rabbit, bigilla, and savoury pastries filled with ricotta or peas, known locally as pastizzi.

Music and Dance

Music and dance are universal languages that connect people across generations. South Africa has a vibrant local music scene which encompasses a wide range of styles, from traditional African rhythms to jazz and contemporary pop in all official languages.

In Malta, the “Għana,” traditional and unique Maltese folk singing, and “Festa” (religious) celebrations with colourful processions, lively dances and fireworks, offer a glimpse into the nation’s musical heritage.

Historical Sites and Landmarks

Heritage celebrations often include visits to historical sites and landmarks that preserve a nation’s history. South Africa boasts iconic heritage sites like Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its archaeological significance. Malta, with its medieval towns, ancient temples, and fortified cities, offers a living history lesson in every cobblestone.

Cultural Pride and Unity

Perhaps the most significant similarity between the two celebrations is the sense of pride and unity they foster. Heritage Day in South Africa encourages people to embrace their diverse backgrounds and recognize the shared humanity that transcends cultural differences. In Malta, Independence Day is an opportunity for the nation to come together and celebrate its unique identity, despite its small size and historical challenges.

Malta shares so much with South Africa

South Africa and Malta are both members of the Commonwealth, which opens up opportunities for trade and benefits with other member countries. Apart from the diverse cultures in both countries and the shared enjoyment of the outdoors and the culinary delights in each, both countries drive on the left hand side of the road and English is an official language in Malta and South Africa. September is a special month for both countries as they celebrate their rich cultural heritage.

The month brings people together to celebrate their heritage and for South Africans living in Malta, the day is just as special as it is in South Africa.

On 24 September, South Africans in Malta can share this special day at a celebration in Malta. Booking is essential, contact saffasmalta@gmail.com to celebrate the heritage of South Africa.

Kom laat ons braai – kuier – our own biltong and boerewors and continue the rugby world gees.

While South Africa’s Heritage Day and Malta’s Independence Day may occur thousands of miles apart, they both stand as testament to the power of culture and heritage in shaping the identity of a nation. These celebrations serve as a reminder that, no matter where we come from, our shared histories and traditions connect us in meaningful ways, fostering a sense of belonging and unity that transcends borders.


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