Cape Town’s CBD, right in front of the Cullinan Hotel, a choir of Harley
Davidsons arrives with a roar and a rev.
A few hundred people gather on the
lawn and in the streets some pedestrians come to a complete halt of curiosity
as multiple South African flags flap in the wind, almost in sync with the
rhythmic strokes coming from Siyabuya, the Capetonian Miramba band.
lift my camera, zoom, and see the excitement radiating from the enthusiastic
South African faces in front of me; faces colourful, different and proudly
representing cities and towns from all over South Africa.
get a tap on the shoulder.
is this?” a gentleman asks in a French accent as he points to the flags, the
branded cars and the Harley Davidsons.
voice of the MC, Letshego Zulu, towers over the excitement as she welcomes
is a National Braai Tour,” I answer.
French tourist looks lost; it is a six letter sentence and not one word is making
absolutely sense to him.
merde. How to explain it?
group of people,” I say as I point with collective fingers to the lawn of
excitement, “will travel through South Africa for the next week with Jan Braai;
they will camp, visit heritage sites, and uhm, have a few barbeques along the
It just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
shakes his head up and down with an, “Oh okay.”
before I can explain to the gentleman that a barbeque in South Africa is all
about getting around a fire with your family or a group of friends, he
disappears into the crowd.
SEE: #Braai4Heritage: Want to go camping? Do it like Jan Braai!
serious braai-business: 2017 National Braai Tour
you want to call it braai or shisa
nyama, the act of making a fire and throwing meat on that fire is firmly
embedded into the South African culture as a whole. Just ask most South
Africans who live abroad; if you go without it for too long you will begin to
notice that something is missing, and it is not just about the meaty flavours,
but the atmosphere and togetherness between mates or family around the fire
play an even bigger role.
living in South Korea I nearly smoked everyone out of my apartment building while
trying to braai in my almost enclosed
balcony; you can take a South African away from its braai, but you can’t take a braai
away from a South African.
that in mind, I knew from the beginning of the 2017 National Braai Tour that
the weeklong trip would be serious braai business.
nothing could prepare me for just how serious the participants got down to
their braai business as they
travelled from Cape Town to the Overberg, the Karoo and the Garden Route to end
the trip in Port Elizabeth.
was next level braaing, next level
fires and next level meals; seven days, 40 teams and more than 200 fires over
the course of the tour.
that’s only counting the evening braai,
not even the fires from the prime braai
that happened en route from destination A to destination B, or the breakfast
lamb spit braai that replaced the roosterkoek one morning.
of the fun was in the braaing. The
other half was all about the teams with their unique names and team spirit who came
kitted in ready-to-have-a-good-time team gear; some had specially printed
t-shirts with the team’s logo, one team wore khaki kilts with the South African
flag printed on the pleats and another was dressed in hard hats and colourful
overalls that brought back university RAG memories. During the day they waved their flags,
explored South African heritage spots like Cape Agulhas, Robberg Nature
Reserve, the Cango Caves and Donkin Reserve or ventured off the road to go
surfing and at night they united around a massive bonfire and danced to
anything and everything from golden-Klipwerf-boereorkes-oldies to proudly South
African kwaito hits.
it might just look like seven days of braaing
from the outside it is much more in retrospect.
is seven days of letting go, seven days of enjoying one of the favourite
pastimes of South Africans, seven days of seeing curious onlookers joining in
for a Jan Braai selfie, seven days of meeting new people, seven days of
uncooked leftovers and other donations being donated to the communities in the
area, seven days of discovering and re-discovering the beauty of our country, seven
days of seeing Jan Braai having a chat here, sharing a boerewors there and seven
multi-cultural days of uniting around a fire, sharing our heritage and waving
is seven days of peeking into the future of South Africa, seven days of getting
a glimpse of Jan Braai’s goal to see 53 million people unite around a fire,
seven days screaming possibility.
friends and family all have FOMO,” said Letshego Zulu, the MC of the 2017
National Braai Tour, “to go on a road trip, explore your country and all you do
is braai, chill, chat to people and
just let go of all your daily stresses, is very refreshing.”
Do heritage and braai sit around the same fire?
the Oxford English Dictionary defines 'heritage' as 'property that is or may be
inherited', 'valued things such as historic buildings', and 'relating to things
of historic or cultural value’, the debate of whether or not South African heritage
and braai sit around the same fire is
enough, the debate is probably just as inextinguishable as South Africans’ love
for throwing a chop on a fire.
intention of the Braai Day
initiative, that Jan Scannell started 13 years ago, is not to take the focus
away from South Africa’s multicultural heritage or to change Heritage Day. And
it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu (also the patron of the initiative) who said,
“What Jan Scannell had in mind with the Braai
Day initiative is nurturing and embracing a common South African culture,
shared across all races and genders.”
also our beloved Arch Tutu who said, “Do your little bit of good where you are;
it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
is difficult to argue with a man with so much wisdom.
Zulu also weighed in said, “Braaing
is part of our heritage – it is not THE heritage – but it is part of it. It is
something South Africans do, yes sure you get Americans who will have a
barbeque but braaing is something we
do. South Africans come together around a fire, hence you got shisa nyama, it is one of the
predominant ways we as South Africans come together. Nothing beats that quality
time with your friends at your home when you do a bring-and-braai. With Braai Day
being celebrated on heritage day we’re reminding people a little bit of our
culture, it’s not this culture or that culture, it is that one thing that
actually unites us as South Africans.”
race, language, region and religion, we all share one common heritage. It is
called many things: Chisa Nyama, Braai and Ukosa to name few. Although the
ingredients may differ, the one thing that never changes is that when we have
something to celebrate we light fires, and prepare great feasts.
crux of the matter is that you can celebrate your heritage and you can still
light a fire. It’s not either or.
will you do this Heritage Day?
more info on how Braai Day started or
some recipes for the fire, visit www.braai.com.
Want to join National Braai Tour
you want to join Jan Braai on his National Braai Tour next year just keep the
following in mind:
- There are hundreds of entries and only 40 teams are selected.
Start practicing your coolness to get a spot (teams consists of four people).
- You will smell like a well done chop after gathering around
fires for a week. If you have pets, is best to remove your braai clothing upon return before you enter your house. No one will
be held liable if they lick the clothes off your back.
- There is no medic on the tour so if you’re prone to
accidents, pack a band-aid (you might want to add a headache tablet(s) as
- It is best to get enough sleep pre and post Braai Tour.
- Vegetarians are welcome but should just consider that
probably 19 of the 21 meals will be meat-related hence no one can be held
liable if you starve.
- It is not a competition, if you burn your meal no one will
judge you but your team mates who will starve (consider befriending the
vegetarian, he/she might have a stash of tofu).
- If you leave your wife behind make sure you call Liefie every
now and then (she might be jealous that you’re making food for 7 nights and she
is not benefitting from it).
- If loud noises disturb your sleep, bring ear plugs because
your buddies’ snores will pass through the tent flaps.
- What happens on Braai Tour, stays on Braai Tour.